So that happened, a series of unrelated events

Seems like a lot has been happening around Casa Cummings the last few days, all of it unrelated. To kick things off, we’re pretty sure we got hit by lightening late last week. At least that’s what we’re calling it – there was a white, blinding flash at the same time as our brains tell us there was a weird popping noise and a vibration that I could feel through my feet. The only casualty in our house was our router and the surge protector it was connected to – everything else seemed to survive unscathed. This isn’t the first time that we’ve had a close call – ten years ago the house across the street got hit and the lightening traveled down the line and into our house, burning out a DVD player and a TV. All things considered, I think we fared pretty well this time.

Private home reference library
Private home reference library (Photo credit: warwick_carter)

In other news, last night I sat down and began writing again. I have reached a place in my initial outline where my brain is ready for me to start putting words down. I was nervous at first – it had been months since I successfully strung anything together. I’ve set up a goal date and word count, with an implied minimum word count per day (a fluid number, I realize, as days with bursts will offset the quieter days). But it has begun. Last night I put down the first 1k of the rewrite of “The Shambling Man,” book one in my urban fantasy series.

And as a final capper – after a year’s absence, I finally went back to the gym today. As I joked on twitter, I mention this not to gloat, but as a notation for future scholars. Day one is easy, I’ve had plenty of them. It’s repeating this every day, every week, for months that is the true test.

That’s about it for now. More on this gym and writing thing in the next few days (I hope).

N.B. – The photo on this page is apropos of nothing actually discussed. I just like book porn, and despite my desire and need to consolidate my physical book footprint in the house, find rooms like this to be intoxicatingly alluring.

What this country needs is more robots.

Robot Wars (TV series)
Robot Wars (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning found me sharing my bed with a wife, a dog, and three children, all piled in to watch last week’s premier of Face Off. (The family that geeks together gets along together, right?) While watching SyFy (oh, how that name burns), a commercial came on for a new robot competition show, reminiscent of Real Steel, which sparked a great conversation and fond memories. Because what we want to see isn’t another reality show that’s all glitz and glamor, what we want to see is the revival of Robot Wars (UK version, that is. Sorry, the US version was weak and flashy and missing the appeal of the original).

In the Time Before Kids™, wife and I rented an apartment that cost as much as our mortgage. As you can imagine, this left us a bit on the penny pinching side. We were fortunate that we lived close enough to the megasuburbia of Northern Virginia/DC that we could get TV over the air (unlike at our current home), which meant we could get the cool PBS from over in MD – the one that still aired Doctor Who, Red Green, and the seminal Robot Wars, UK.

Robot Wars UK wasn’t about glitz. It wasn’t even 100% about the battles, although they were glorious. It was about Dads and daughters, sons and cousins, and the blokes you hang out with getting together and building something. Granny’s electric wheelchair made its courageous sacrifice to the cause. Welder’s torches were handled, and felt was applied (lest we forget the Irish ladybug that burst into flames when it hit the competition floor). It was about seeing what kind of crazy genius was lurking inside the guy next door when his robot rolled out with twin saws and no wheels.

It was inspiring.

Watching this show, you wanted to go out and learn how to build a robot yourself. How hard could it be? And that’s what this country needs right now – something to inspire us to go out and be inventive, to creatively explore building something new. Even if it is the chasse to the robots that will ultimately become our robot overlords. And if we know how they’re built, we’ll know how to stop them. Right?

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Do not adjust your sets

English: TV receiverIts almost comical, I think.

Looking back through the blog, it was at the end of May 2010 that our last last TV died and we decided to take a break from cable. Streaming media was still young back then, as were the ways you could catch it. I think Hulu might have been around, but buying a season of something on amazon was a hassle, and netflix wasn’t streaming like they are these days, and they certainly weren’t keeping up with current shows. Amazon Instant? Still in the far distance. This was, as they say, the dark age of streaming media options.

When I refer to “cable,” I am not referring to the ten thousand channel bazaar most people mean these days. For us, cable has and still is defined as basic-expanded cable, that subset of 60-80 channels (when I was a lad, we had 3, and we liked it!) that count as local channels plus the basics. Digital cable is something we experimented with once, didn’t really see the appeal of in comparison to the cost, and never went back.

We ended up replacing that TV eventually, but we also dropped cable for a while (about 8 or 9 months). It was actually a really liberating, freeing time in our lives. Sure, we had some setbacks, the kids especially – its easy to say you don’t watch much TV, until you realize that unconsciously you’ve been using it as white noise while you work in the evenings.

Time moved on.

We bought a new TV, mostly for gaming and video watching purposes. Eventually we added cable back into our diet (its complicated). Since then, though, streaming finally came of age. Today our family, on average, watches more via Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant than from actual “live” TV. We have been known to buy a season of a show off of Amazon so we can watch it on the roku when we choose, rather than trying to juggle our lives around a show we enjoy but that comes on at an awkward time. We are, in fact, so wedded to our streaming options that we have begun to reconsider dropping cable down to the basic channels again.

The comical part?

For completely unrelated reasons, we bought a new TV this weekend. Its a 32 inch diagonal LED flatscreen, which makes it about 12 diagonal inches larger than our last TV, which previously held the record as being our largest TV ever (the TV before that was another 2-4 inches smaller). If anything, besides the fact that my X-Box games and the kid’s Wii games look completely different when they are so huge and crystal clear, our conviction to do away with cable is growing. Why waste money on TV when we already get most of the shows, in better resolution and color depth, with existing options?

We are crazy, I know.

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