Personal Projects

It’s been a while since I updated on life, so I’ll do that for those who might be interested.

Having finished out the original Ian Fleming James Bond novels, my buddy reader BrokenTune opted to go no further on that particular journey.  I’ll be continuing on with the other 007 novels accordingly.  In the meantime, we had such a blast comparing notes behind the scenes that we decided our buddy reading will continue on other things.  At some point we’ll be hitting the original Sherlock Holmes stories (which I’ve already posted a new project page for that).  We’ll get there.  In the meantime, we’ve got a random list of books in addition to Holmes, and we started off with Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.  Sounds like her post will drop sometime probably next week.  For myself, I’m closing on the end of the book and should be able to drop my review today.

Despite further attempts to turn my Raspberry Pi 3 into a retro gaming system, all efforts on this front have officially failed.  I am just not a programmer.  I don’t understand it, I don’t enjoy it, and the dynamics of Troy World prevent it from working even if I copy instructions directly.  I still have high hopes to do find something I can do with the RP3, being a versatile little machine, I’ll stay on the lookout for things that will hopefully help me to bridge the gaps in my knowledge and ultimately work out.

In the meantime, retro gaming is now a thing in my world in spite of the RP3.  I purchased a Super Nintendo clone system on the cheap along with a handful of old SNES cartridges, and everything went perfectly.  Ok, almost perfectly.  I discovered I have little to no expansion room in my home entertainment center, and the cords won’t reach from the TV to the couch to play such a system anyway, so I bought a small, cheap TV for my bedroom.  The TV in question works great and will only be used for gaming.  The problem is that they neglected to include the screws for the TV’s display feet so it could stand up.  I’ve currently got it propped on a bookshelf, so it works out just fine, but still… you knew something stupid was going to happen.  There it is.  I requested two screws from the manufacturer, and after days of back and forth with their customer service people, they’re still trying to ask questions to which I’ve already answered in regards to the product number, etc.  Very stupid.  It’s two screws.  It shouldn’t be this hard.  Ironically, the spare screws I have on hand won’t work.  I tried.  *head/desk*

I feel like I’ve really tapped a lost vein with this SNES.  My first gaming system was an Atari 2600, which Mom gave away because (so she says) the cords kept getting tangled.  Riiiiiiight…  Back in high school, I spent a small fortune on weekends at the local arcade playing Street Fighter II: The New Champions.  That’s now in my fledgling SNES library.  It’s a very different beast, using a dpad vs. the old console joystick, but I’m catching on pretty quickly.  I’m happy to report some positive side effects I didn’t anticipate.  I’ve always prided myself on not “wasting time” with a game system growing up.  Maybe that’s how I justified it to myself.  All I know is that 20 minutes after work beating on digital opponents is not only immense stress relief, it allows me to focus on other things the rest of the evening.  The problem is that, right now, this is a new toy.  So after those 20 minutes are up, I fix some food, handle some responsible adult type stuff, and then I’m questing with Link because I picked up The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.  What’s interesting is that this is working out far better than meditation for me.  It’s like I can focus on just this for an hour, turn off the machine, and in a side effect I couldn’t possibly have anticipated, I’m able to actually sleep.  Not only do I fall asleep quickly, I’m sleeping through the entire night.  My alarm goes off in the morning, and I sit there for a couple of minutes trying to figure out why I’m hearing music before I finally come to my senses.  This is three nights in a row, so it’s a trend!  People, if anyone had ever said I could potentially cure insomnia with a video game, I’d have done this years ago!  I have no clue how long this will last, but I’m taking it while I can get it.

Super Star Wars, Super The Empire Strikes Back, and Super Return of the Jedi will arrive today.  You knew I was going to have these.  I mean, c’mon.  It’s a no-brainer.  But alas, I will have to wait a few days more before I can properly enjoy them.

After I get through work today, it’s going to be a four-day weekend for me.  I’m taking an opportunity to completely unplug and relax in the relative peace and quiet in the country.  Being a holiday weekend here in the States that will bring out the absolute worst in my neighbors at home, and given the obnoxious remodeling construction that continues on the building I work in, my stress levels are peaked.  Seriously, it’s been jackhammers all day long, all week.  As I say, the video games have been great for managing the stress, but I still need to properly recharge away from any stimuli that can cause migraines (I’m prone to those).  My plan is to sleep some more, enjoy some quality food, and maybe read some more.  Beyond that, no plans.  I won’t be posting here all weekend, save for the usual Tolkien post that’s pre-timed and ready to go for Sunday morning.  (Side note: I’m really loving the deep dive through LOTR‘s Appendices).  I’ll certainly check in from time to time, keep up with other blogs I’m following, and reply back to any comments anyone may have left, but that’s about it.  When I get back into town Tuesday afternoon, I’ll start writing again.  I’ve got a few different project blogs marinating.  See that?  Sleep boosts creativity, clarity, and an inclination to actually accomplish stuff.  What a concept.

Also when I return, the new season of House of Cards will have dropped on Netflix, so that’ll take priority, and then at some point I need to revisit last season’s Game of Thrones on Blu-ray so I can be prepared for the big war this season.  Since I’ve already burned through the latest season of The Last Kingdom, that pretty much ends the priority TV list for a while longer.

Another thing that’s developed in my world is a new tool for my musical endeavors.  I don’t blog much about this, but I have three musical instruments, none of which I’m really good at.  I have a digital piano keyboard, a 12-string baby harp, and an ocarina.  The keyboard is something I’ve been messing with since I was in junior high.  My Grandma bought a digital piano to entertain the grandkids, and I was the only one of the entire brood that knew how to read sheet music.  It was basic stuff, and I largely only used it as a reference, but it triggered a hobby that played right into my natural aptitudes.  I’ve never figured out how to play a piano properly.  By now I really should have, but I can’t wrap my head around chords beyond basic theory, and my left hand is useless on piano keys — excuses, I know…  Instead, what I do is I’ll play various pieces of music from my collection and attempt to play along on the keyboard.  It’s the instrumental equivalent of singing in the shower with the radio.  In your head, it sounds better than it really is.  When I’m successful at it, it’s a way to engage with the music at a different level, which I’m all about.  It also occurs to me that this has been the closest equivalent to a video game for most of my life.  That’s been rather difficult to do with the harp or the ocarina, both of them being key of C instruments with limited range.  Well, my level of engagement with these instruments is about to change.  I’ve discovered something this week called Fake Books.  It seems there are tons of these out there.  Basically, these are transposed piano accompaniment sheet music books designed for beginners.  All pieces in them are key of C, limited range, and about as dumbed down as they can possibly be.  In short, perfect for my current needs on these other instruments.  What’s more, Fake Books are available for a wide variety of genres and eras, playing right into my greedy levels of versatility.  I’ve wish-listed a sizeable stack of these already, but I’ve only purchased one so far.  It should arrive next week.  I’m looking forward to seeing how that unfolds for me.  Here’s where it gets real.  Because these pieces are transposed to a different key signature, it means I can’t play along to recorded music.  I’ll have to *gasp* get better at making music on my own.  Oh, the horror.  lol.  Seriously, it’s been 30 years.  It’s time to take off the damned training wheels.  And to think, concert musician was the road not travelled for me.  If you just broke out laughing at that, I’m right there with you.  And yet, somehow I’m not ashamed either.  It’s just something that never quite developed properly, much like how my art skills never really manifested either.  In my head, everything works ok.  I know the theories of how and why it all works, but translation is lost somewhere en route to the fingers.  So you see, I have high hopes for these Fake Books.  If I can make one breakthrough off this plateau, it stands to reason I’ll make others.

That’s pretty much all I have to talk about for now.  How’s life going on your side of the screen?

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