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.


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?)


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!


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


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


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.


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.



        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.


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.



Where’s The Love For Final Fantasy XII?

        Last month marked the 10 year anniversary of Final Fantasy XII, one of the last games ever released for the Playstation 2. Upon it’s release, it received multiple game of the year awards and became the 6th best selling PS2 game in 2006. That being said, it was a game that severely divided the Final Fantasy community and never reach the fandom of some of it’s predecessors. The new licensing system, the uncontrollable (and mostly unknown Espers), and a completely new battle system was a very hot and cold issue with the Final Fantasy faithful. Although many of the issues that people had with the game were eventually remedied in the international version of the game Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System however at that point many players had shifted to the new Playstation 3 system and so it was too little too late. So, over the years Final Fantasy XII has fallen to the wayside. It is the only game that has yet to get some sort of PC release or some sort of remaster/HD version. There have been a few rumblings over the last year or so of some potential remaster being released, but with Final Fantasy XV coming out later this year, Final Fantasy VII being remade, and a few other new titles coming out in the next few months, things aren’t looking good for a FFXII in 2016.

        It’s a damn shame too, because XII really is a hidden gem of the franchise. The world of Ivalice was visually interesting, and the game going back to it’s true fantasy roots was a nice change of pace from the futuristic sci-fi fantasy hybrids of the more recent games. The actual characters may not be as iconic as Cloud and Barret, or Tidus and Yuna, but they are still memorable and fun to play. The cast was varied and fun, and I’m not gonna lie, Fran was uh…. yeah, my teenage self thought Fran was REAL nice.

Ten years later and that outfit still holds up

        On top of that, I thought the Gambit combat system was awesome. Being able to customize the AI for my parties and then trying my strategies out against different groups of monsters was a blast. It was a system that has now been emulated by other popular games since then (the creators of Dragon Age Origins directly said that the gambit system inspired their party systems). It was a perfect merging of strategy and action that took much of the pain out of grinding. There were also Elite Hunts that you could challenge and hidden dungeons and Espers that added hours to the normal game, if you decided to focus more on exploring. Overall it was a fresh new take on the Final Fantasy formula that really tried to take players in a new direction (and succeeded a hell of a lot better than XIII did), and although at times it didn’t quite feel like you were playing a Final Fantasy game, I loved it. Seriously, the only reason I still have a PS2 floating around my house is that every once in awhile I blow the dust off and take the game for another spin. It’s kind of funny, I think the reason that FFXII wasn’t as popular back in 2006 is because some of it’s concepts were just a bit too ahead of the times. When I play the game now it seems more familiar due to games such as the aforementioned Dragon Age, the Witcher, Mass Effect, and others that share some very similar gameplay elements. Truthfully, I think that this is the game that, once polished up and rereleased for a modern console it is going to be the one that translates the best overall gaming experience. It won’t feel as out of place as say the remaster of FFX which, although still a wonderful story and great to look at, seems very slow paced for a modern console release. I guess I will have to wait and see once FFXII does get released in some capacity down the road. Until then, show it some love! If you have a rare copy still floating around somewhere try it out again, you may find that you like it more the second (or third, or tenth) time around!


Well, Maybe There’s Hope For Us Yet

I’m sure that the world was a scary place when I was growing up, full of just as much war and disease and oppression as there seems to be this day in age, but now that I am older (although not as much wiser as I would like to be) it seems like these types of news stories get to me more and more each day. The election is an absolute clusterfuck, but then again they probably all have been and this is just the first time I have actually cared enough to read an article about it. The world is gradually warming and melting polar ice caps. Countries I would have a hard time finding on a map are fighting other countries that I would have a hard time finding on a map, and are threatening the few countries I could find. Discrimination and racial tension are running rampant throughout the country and are showing signs of getting even worse before they get any better. The goddamn Kardashians are popping up on my news feed for some God-awful reason. The point is as a no-longer-quite-so-young adult, the world I am living in now seems a few shades darker than the world I grew up in. At least it is on most days.

It’s what we all keep telling ourselves

        Don’t worry guys, there is some good news mixed in there as well, if you look through all the muck and mire long enough that is. Stories of the largest coal mining company in America declaring bankruptcy. Sure, it’s a story that is sad for the employees involved, however what we are really seeing is a shift in the global perception of what is and what is not an acceptable form of energy. Of course that doesn’t mean that everyone is rolling around in electric cars and popping up wind turbines in their yards in order to power their homes, but it is progress. It is a sign that as the younger generation steps into the higher levels of industry, we are no longer content to just maintain things as they once were. We accept that the planet is important and that as much as some would like to deny it, things are starting to look a little grim. It’s the beginning signs of accountability for a species that has spent almost all of it’s history just bulldozing right past it. There are other stories of progress such as the SpaceX reusable rocket landing or the fact that GE recently created a turbine the size of a car exhaust that can power a small city. It also runs of carbon dioxide, the same shitty stuff that we have been tossing into the ozone for the last few hundred years! Progress is being made! Sweet and glorious progress. These aren’t the only ones either, there are even more stories like these if you know where to look.

        Now, none of these things are going to completely solve the world’s problems on their own, but when you start putting them together over time it shows a shift in the mindset of humanity that gives me something to hold on to at night. Stories like these may be the diamonds in the rough at this point, but for right now it’s all I need. These are my stars in the dark night. Plus, they give me something more interesting to talk and write about than what is going to kill me the next time I step out my front door.

Angry Programmer Deletes 17 Lines of Code, Literally Breaks the Internet

        Coding can be a very finicky business. That isn’t really news to those in the industry, however that didn’t stop many companies in Silicon Valley from getting a nasty surprise last week when an upset employee had a falling out with npm, Inc. and deleted all of the code that he had written for them as he walked out the door. Typically that would not have been all that big of a deal had his code not been currently being used by Javascript users at Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, and dozens of other companies at the time. Long story short, it immediately broke the builds of thousands of programmers over the course of a few minutes. Granted, they started developing workarounds almost immediately and were able to mitigate the damage in the long run, but it still shook things up enough that people began to question why the source code was so easily deleted by one person. For more information about the story, as well as the drama leading up to the fallout head on over to arstechnica to read the full article.


Counting Sheep

This way: The sheep at the front head in the right direction and influence the other members of the herd

From this perspective it might look like small white fish in a green pond, or a herd of wild lice roaming a green scalp, but these are actually sheep. They are being expertly herded by dogs in an effort to move them from one pasture to another. Sit back and relax and watch the video on this site along with the full article. If you are not a little sleepy by the end then you probably have had too much coffee.



Google Computer Beats Professional Go Player


A massive accomplishment has been made in the development of artificial intelligence. For the first time a computer has beaten a professional go player. For decades humans have been creating computers to play games. This may be a combination of a deep fear, that all scientist secretly share, of having to interact with other humans and their general their love of board games, or it may be because board games require decision making skills. The more complex they are, the more intelligence and skill are required to play them well making them a perfect way to measure a computer’s thinking power. In the past scientist have created computers capable of playing and winning at backgammon, checkers and chess. The last of which involves a rather famous incident where the computer Deep Blue beat the reigning world champion Gary Kasparov. So what is go and why is this a bigger leap than beating Kasparov you might ask? Well go is an ancient Chinese game with relatively simple rules, the difference for a computer is more of scale than anything else. There are approximately 4,670,033 possible variations on a chess game which is certainly quite a large number, but not out of the realm of possibility for a computer to analyze and predict its opponents moves. Go however has a possible 2.082 × 10^170 variations, which is a number so large it is hard to comprehend. Just let the enormity of that number sink in. Here is a link to their published paper.


How Long is too Long?

I recently read a review about The Hateful Eight when I was deciding if it was worth seeing in theaters. This is not really about the movie, but when I saw the run time was 187 minutes it got me thinking. How long is too long? At what point do you say “Ain’t nobody got time for that” and just redbox or netflix it? At what point do you say “screw this movie” and not watch it at all, like ever? Not all long movies are bad, Return of the King was 201 minutes, Braveheart was 178 minutes, and Schindler’s List was 195 minutes. In fact with the exception of 12 Angry Men all of the top ten movies on IMDb’s Top rated movies list are over two hours long. Those nine movies are all longer than the average of their time, some significantly longer. When you look at the list of top grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation  Gone with the wind comes in at the number one spot and it is 238 minutes long! That is just barely under four hours, that is long enough that I would never go see it in theaters (assuming time travel or a special showing), but judging by the fact that I have seen it a few times at home, it is obviously not so long that I would never watch it. At three to four hours I will not go see it in theaters unless I have a special attachment to the subject matter (i.e Lord of the Rings). Over four I am just not going to see it in theaters, sorry directors but if it is that long I will watch it at home so I can drink beer and pause the the movie when I inevitably have to break the seal. That being said at four hours I might not even watch it at home unless I know it is something special. Still the numbers do not lie it seems that what we consider the best of movies tend to be longer than average. Just for fun check out this list of movies with the longest run times. If any of you have seen any of these please let me know in the comments.

Nicolas Cage Returns Stolen Dinosaur Skull

     Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton        Oh Nicolas Cage, you never fail to intrigue. At this point you are a living, breathing, walking meme. You are meta personified. You buy castles, king cobras, and collections of shrunken heads. Who else would buy a stolen dinosaur head and then be contacted by homeland security to it’s rightful country? No one that’s who.

        Apparently the skull was from a Tyrannosaurus bataar and was purchased through an auction back in 2007. Since then it has come to light that the skull was stolen and needed to be returned to it’s proper government, in this case Mongolia.  While in this case, Nicolas Cage had nothing to do with the theft and he has been found innocent of any wrongdoing, it just seems wildly  appropriate that his name would be the one attached to this bizarre crime. Nicolas Cage: Dinosaur Thief sounds like a great working title for the biography of his life.


For the full story click here.


When Kickstarter Goes Wrong


It is safe to say that since it’s launch in 2009, Kickstarter has created a crowd funding phenomenon. The New York based company has been the driving force behind some great projects. From gadgets such as the Pebble Smartwatch to movies  and television shows like Veronica Mars and Reading Rainbow that people have been wanting back on the air for years, the site has served as a voice and a banner for people to come together and put up money to get these things done. Perhaps no industry has shown more evidence of this than gaming. Currently 2 of the top 3 and 7 of the top 25 highest grossing Kickstarter projects  are video games. This includes the ranking number one highest funded project, Star Citizen which holds the Guiness World Record and is currently sitting at over $99,000,000 raised. Granted, not all of the money came from Kickstarter itself however that is where the project got started and originally gained most of it’s momentum. The point is that games such as Psychonauts 2, Battletech (which conveniently I was just talking about in this post), Shenmue III, The Bard’s Tale IV and many others that could not get funding from a major studio are now seeing the light of day based purely on the demand of people who want to play them. It really is a great sign for a developer that you know that there will be a market for your game when it is released and that you aren’t going to have to try to sell it to someone up front, because the only people you answer to, your backers, are the ones that are giving you the money to make it. Clearly it seems like a perfect win-win system that will become even more popular in gaming development in the future, which is why it really got me to thinking when I saw an article pop up on my feed today about a Kickstarter project gone awry.


        Project Phoenix is a Kickstarter campaign being run by the company Creative Intelligence Art, Inc. and was launched in 2013 with the aim to “set a new standard of excellence for the Japanese gaming industry”. First off, that’s quite the boast there. It was also stated to have a hot-shot head programmer at the helm although at the time they declined to actually name who it was (later revealed to be Moon Studios programmer David Clark of Ori and the Blind Forest fame). Unfortunately for their Kickstarter backers, it has since been revealed that not only was Clark no longer joining the project, but the game has now been delayed until 2018. Now delays are not something completely uncommon in the gaming world, and it is often you will hear a release date being pushed back for a few months to put some last minute “polish” on a game. That being said, 2 and a half years? That’s brutal. Especially because they are not currently issuing refunds to those that funded the project and who are now wanting to get off of what looks to be a sinking ship. The situation has brought to light some of the pitfalls of backing a project such as this. What happens when they team doesn’t deliver the personnel that they say they are working with? How long is too long of a delay? Should a backer be able to withdraw money should they not like the direction the project is taking? How much should their opinion matter, or should it even matter?  It’s not like it is completely unheard of in the crowdfunding community. Now granted, I understand that there is risk involved when you decide to back a venture that you are taking a gamble based on what you see and then you have to just live with the results, however in this case it seems that these backers have taken a gamble when they were presented with one picture, and now that picture has been gradually changing over the last two years, and now they have an even longer wait than what they have already endured, and who knows how much the finished product could change between now and then?

All in all, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Gofundme are becoming an ever more viable and powerful source for individuals to bring their products to the world, and there is evidence that this is only going to get more popular as time goes on. For every Star Citizen (who I may also point out has not actually delivered their game so who is to say it will be worth all the hype it has generated) there is going to be a Project Phoenix. Some people are going to make money and reap the rewards of having faith in a small group of people wanting to bring something new to the world, and some people are going to be burned. Hopefully this is not the case for those who funded PF, and hopefully we will all get to enjoy a game that breaks the JRPG mold and becomes wildly successful. Hell, I mean here I am talking about the game and it isn’t coming out for years so they must be doing something right. Only 2+ more years to wait!


What are your thoughts on the potential pitfalls of Kickstarter, and would you be willing to wait this long if you believed in a studio? Sound off in the comments!