Introducing Our New Pet, Holly the Hedgehog!

Introducing Our New Pet, Holly the Hedgehog!

Happy Tuesday friends!

The GGR family officially has a new mascot; our new Pinto hedgehog Holly. She is 3 months old, and is way more fun than I would have imagined a tiny little bush-bacon could be. I decided to get her as a kind of pick me up after Harvey and so far that has been a complete success, both for myself and for Amy. I am used to having very labor/attention intensive pets, whether it is the dogs or the various aquariums I have had over the last 5 years. My only frame of reference for a hedgehog was the blue and incredibly fast kind created by Sega, and a girl I dated in high school who had one, but she let it wander around her house all the time so we could rarely find it. So we set off on this new pet adventure shortly after Thanksgiving not really knowing what to expect.

We should have expected a lot of cuteness

        We found a breeder in north Houston and did our research. Did you know that hedgehogs are actual pigs? Tiny little pricklepigs. I always thought they were rodents. We bought her a 2 story habitat, with the top part housing her bed, food and water, and the bottom part full of wood shavings that she can crawl around in.

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It’s an easy way to keep her from getting shavings or droppings in her food and water while still being able to have the ability to burrow and scrounge around like she would in the wild. So far I would say she spends about 60% of her time down in the bottom either running on her wheel (she freaking loves that thing) or looking for the dried meal worms we hide down there for her to find.

Example, she loves finding those worms. They are like hedgehog crack.

        We also have a heater down there for her, which she likes to sleep next to when it is cold, however as it warms up she is spending more and more time up in her dino bed. Speaking of, I’m sure you already know by now but I love dinosaurs, and the fact that I found a small mammal bed designed to look like a dinosaur (or an alligator if you wanna go that way, but don’t, because why would you do that?)

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If they made one big enough this would be my new bed

        The one thing I wasn’t prepared for though, after all of our research and reading, was how much personality and expression Holly would have. I have grown up my whole life with dogs, so the idea of an expressive pet is something you would think I would be used to. The tail wagging, the barking, the yipping, even how they walk means you can tell at any given moment how your dog is feeling. With a hedgehog, I assumed all of that would be out the window and I would have to just do my best to figure out what she was feeling in a given time. Looking back now this is almost laughable. There is the obvious, if she is really pissed off she will ball up and point her spines at you (another fun fact I learned YESTERDAY is that hedgehogs have spines, not quills). So that is a pretty blatant fuck off. When she is happy, she will have her spines down and will be visibly relaxed, and that is where the cuteness factor is cranked up to 11. But there are so many variations in between. She will hiss when she is annoyed. She will pull down her face spines and give you the most pissed off grumpy face imaginable. When she is completely content, especially if you are feeding her, she will almost visibly smile. She can be playful and she can be mischievous.

Overall, we got her as a fun little project to help pick us up after the hurricane, but she has quickly endeared herself to everyone in our family. Pretty much the first thing that people ask when they come over these days are “can we see Holly?” She is quickly becoming the most popular member of our family, which is saying something considering how popular Amy is. No jealousy yet though. Side note- guys and gals, if you are single and looking for a way to meet people, get a hedgehog. I have never picked up more interest online or in person that when people see a cute hedgehog face poking out of your pocket, and this is coming from someone who was going through my early 20’s with a golden retriever puppy. My Instagram followers basically doubled the first time I tagged her in a post. I also realize how millennial and attention whorish that sentence just sounded and kind of hate myself right now but facts are facts. Holly’s got that star power.

That’s all I have for today, I’m sure there will be plenty of pictures of her popping up around here as time goes on. We also have our Instagram and Twitter scrollers as sidebars on here. Thanks for reading, next up we are going to have our first bullet journal progress update. I’ve gotten a ton of good feedback on that post and am looking forward to showing how that is impacting our lives. Have a great west of the week my geeks!

-CDL

Uh, The Head Just Fell Off… (My First Metal Earth Dino Experience)

Uh, The Head Just Fell Off… (My First Metal Earth Dino Experience)

Hello again friends,

Sorry it has been a bit longer than I had intended since the last update, I have been hit by the flu that is kicking butt around the country and have been laid up since Sunday trying to get over it. Good news though, it looks like I am on the mend and will be back to work/normal functionality tomorrow. Other good news, before I was consumed by the plague, I was able to completely finish the first of my 4 new Metal Earth dinosaur models: the Stegosaurus. If you remember this is the one I mentioned was driving me crazy when I did the bullet journal post (I have an update on that coming in the near future as well).

Before I go any further, please if you are reading this and you are one of those people who makes models all the time and have totally made better ones because the Metal Earth ones are so easy and bla bla bla, cool. I hear you. I do not have a ton of experience building these and there was definitely a learning curve involved and if hearing about my struggles is going to annoy you then please just skip this one. BUT if you feel like sharing some of your own experiences or any helpful advice in the comments please feel free, or if you have any pictures of your newest endeavor please drop them in the comments, I would appreciate seeing what some of the more skilled geeks are doing out there. Especially if you have made any of the Star Wars sets, because those look absolutely sick.

Now I guess it’s time to get back to my experience. When I talked about it last, I mentioned how much trouble I was having putting the model together because I could not get some of the tabs to big properly, regardless of what tool I tried to use. I actually went so far as to buy a $40 set of model building tools (Amy was not thrilled, but really I needed better model tools for my Warhammer figurines anyways so I’m going to go ahead and say they were not bought just for the dinos). Well, spoiler alert, I was having trouble with the small interior tabs because I had (stupidly) skimmed over a critical part of the directions and did not realize that those specific tabs I was struggling with were meant to be twisted instead of bent. This was something that took Amy all of 3 minutes to discover when she heard about my struggle and will now be my great shame for the rest of my model building career. Once I got that sorted, things kind of moved in fits and spurts. Some times things would be very intuitive and we would be making steady progress, only to hit some snag or find one piece that would just not work like it was supposed to in the instructions. But before I get into that I guess I should start at the beginning.

20180109_190311This is my Metal Earth laser cut 3d modelling kit

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These are the very tiny and breakable pieces of said modeling kit. Emphasis on breakable.

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This is a sample of the instructions that come to help you build your Stegosaurus. These are the fine line between your model looking like a sexy, sleek, shiny, metal dino or a mutated primordial monster. Read them. Love them.

        Look at all of those shiny, straight, thin, delicate pieces just waiting do be made into something beautiful. Fun fact, although you can use scissors to remove them from the frame, the instructions recommend that you carefully bend them back and forth until the little holder pieces snap so you don’t get weird hanging edges that look ugly. Also fun fact, they aren’t kidding when they say carefully, and if you don’t bend in exactly the right place it will be the actual body part that snaps, not the holder piece. It took Amy and I about 3 pieces to realize this error. But hey that’s what superglue is for right? It took about 45 minutes to get all of the pieces out of the frame and ready to be put together into our masterpiece. The pieces range in size from “wow that’s small” to “holy hell how am I supposed to pick this up it’s too small”. They are also surprisingly detailed and fun to look at.

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Example of “wow that’s small” pieces next to their friends “holy hell how am I supposed to pick that up it’s too small”. Tweezers in the background for size reference.

        Once you get the pieces out (provided that you read the instructions properly) putting them together isn’t that hard in the early stages. As long as you have places to grip with your tweezers, and a decent amount of patience it all comes together pretty well. The instructions are clear, and as the parts start coming together they look really cool.

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Cool

        There was one small problem with the instructions though, and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture for reference. But if you look at the photo above, you can see those neck bones that are bent away from the head about 30 degrees back towards the ribs. That is how the model looks in the pictures on the cover. That is how real stegosaurus neck bones are shaped according to all of the pictures I found online. The instructions however, say to bend the neck bones 30 degrees forwards towards the head. Now I would normally say to defer to the instructions, but… the picture on the front of the box, and all of the pictures on the website clearly show them bent the other direction. So this hung Amy and I up for awhile as we went back and forth on which one we thought was right, in the end we went for the bones bent back towards the ribs because it looked better. If I made the wrong call here then I’m sorry model, for turning you into a derposaurus. But I blame bad info. That was the only issue with the instructions though, other than that they were quite clear and easy to use as a guide. This got us through the next 2 hours or so, up until we were nearing about 80% completion on the entire thing. The pieces were easy to bend, fairly easy to work with, and we started to feel some real confidence building. Unfortunately, shortly after this point, right when things started looking really good, we started hitting some real snags.

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This shiny calm before the storm…

        If you look at that last picture, you may notice that as more pieces start getting added the places that you can grip and grab a section start to shrink. This becomes a real issue when it comes time to do things like put two big sections together. Not only that, but once you can actually get them to fit together properly, in order to bend the little tabs you have to put some torque on the frame itself which was then leading to bending in other places that bending should not have been occurring. I am sure this is just where experience with this type of model comes into play, but because this was our first one we were having absolute fits for the last 45 minutes of build time. These issues also meant that the further out a piece was from the center, the less secure it was overall. We would be working on one leg, trying to maneuver it into place and delicately grab a tab, only for the one we had just secured to fall off, which would then lead to some of the most beautiful and creative cursing I have heard come out of Amy’s mouth in quite some time. It all came to a head in the final dramatic moment, when we had finally completed the model and sat back to bask in our awesomesness, only to have the head fall off and clatter to the floor. We put it back on only to have a piece of leg fall off. Call us cheaters but it eventually because so frustrating that we just said “screw it gimme the superglue” and now our Stegosaurus is SECURE. Seriously I am pretty sure he could take a bomb impact at this point. So the job got done but I kind of got that feeling like when you would beat a  a difficult game but had to use a cheat code to get the job done.

Overall, I would say that the finished product was definitely worth the pain it was to build. I love dinosaurs, and I love having a metal model of one on my desk at work. It was a fun new experience, and I am certainly going to build the other 3 in the coming weeks. I think now that I have learned from some mistakes on this one the others should come together easier right? I would certainly recommend these to anyone who is a dinosaur or model enthusiast, although I would make sure that you have some very good tools for picking up and maneuvering small things. Also patience is critical. Maybe have some whiskey on hand. That’s something I am DEFINITELY going to have at the ready for the next one (which is saying something because I am pretty sure I am building that one at work), a few pieces every day. I’ll be sure to post the pictures of the others as they come together, and again if anyone reading this has experience in these or any other cool models that you want to show off please feel free to do so in the comments. Monday I will have another post up about the new hedgehog and towards the end of next week I will update progress on the bullet journal. Have a good weekend all!

The finished product. Be amazed… or at least mildly amused.

-CDL

 

The Year of the Bullet Journal

The Year of the Bullet Journal

Well here we are! Week 2 of 2018 and already a new project has fallen on my lap. This one is coming courtesy of Amy, who spent a good part of the end of the year going a little stir crazy looking for some type of new craft to do. After a few dozen hours on Pinterest she started talking to me about this thing they call a Bullet Journal. To be honest, at the beginning I was mostly just humoring her and looking at all of the pictures of these beautifully laid out and artfully designed pages in these journals and thinking I don’t have the time or the energy to put into something like that, but I was glad she found something new and artsy to sink her teeth into.

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        That’s usually how these things go, at which point she will spend the next week or so making some badass, beautiful thing while I kind of sit back and watch and at the end just get completely blown away by her talent level. It’s something we’ve done on repeat dozens of times at this point, but this time it was different. She kept asking me about it, and trying to get me to look at videos and pictures and kept trying to get me excited about making one for myself. As someone who has kept journals before and who always encourages others to write, I could see why SHE was excited about the prospect of starting one, but I wasn’t understanding why she was pushing me so hard to do so as well. Finally, after some serious side eye and various grumblings, she convinced me to watch a youtube video about it to show me what made the bullet journal so different from a normal personal journal. Fast forward about 10 minutes later and I was sold.

 

I have mentioned before about how I have a few goals for 2018, and the bullet journal has jumped to the top of the list. I see it not only as a goal in itself, but also as a gateway through which all of the other goals will flow. It is something that I have gotten pretty excited about over the last few days, especially since I see it being such an easy way to keep track of other benchmarks such as workout days, writing days, etc. as well as a way to cater to my obsessive need to keep a schedule. Granted, one of the reasons I warmed up to it so quickly was the fact that I could design one that was more functional than beautiful, so mine is not going to look anything like Amy’s. But that’s part of the Bullet Journal’s biggest draw: it is a reflection of the author and what their priorities are. Case in point, here is how we are both designing our Future Log sections.

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Mine

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Hers

        I have never seen a better visual representation of our relationship in my life. Seriously, can you tell which one of us is the talented one and which one of us won the relationship lottery? Anyways, obviously our journals are going to end up looking vastly different as the months go by, and even more so if we continue doing these down the road in the future. But even if that’s the case I think that they will help both of us in the exact ways we want them to. I’m especially looking forward to the habit tracker I put in mine last night.

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I know I look like a slacker now, but hopefully I’m gonna fill this bitch up with colors

        My plan going forward is to keep everyone up to date with how the bullet journal is coming along, and if it is having the impact on my day to day life that I hope it will. I will probably judge based on if it is helping me achieve my other goals that I am tracking, how much I actually use it day to day, and if it becomes tedious to try to maintain on a consistent basis. As of right now I am going on day 2 and have opened it a surprising number of times to add things for the upcoming month. I’ll probably wait for another week or so before giving another update to give the just-started-a-journal- enthusiasm to wear off and see where we are at. In the meantime I have another little mini project I have started this week: a laser-cut sheet metal dinosaur skeleton replica that has so far kicked my ass every time I have tried to mess with it. So look forward to hearing more on that saga in the coming days (I’m currently convinced it would be easier to find and build an actual dinosaur skeleton than get this bastard put together correctly). In the meantime I hope everyone else is having a good start to 2018, if you have ever looked into a Bullet Journal or any other journal like it please let me know any tips or advice you would have for a first timer in the comments. I would love to get some feedback!

-CDL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 2018 From GeekGoneRogue!

Happy 2018 From GeekGoneRogue!

Hello again friends!

It’s been awhile since I have posted anything new. Truth be told as much as I want to I am not even sure that I have much to say right now. 2017 has been a bitch to people the world over, and I have certainly been no exception. For those that don’t know my wife and I live in Houston and unfortunately were victims in the Harvey floods. Our house flooded and we have relocated with relatives for the time being. Slightly before that, GeekGoneRogue.com was a victim of a hack and much of the material that we had put together in 2017 was lost. Such to say, between these two things I have not had much of a desire to write anything new lately, and if I am being completely honest I was slacking a bit prior to these events anyways. But, they sound like pretty good excuses so we are gonna ride with that.

So here’s to a better 2018! It can only go up from here right? I know today is technically the 2nd, but I give myself at least a week to really hone in my plans and resolutions for the upcoming year. This year I want to write more. I say that every year, and every year I do a little better but I have not been able to see it through to the end. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time. That’s not to say I will post every day, or even that I won’t have a lapse or two here or there, but I don’t think I am going to stop. I have made quite a few changes personally in the last 4 months and so far they have all stuck. So that’s it going forward. Keep up with the blog, and finish the book. Losing more weight would probably be resolution number 3. Since August I have been able to drop 35 lbs, and I have hopes for another 35 in the upcoming year. This is the one resolution that I think is going to be the easiest of the three, mostly because I have been able to really start to enjoy running and working out. They have become an important part of my daily routine and because of that it no longer actually feels so much like work to exercise. I never would have believed it 6 months ago. As a matter of fact, I used to fucking hate when people I knew that had worked out their whole lives used to tell me how easy or enjoyable exercising was. Surprise, surprise: they were at least partially right. I can still name about a dozen things that are technically more fun to do on a daily basis, but when combined with how good it feels to lose weight, and how well I sleep at night, I’ve officially been won over to team exercise. Time to get the t-shirt (Large this time instead of XL).

That’s all I have for you tonight. Starting tomorrow I will be back in full geek form, talking about a couple of games that really stuck out to me last year, as well as how happily surprised I was to pick up Doom this weekend as part of the winter steam sale. I played through the campaign in what felt like 12 hours straight and had a blast doing it. We will also look forward at some of the games and movies coming out this year that I can’t wait to play, and all the other normal GGR stuff. In the meantime, I hope everyone else is having a smooth start to the new year. I appreciate the readers who keep up with this blog, I promise it will be better this year!

-CDL

My Headfirst Dive into the Latest Hipster Trend

My Headfirst Dive into the Latest Hipster Trend

Hipsters have a history of doing some pretty nutty stuff, like opening restaurants that only serve milk and cereal (google it). But when I told my girlfriend their latest trend was buying cassette tapes, she straight up told me: “I don’t believe you”. I don’t blame her either. No one seems to remember cassettes fondly. A clerk at Waterloo Records told me it was the new trend among hipsters and teenagers to save money. I didn’t think about it at the time. If you told me hipsters were skipping around all day as a fast way to get high, I’d probably believe it. Maybe I shouldn’t just write someone off as crazy. After all, I’ve made the non-obvious choice before: I drive a manual instead of an automatic, I drink craft beer instead of bud-whatever, I listen to Fall Out Boy instead of moving on from high school. Each time I did it for a reason. Maybe the hipsters had a point? There was only one way to find out. I busted out the last audio cassette I bought.

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Fun fact: this album peaked at no. 2 in France.

Ugh, it’s not even the good one. At least it has NSync and Baby Spice. I wonder if I can get better one…

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Free delivery, how generous.

Not happening! Still, I oughta give this a real shot with a tape that didn’t spend a full decade melting in my parents’ attic. I ran off to Half Price Books and looked for something I would know from my post-cassette days. I ended up finding George Strait’s Greatest Hits and “Southern Accents” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Two albums for two bucks isn’t a bad price. I won’t get into economics but I will say something inferior and outdated is usually pretty cheap. So far the clerk’s story was holding up. I went to check out.

Clerk: “George Strait! Nice choice.”

Me: “Thanks. Hey, do a lot of people buy cassettes here?”

Clerk: “No. I’ve been here two years and you’re the first.”

Hm. Still, the woman at Waterloo Records was right about the cost. I headed off to Waterloo to see what they had. The first thing I noticed is that Waterloo had NEW tapes, not just used ones. I checked the back of a Blink-182 case and it was marked 2015; it was a reprint. Also, unlike the tapes at Half Price, this one ran 15 dollars. Is that really the cheaper option? I checked the same album on CD: $7.50. It literally cost twice as much! That’s the opposite of cheaper!

Okay, this is a hipster thing, right? I should pick up a hipster album. Luckily, Waterloo Records is the filthy layer of rookie hipsters in Austin. Their competitors Breakaway Records and Piranha Records are fine places to find wide selections and knowledgeable staff but Waterloo is where you can go to find a table full of local Austin hipster band cassette tapes. And that table is where I found this gem:

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Half of the song titles are smiley faces and card symbols. I’m not kidding.

Don’t let the number of tacks fool you. The songs are so short, this tape actually has two albums on it. Don’t let the price fool you. The band is so bad, this tape is actually worthless. I went to check out.

Me: “Do y’all sell cassette players?”

Clerk: “Nah, they don’t really make them anymore.”

You don’t say.

Clerk: “You’ll have to go to a Goodwill or something. But if you’re interested, you can have this. It’s a new band from around here. Oh, and this one too. They’re pretty good. These cassettes are great for local bands just getting off the ground.”

He handed me two tapes, one of which was actually a promotional cassingle. For those of you who don’t know: a cassingle is a tape with only one song on each side.

My cassette deck was long dead and no one I knew had one, so I checked out three separate Goodwill stores before I finally found one. (Well, the second one had a Hello Kitty alarm clock but that wasn’t gonna happen.) I took it home and opened my mind to something new. And apparently, something broken. I took it back and found another one. The rewind didn’t work but I knew just what to do!

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You would need a machine to rewind a CD.

I popped George Strait in first. The first most glaring problem with cassettes came out immediately: the quality is terrible. Later on I did some research into cassettes online and found a weirdly large number of people rallying for cassettes. A common argument supporting cassettes is that there actually are high quality tapes out there. This is technically true but very misleading. Anything you buy with music already put on it is low quality because the high quality ones run 15 to 30 dollars EACH. Even then, you need a high quality cassette player that will run you into the hundreds of dollars. Most cassettes you can buy are poor quality and chances are any cassette deck you find will be poor quality too. The Tom Petty album did sound a little better. The first one was probably damaged by the previous owner; a common problem with cassettes.

Next, I turned to the hipster bands. They were all terrible Austin Punk bands. Terrible. Punk is bad by itself but under-produced hipster punk is just garbage. The man at Waterloo said that local bands use tapes to record and distribute. A quick check online shows that you cassettes cost about 5 times the price of CDs so that idea is DOA, not to mention the longer write time per unit.

It’s downright asinine to use cassette tapes for recording. You can buy specialized equipment that lets you simultaneously write to the left and right stereo tracks of both the A and B sides but you limit yourself to four tracks for mono or two tracks for stereo and you get next to no mastering options. Digital recording software is far cheaper and much higher quality. Just look at Grimes. She does pretty much all of her writing, recording and production with just Apple Garageband.

The last thing I could think of is the timbre, the unique sound. Cassette music sounds muddled, like all the instruments are playing over each other. One reason I prefer high quality digital and vinyl records is that the high quality lets me clearly hear all of the instruments and even the tiny imperfections, like Dave Grohl’s fingers sliding against the strings when he shifts along the fretboard. Maybe hipsters don’t want that. Maybe they want a medium that hides minor things like their bands’ lack of talent.

No, this also didn’t make sense, either. If a band was going for that effect, they would alter the production. The Black Keys* couldn’t afford quality recording equipment so they steered into the skid by cranking up their fuzz pedal and creating a style out of lo-fi. They sound great on any medium and are the greatest band to premiere after 2000.

geniuses
Geniuses

That was it. I was stuck. Every reason seemed legit from a distance but failed after a moment of scrutiny. Cassettes seemed to lose every round to CDs, vinyl and most of all: digital. They only really beat out 8-Tracks. Except cassingles, which are worse than 8-Tracks.

I was ready to let go when a miracle happened. A friend of mine invited me to hang out with him and a friend of his in downtown Austin. This guy was from out of town and wanted to be a tourist for the evening, so we were going to meet at Waterloo Records, which I learned at that moment is a tourist spot. We browsed the store for a while and when it was time to go, the tourist actually bought a cassette tape. Some band I’d never heard of. This was my chance to learn first hand!

Me: “So, why by this on cassette instead of CD or vinyl?”

Tourist: “Oh, I’m not going to listen to this. I already have it on CD and vinyl.”

It wasn’t so much what he said as it was how he said it. Of course he wasn’t going to listen to it! At first, I was shocked but then the answer struck me. You see, I had made the assumption that music was for listening. This man bought the album more as a decoration, like a poster. It all came together. There was no inherent quality to cassettes that hipsters are after, it’s just that the cassettes are not the same. That’s why there is so little nostalgic music but so much niche music on new cassettes. Once you buy it, you’re in, you’re cool. But whether you buy cassettes to be part of the hipster club or buy them to just not be in the mainstream, you’re buying cassettes for other people.

People can debate the merits of CDs or vinyl or wav files but at least the reasons are all for the music. Cassettes only carry the justifications not relating to music. As an alternative to cassettes, I suggest this: Buy your music for yourself. You wouldn’t buy a steak to show off that you eat steak then not eat it. Get the cut you want, then eat your steak. ∎

-MTL

Oh, and to the hipsters: Next time you want to use an outdated technology to distinguish yourself, I recommend film cameras. They’re a huge pain and no one’s gonna follow you. Not even me.

*Special thank-you to Geek Gone Rogue contributor Amy for introducing me to this band.

An Update From GeekGoneRogue

Hello all,

First off, I wanted to just say thank you to everyone who has been following geekgonerogue.com recently. It has completely blown me away over the last couple of months that we have received so much support and all of the new followers that we have been picking up. It has been a fun project and one that we hope to continue to grow in the future. That being said, we have definitely been slacking this month with regards to updates and content, and for that I am sorry. It has been a crazy time in my life with regards to some family issues and some career issues that have somewhat taken over all of my free time. The good news is, it looks like everything is starting to settle back down now and I am going to make a serious effort over the next few weeks to make up for all of the time that was lost. Fingers crossed nothing else crazy happens in the near future, but even if it does, I just want to say thanks for hanging in there and bearing with me. Please continue to check in to what we have going on and give us feedback on what you think we can do to make both the site and our content better.

Also, I wanted to provide an update on what we will have coming up this month so that hopefully it will give everyone something to look forward to. Hopefully before April we will have a new site design, we know what we have been rocking for the last few months is VERY basic and definitely needs a facelift and we are going to be making it a priority. Starting the end of this week we will have our first impressions/review in progress for The Division, along with our normal articles and stories. We are also looking into some GeekGoneRogue merchandise to be rolling out here shortly, as well as a weekly podcast that should be rolled out by the end of the month. Long story short, there will be quite a bit of new content coming your way in the days to come, and we hope you like what we are rolling out. That is all for today, and again, thanks to all my Geeks out there for keeping us going!

-CDL

Long Time No Blog

Well hello again Blog, long time no see. And hello again to the few people who may have stumbled here over the last few months. Unfortunately this year life has gotten a little crazy and so it has been quite awhile since my last post. However, I am making a point to do a new update at least every two days for the rest of the month, just to see how that goes and as a little personal challenge. So, with that said, if you like what you have seen before or like what I have to say now, please feel free to come back, there will be more!

So without further ado, here is what I am working on at the moment! For those of you that don’t know, November is Nanowrimo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. basically there is a website set up to allow people to try to write an entire novel (50,000 words) in a month. This was perfect for me as I have been off and on writing a novel myself for the last couple of years, and this was a perfect chance for me to sit down and bang the damn thing out. Unfortunately I did not hit my goal of the 50,000 new words, however I did get somewhere in the realm of 26,000. Roughly I am looking at around 40ish new pages. Definitely not a novel but it’s closer than I was in October so hey, yay for small victories. I figured I would go ahead and post one of the early chapters of said novel here just in case someone sees it one day and thinks it is something they would like to read more of. Take it for what it is please a very VERY first/rough draft of my story “A Litany of Shadows”. If you like what you see please feel free to leave a comment! And again, disclaimer this is one of the first drafts of this part of the story! I have actually already typed another version on my typewriter with a much better tone and with the characters a little more fleshed out. Anyways lets do this thing!

Chapter 2

The breeze picked up as Tac crested the hill, and the scene before him was nothing less than breathtaking.  The lake at the bottom of the valley was a deep blue, much like the color of the sky shortly after sunset. It was calmly resting in the valley in between one of the most impressive mountain ranges he had ever seen. Tac navigated his way through mountains before, however those were far to the south, and compared to the giants looming in the distance, they seemed like glorified anthills. “Well,” Tac stated, clanking at Navian in the corner of his eye, “I’m quite certain you didn’t lead us all the way here just for the view, as wonderful as it may be, so is now the point where you tell me exactly what our destination is?”

“Has anything changed since the last five times that you have asked that question, or some other variation of it?” She asked, not even slowing her pace, but continuing on down the path towards the lakeshore at the bottom of the hill.

“Well you can’t blame me for being curious,” he mumbled under his breath, quickening his pace to catch up with her. As he pulled up alongside again he noticed that her mask seemed a different color in this afternoon light. No longer did it seem navy blue, now caught in the bright rays of the sun it had taken on a deep indigo hue. The more that he stared, the more unnerved he became, thinking of what it must be like to live your entire life looking out at the world from behind a mask. His thoughts soon began to wander again to what she must look like underneath. Her body was nice enough…  who was he kidding, her body was great, and if it weren’t for the fact that she was so damned cold he would have started making moves on her days ago. Well, maybe not. At least not until he had gotten a look at her face. He didn’t want to jump on the body of a goddess only to learn she had the face of a demon.

“You are lucky you are being paid solely on the condition of my surviving this trip, and not on how quickly we get to my destination. If that were the case it would be you owing me gold with how much you have been slowing me down,” She stated in that same haughty tone that seemed standard when referring to the mercenary.

“Are you sure you are a sorceress and not a princess? You might want to look into that, with the way you complain it seems like a perfect fit for you. Maybe it could be your fallback if this whole magic thing doesn’t work out, since magic doesn’t seem like something you like to do. We have been travelling together for days and I haven’t seen anything to show me that you are any more talented than the crazy old witch that used to hand out ‘curative’ potions to people in my old fishing town and then curse young boys whenever they mocked behind her back,” Tac muttered, becomingly increasingly irritated by Navian and her constant criticism.

“Unlike you,” she stated in an exasperated tone, “I don’t need to advertise my strength with a huge sword and an over-inflated ego to compensate for my obvious… shortcomings. My power is not something to throw around without discretion. If the time comes, and I deem it necessary, you will see me speak with a power rivaled only by the gods. Pray that it never comes to that.”

They walked in silence for awhile, each absorbed in their own thoughts of whether or not this arrangement was the right choice, or if they should just cut their losses and part company here. However Tac was nothing if not stubborn; he had never reneged on a contract in the past, and certainly didn’t want to set that precedent now.  After all, for a mercenary, your reputation is your greatest asset. Without it you are just a man with a sword to swing, but nothing to swing it at. He sure as shit wasn’t going back to the military.

Navian’s reasons were just as selfish, if not as noble. Truth be told she could most likely make this journey without Tac’s assistance. She was handy with her dirks, able to hold her own in a straight fight. However if things were really out of hand, she always had the power. If that combination was not enough to defeat whatever was attacking, then Tac and that oversized sword of his would be no help, he would simply be dead alongside her. He did however have his uses. Ever since the incident in Dromsir Downs, the school had been heavily criticized for allowing their students to unleash their deadly songs in situations that didn’t call for it, in this case leading to the death of numerous bystanders. Truth be told, now was simply not a good time to be a magic wielder, and it’s not like she was going to remove her mask and try to move among the public as a normal person. Not when she had spent most of her years training, and poured her blood, sweat, tears, and soul into earning the right to wear her mask, and etch it as her own. No, it was much easier to hire this thug to follow her like an over-talkative shadow, and allow him to step in if she were to engage in a minor scrap.

“Well it’s going to take days to walk all of the way around this lake, but if we can find a boat we can probably make it across by nightfall, and camp on the other side. Maybe there is a ferry or a good Samaritan that will let us use their boat,” Tac said.

“This time at least, I believe you are right,” agreed Navian “let’s head along the shore and see what we can find”.

*                             *                             *                             *                             *                             *                             *

The sun was high in the sky when Tac spotted what looked to be a small cottage in the distance. There was a surprisingly large boat moored to a hand-made dock in front. The boat bobbed up and down as the wind-blown waves lapped against the shore, paying tribute to a time when this lake was well travelled and the need for large numbers of people to get across to the distant shore in a short amount of time required the boat to be in constant transit, sometimes carrying up to twenty people at once. From the look of the algae built up on the hull, those days had long since passed.

“Well, it looks like we have found our way across the lake, although she sure ain’t pretty,” Tac said skeptically as he surveyed the ferry.

“As long as it floats, it will serve our purpose,” the sorceress replied, continuing on towards the cottage. “We simply need to negotiate our price, and be grateful we will not have to spend two days walking around this lake.”

“You say that now, we will see if you are still as steadfast when this deathtrap sinks halfway across the lake and you must start swimming for shore, because I am sure not going to be carrying your prissy ass,” Tac said under his breath, mounting the steps to the house and knocking on the door.

Navian heard his remark and simply clinched her fists and ignored it, making a mental note to keep an eye out for a new and hopefully quieter bodyguard at the next town. “Knock again,” she ordered, impatient to get this over with and be sitting on a boat after a full day of walking. They stood outside for a few minutes, with Tac’s knocks getting increasingly louder. Finally, after much cursing from himself, and much sighing from his counterpart, the mercenary lost his patience and opened the door.

The first thing that struck Tac about the ferryman’s house was how completely empty it looked, followed shortly by the sickly sweet smell of decay. Tac unslung his broadsword and stepped slowly into the room, squinting to see into the darkness. “Stay there Navian, something is wrong,” Tac ordered, making his way along the wall, trying to find a window to allow more light into the room. He suddenly had so squint as the room lit up brightly and then dimmed down. As Tac blinked to clear his eyes from the momentary blindness, and saw that the sorceress had followed him into the room, and was now standing at its center, holding a perfect globe of light in the palm of her hand.

“Why do you pay for a bodyguard if you don’t listen when I try to protect you?” Tac growled, becoming increasingly frustrated with his hard-headed employer. He was also quite irritated with the fact that she had so recklessly blinded him and left him completely exposed to potential attackers. “And what’s with the lights, you could have gotten me killed!”

“Right, because you would have done such a good job of protecting me by bumbling around in the dark. I was trying to help you see!! I admit that I overdid it at first, and for that I am sorry,” she replied, holding out her hand and in it her own personal sun.

“It was still reckless,” he muttered, staring at her expressionless mask, and then turning to face the unoccupied room. If he thought she was unsettling before, seeing her mask in this light made her look even less like a human and gave her an almost menacing quality. “There could still be someone in one of those back rooms, so will you PLEASE—“

“Tac, look, by the fireplace!” She exclaimed, stepping forward and increasing the size of her orb.

As the pool of light grew, Tac was able to gather two more facts from the scene before him: what had happened to the furniture, and where the awful smell was coming from. As far as he could tell, it seemed that someone had attempted to break down every piece of furniture that was once in the room and turn it into kindling for the fireplace. Not only that, it seemed that halfway through their mission, they had given up and started piling everything, including tables, chairs, and other pieces of furniture in front of the fireplace and attempted to set them all ablaze. And from the looks of the scorch marks covering the surfaces of the wood, they had succeeded; it was a miracle that the whole building hadn’t burned down. But even more disturbing than all of this was the tormented scene next to the attempted inferno, and the source of the awful stench.

Curled up on the floor was the remains of the ferryman and what Tac assumed was his dog. They were on the floor, and quite literally wrapped around one another. It seemed as if the ferryman had sat down on the ground and embraced his companion and they had simply died that way, and not recently either, the remains were at least a few moons old.

“What the hell happened here,” Tac pondered aloud, kneeling down to examine the bodies.

“There doesn’t seem to be any sign of violence,” Navian ventured, “maybe a suicide? He was obviously trying to take everything he owned with him in the blaze, I just can’t fathom how this entire house didn’t burn down.”

“Suicide is I was thinking too, except there is something about it that doesn’t sit well with me,” Tac said, still surveying the scene before them.

“And what is that,” asked Navian, for once not showing any signs of sarcasm, but instead with a clear sound of uneasiness in her voice.

“The dog,” Tac replied, turning towards Navian with a frown, “even if he was going to set this place on fire and burn himself to death, there is no way the dog would have just sat there and burned too. All animals are terrified of fire, even if he were holding on to his pet, it would have been biting, clawing, doing anything he could to get away. That is not the case here; it doesn’t look like there was any struggle at all. It makes no sense.”

“Let’s get out of here, it’s clear he isn’t going to be ferrying us anywhere, and this entire situation is giving me a bad feeling.”

“I must say, you are in luck miss,” Tac said, following her out the door, though not without one last glance behind him. “you remember I told you I was once a soldier, but before that I was a fisherman’s son, and I can sail that boat myself and have us across this lake before nightfall.”

“Are you sure?” Navian asked, looking more than a little skeptical.

“Sure, that boat isn’t much bigger than my father’s fishing skiff,” he replied, already making his way to the dock, “besides, I want to get away from this place, something still feels wrong, and it’s not like the ferryman is going to use it any time soon.”

“I agree, I will feel better when we have put distance between ourselves and the tragedy inside.” Navian said and then paused, “hopefully we fare better with this boat than those poor souls.”

*                             *                             *                             *                             *                             *

Tac stood at the stern of the ship, staring out across the water at the distant shore that had long since stopped getting any closer. The wind had slowed to barely a breeze at sundown, and as the moon rose higher in the sky, had ceased blowing completely. “Now I remember why I became a soldier and not a fisherman”, Tac thought glaring at the slack sails above him, “I don’t care what my father said, a profession left up to forces as fickle as the wind is for madmen.”  He looked over at Navian, who had fallen asleep shortly after sunset, leaning up against one of the railings, At least he thought she was asleep, however there was no way to know for sure, she was still wearing that mask, and as far as he knew she might have simply been acting asleep and instead been following him with her eyes the entire time. “I don’t know how that girl could sleep in this weather,” he thought, pulling his cloak tighter around himself.  As soon as the moon had begun to rise, the temperature had seemed to plummet. This struck Tac as very strange, as it was still spring and the temperature had been quite moderate throughout their journey so far. There wasn’t even a storm on the horizon, the sky was perfectly clear; a beautiful display of stars seemed to surrounding the boat, as the brilliant lights reflected off of the still water around them. “Navian get up,” Ta called, walking over to the sorceress. She immediately stirred, sitting up and wrapping her arms around herself.

“It’s so cold,” she replied through fogged breath.

“Aye, and only getting colder.”

“How much longer until we reach the other side,” she asked, standing up and looking at the distant shower.

“That has yet to be determined,” Tac replied, “the wind completely died down about a bell ago, so as of right now, we are at the mercy of the gods. That is—“

“I know what you are about to say,” Navian said, rolling her eyes “and the answer is no!”

“Why not?!” Tac exclaimed, finally allowing himself to show some of the frustration that had been building up all afternoon. “You didn’t have any problem using magic back at the cabin!”

“Please keep yourself from talking about things that you know nothing about. What happened back at the cabin was little more than a glorified trick; even the youngest trainees back at the university can manage an orb of light. What you are suggesting is completely different. To produce enough wind to move us all the way across this lake would call for immense power and would be a blatant misuse of my gift,” she replied, in a voice full of disdain.

“Fine,” he said in disgust, throwing up his hands, “we can sit in the middle of this lake and freeze our asses off all night long.”

“I still don’t understand how it is so cold with no wind,” Navian ventured, drawing a line with her finger in the frost building up on the railing, “And how the temperature has dropped so fast. It makes no…” her voice drifted off as she stared over Tac’s shoulder over the other side of the boat.

“What are you looking at?” he asked, turning. He scanned the water in the direction she was looking, barely able to make out the other shore in the darkness. After spending time staring at seemingly nothing, he finally noticed what had caught Navian’s eye: what seemed like three bluish-white lights moving back and forth across the shore. “What the hell is that?” he asked, looking back at the sorceress.

“Ancient spirits of the frost, common people call the wights,” she responded, in a voice that the mercenary had never heard from her. “They worship the moon, and on nights like this they like to celebrate by dancing in its light. Judging by the freakishly cold temperatures, I would guess that these were Frost Wights: souls born in the heart of winter, imbued with the power of cold itself.”

“Well, then we don’t have anything to worry about, right?” Tac asked, feeling his initial fear at the unexplained lights begin to subside.

“Ha,” Navian laughed, in a voice completely devoid of mirth, “quite the opposite actually, worship is best achieved in the form of a sacrifice, which now explains the ferryman.”

“The suicidal ferryman?”

“Put the pieces together Tac,” she answered, still staring at the lights dancing across the lake, “he wasn’t trying to burn his house down. He was trying to keep the cold at bay…”

*                             *                             *                             *                             *                             *                      *

“so we are just supposed to sit here and wait to be attacked?” Tac exclaimed, regretting more and more that he hadn’t simply kept to his drink that night at the bar and let this woman deal with her own problems.

“It’s all we can do,” Navian responded, “there is no wind as you so astutely pointed out earlier”

“Fine then,” Tac growled, sliding his sword out of its scabbard.

“Put that thing away,” Navian snapped, waiving a hand at him. “You would be better off finding a way to keep us from sinking due to all of the ice building up on the boat.”

Tac realized she was right, the deck, mast, and railing were beginning to glint from a thin sheet of ice, and sitting deeper in the water. He cursed and made his way belowdecks to attempt something that he could use to break it off. As Tac made his way down the stairs, Navian continued to watch the approaching lights, which had been growing larger with each passing minute as they danced their way across the water. Hopefully she could keep Tac occupied clearing the ice from the boat, and he would stay out of her way while she dealt with the wights. The last thing she needed was some over-amped macho man swinging his sword around while she was trying to concentrate on her spells.  “Hurry!” she called, “the closer they get, the faster the ice will build!”

He returned to the deck moments later, carrying a wooden mallet that the ferryman had kept onboard in case the boat were to ever need spur of the moment repairs. He placed his sword next to the mast and began hammering away with the mallet, breaking off chunks of ice and sending them cascading into the water. “How am I going to protect you if I am busy hammering this ice?” he yelled between swings.

“Just keep us from going under, I will do the rest,” she replied, momentarily taking pity on him. As brutish as he was, he did in fact have her safety as his first priority. “Now stop talking to me, they are here!”

Up until this point Tac had made a picture in his mind of how hideous and disgusting these evil spirits must look, however he soon learned they looked nothing like he had originally expected. In fact, he found that they were actually quite beautiful. Their naked bodies shimmered with a soft blue light, and they had what seemed like a shining mist floating about them at all times. They had each taken the form of women, with long hair trailing behind them, as if they were seeing them from underwater. Every movement that they made was permeated with grace, and for a moment all Tac could do was stare in awe. Then the cold hid. The air itself seemed to freeze, making it hurt to simply breathe. He had never experienced anything like this in all of his years of campaigning, and he hoped that he would live the rest of his days without ever encountering it again. He dropped the mallet, and picked up his broadsword as the first of the three wights slowly floated over the railing directly in front of him, completely exposed and leaving the other two in the water behind it. The boat groaned under the weight of the ice that was rebuilding at a much faster rate now that the ice-spirits were in such close proximity.

“Don’t!” Navian shouted, as Tac put every ounce of strength he had into his first swing, intending it to be a death blow, and to sever the beautiful body in front of him completely in two. As his blade touched the body, Tac’s arms were immediately struck numb, as if he had just struck a large rock. A loud crack ripped the air, and Tac stared in shock at what was left of the sword in his hands. The blade was snapped off about three inched from the hilt, and the entire surface was coated in frost. The rest of the blade had broken clean through and went skittering across the deck, sliding to a stop next to the railing, inches from being lost into the waters of the lake.

“My sword!” Tac exclaimed in a voice of anguish at the loss of his most precious possession. He dove to the deck in order to recover the broken piece before it could fall overboard, wincing as his skin adhered to the frozen metal. As he tried to stand, he turned to see the Wight hovering just inches from his body. Just as he closed his eyes in order to prepare for the pain of death that was sure to come from contact with the creature, he was thrown from his feet against the rail by a concussion that rattled his teeth and set his ears to ringing. As he opened his eyes, the Wight was nowhere to be seen. It had instead been replaced by one of the most breathtaking and awe inspiring visions he had ever laid eyes on. Navian was hovering, ten feet over the boat, with her arms outstretched, the lines and glyphs on her mask glowing with a light that could rival the sun. The power emanating from her could only be described as terrible, and his jaw dropped at the sounds and words being uttered with a force completely out of this world from behind her mask. To attempt to describe the sounds would be impossible, but the closest thing that one could compare it to is a symphony of pure power. Tac was transfixed, staring at his companion who had suddenly become an agent of destruction.

The boat groaned again as the ice began to stress the wood, almost to the point of shattering. Tac realized that if he didn’t do something about it immediately, they would be going under, seeing it was already sitting feet lower in the water, as opposed to inched before. He ran to the stairs and tossed down the pieces of his broken sword, cursing as the metal left his hand, taking the entire top layer of skin that had melded to the blade with it. He picked up the mallet with his bloody hands and began pounding away at the ice once again, feeling as well as seeing the battle play out around him.

As soon as their counterpart was destroyed, literally ripped to shreds by the power called down by the sorceress, the other two wights attacked. They stood, side by side, and thrust their arms out in front of their bodies, shooting brilliant beams of azure light at the boat, intending to simply turn it into a giant block of ice and send it straight to the bottom of the lake.  However, a few feet in front of the boat, the beam exploded out in all directions, as if it had struck an invisible wall. Navian’s mask then shown even brighter as she countered their attack with one of her own, drawing a glyph in the sky and sending a series of geometric lights arcing out from the body and into the wights. Tac heard the spirits send out an otherworldly shriek as the shapes ripped through their bodies. One seemed to simply fall apart into mist as its companion attempted to flee. It tried to race back towards the opposite shore, but the sorceress was not one to show mercy once her power was unleashed. She drew another glyph in the air and dropped her with an air of finality. Tac was again thrown to the ground as a shockwave jumped out from her body, shaking lose most of the ice, and racing after the Wight. The panicked creature let out a final shriek as what was left of its body was utterly destroyed, torn apart down to the last atom by Navian’s power. Tac couldn’t bring himself to move as he watched the sorceress slowly settle back down to the deck. He had never before encountered such an awesome power, and what he had seen had shaken him to his core. As he lay there, trying to figure out what to make of it all, a warm breeze began to blow.

 

Geek Gone Rogue

 

Does a blog need an introduction? My mind is telling me yes, however I know that if I was a reader and somehow stumbled onto a blog and the only post was an introduction that would probably annoy me on some level. Then again who exactly am I going to annoy? This is a new blog with no content and no readers so I can write whatever I want. This is what real freedom feels like. I’m not exactly sure why I’m doing this. The idea took root in my mind and would not go away, so this will basically be a way to scratch that itch and pretend that I am a real writer until someone tells me differently. And then probably still because I am nothing if not stubborn. I will write about things that interest me, mostly gaming, sports, fiction of all kinds, and whatever else draws my eye on a given day. I hope that this will improve my writing as well as give me an outlet for various musings. My wife and dogs will approve. So I guess that’s it. I hope at some point someone will read this and get something out of it. Welcome to Geek Gone Rogue.