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Month: July 2016

Ghostbusters Motion Comic

 

The story below is all about Slimer taking possession of the Ecto-1 and the ghostbusters having to trap him.

The motion comic took approximately 30 hours of work from taking the photos to editing the video for movement to adding music.

I used adobe Photoshop, Premiere and Audition to create this motion comic. Also, most photos were taken by the iPhone 6s+.

Please scroll down to read this story in its entirety.

Intro of show

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car with peter and slimer

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Driving_Mr_sSlimer

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getting out of car and slimer

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slimer_ecto1_roof

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Slimed_by_Slimer

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This comic used the following Lego sets:

 

 

 

 

Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary:

Slimer Minifigure:

Photos taken by Sevanna and Richard Mathis,
Editing and story by Sevanna Mathis

 

Starting My First Cosplay – Maginos! Day 1

Hey everyone, I’m finally going to do a cosplay!

For my first cosplay, I’m going to be dressing as Maginos!  I’m not going to do a full helmet type cosplay, just a prosthetic, clothing, staff, and meeps.  It should be pretty awesome (I hope) while still looking like me.

M

I decided to make the staff out of spray foam, and I’m really trying to emphasize the big funky top of the staff.  I figure I have to start somewhere, and a staff with little decorations is as good a place as any to start with.

I’m recording all of it, so unlike a lot of videos that are just showing a particular technique, I don’t have any! 😉  Seriously though, if I like out the final product, I’ll probably cut up a speed video of just me making it, but this is more of my vlog hoping some of you will join me in my first tentative steps into cosplaydom.

So I did a couple hours of research, and I wanted to put some links to them if you want to see where I’m getting most of my techniques. First, my friend Ramsey said to check out Kamui, her site is amazing, check her out!

I also found Commishenanigans to be really helpful, you can check out her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgPl89ZHb6LbNZsxjmLpSKw

Finally, Morrigan had a great staff tutorial that I thought was really good, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yudd8aiOarg

The Big Book of Madness – Gameplay

This was our first Let’s Play!  We’ve since decided to switch things up a lot, but pretty cool to go back and watch this first recording of our board game!

 

Why I decided to go to College at 38

This weekend I finished up my last assignments for Quantitative Analysis, and as the next term of college comes up (WGU has its terms start February 1st and August 1st), it got me thinking about why I did this to myself.  Not that I’m unhappy, but definitely it was a lot more stress than I needed, so working my way through a video and this post, has helped remind me why I decided to do this.

I’m relatively lucky, the field I was most interested in, rewards passion and hard work more than a piece of paper.  If I had been interested in law, medicine, or any of another variety of paths, I guess I’d have pushed my way through college or still been working as a food server.  But instead, I maneuvered my way into IT and found that I loved it possibly more than even video games or board games.

But still, I’m forcing myself to go, mostly because I want to continue growing and feeling a sense of accomplishment one year to the next.  For the past 9 years, I’ve steadily gotten promotions, but that’s done now that I’m CTO.  Now I have to get degrees, become a speaker, write papers, get recognition for my accomplishments in an IT leadership role, etc.  These types of goals are much more meaningful than simply a replacement title on a business card, but they’re also much more difficult.

My friends and family know I love to work, and know I love doing things the hard way.  Still, despite as stubborn as I am, I’ll still tend to choose a way I know I’ll do well at rather than a way I’m going to face a lot of unknowns.  Over the next few years, I hope to really complete a lot of bucket list items, one of which is to get a degree, and WGU is helping make that happen.

WGU is pretty straight forward.   A purely online college that is accredited and has both a variety of programs.  You pay 3050 a term, take as many classes as possible for no additional fees, and continue each successive term until you graduate.  They’re a non-profit that has a goal of graduating students as quickly as possible, so none of those “trying to get you fail a class so you have to retake it” shenanigans here!  You choose which portions of each class you choose to do, with the only mandatory requirement usually being an exam or a paper.  Most of my classes I just choose to skip to the end, because in my role throughout the years, I’ve already picked up most of the knowledge I need to pass the classes.  This is a lot better than colleges that’ll say that you can test out of a class, as long as you pay…

Every student is assigned a mentor.  My mentor’s name is Sandy.  You talk as often as needed, or at minimum every two weeks.  I always feel like Sandy 1) knows who I am 2) has good advice for which class to take next and 3) brings a level of enthusiasm and support that makes me want to push forward and complete more classes.  Its really a bit ironic that when I went to traditional college for one semester in my 20s, I felt like I had less support and/or advice than I have from an online school with support from my mentor.

In short, WGU is the online college I always wanted.  As much or as little interaction with other people as I need, and a focus on completing the degree that I’ve never gotten the impression of from another college.

So I’ll probably get my degree by next summer.  What is next after that? I don’t know.  I think I’ll take that slice of time and try writing a book or try speaking at a conference or something.

Until next week, post below if you’re at a similar position in life and want to share what you’re doing.

 

Learning how to Setup and Play: Race for the Galaxy

For the most part, everything is in the video up above, but I like to give some textual content for these things, so I’m going to elaborate a bit on our home rules.

In general, I find home rules to be distasteful.  Sometimes friends will ask to change a rule to supposedly make a game “more interesting” and it always makes me feel like if I wanted something different, I could just play a different game.  I get that some other people like to experiment with existing game rules, I just never want to participate in those kinds of shenanigans.

Anyways, one area I usually “am” willing to experiment with, is manipulations of the random aspects of a game.  In particular, the way a game is setup, such as in Roll for the Galaxy with the starting homeworld and starting faction being random.  The fact that it is random, means that in theory you could end up playing the same combination of faction and homeworld multiple times.  Heck, you could end up randomly playing the “same” faction every single time!  Because random can sometimes not seem very random, I’m willing to override the randomnness as long as it retains the philosophy of the game itself.

In this case, Roll for the Galaxy intends for you to not know which faction or homeworld you’ll get, which I support as a strong gameplay element.  However, because as I explain in the video, I don’t like the feeling some players will have of feeling like they lost because of bad luck, I introduced the concept of receiving two random factions, then two random homeworlds.

This way, its still random which options are available to each player, but yet the players had a bit of control to nudge the game towards what they think will be an advantage.

So there you go, I think it works pretty well, and since playing this way, I can’t remember anyone complaining that another player had an “unfair” advantage.

What does everyone think? Do you enjoy messing with rules and playing freestyle? Do you dislike even my subtle manipulation of the rules?  Let us know!

America’s Love Affair With Spices

 

So I was looking at my spice rack lazy susan thing and I asking myself why I still kept it, even though I stopped using it a long time ago.  Of course, the answer is easy, because it was one of the last gifts from my father before he passed away.

However, just because I keep it, doesn’t mean I have to use it, and neither does anyone else!  I frequently see these sorts of contraptions at Target, and yes, I admit it, I feel this desire to have access to so many herbs without thought or planning!  The idea that I could have any herb I need whenever I need it seems amazing.

But lets face reality, this is the lure of the lazy.   We have multiple choices with how we approach cooking or seasoning in general.

  1. We can think about what we want to make for the next week or so, then buy just the amount and types of spices to make that food as delicious as possible.
  2. We can buy large quantities and/or types of spices so that no matter what we randomly decide to cook, we have the spices we need.

Its the American way to want unlimited everything even if we don’t need it.  But lets think about the cost for a moment.  First, its MORE expensive, not less expensive, to buy those mediocre mega-sized quantities of spices.  No no, I don’t want to hear about the sale price or the price per ounce.  For the majority of people, they’re either going to throw away those mega-spices after six months or so, or they’re putting in the spices despite the fact that they have little flavor left.  Second, those spices are often pre-ground, which means they inherently have less flavor than if you were to buy your spices whole.

So the only advantage of buying large quantities is so we don’t have to think.  I really want to help the world to not define itself by how little they had to think when doing something.  That isn’t something to be proud of.  Its smart to figure out ways to not have as much stress when doing something, but not at the expense of quality or money.

 

Now some of you may still be thinking about those little yellow tags telling you how much cheaper something is in the mega size, or you’re thinking even in the smallest size, its enough to last a year or more.  You might want quality and a good deal, but you probably don’t want to throw away large quantities of spices every few months, right?

Well here is a big secret!  Most Indian grocery stores sell herbs without a container!  Yes, you scoop how much you need and pay for just that.  Indians love their spices, and where-as Americans (I’m including myself in this category!) are easily lured by convenience, Indians want their spices fragrant, fresh, and whole!

In my video, I talk about what not to do and what to do regarding herbs.  I also talk about my chile powder recipe, which you can read here.

Save the Flavor, Save the… world?  Maybe? At the very least, Save the Flavor, Save your Meal!

 

Ecto-1 30th Anniversary Lego Build

 

Who you gonna call?

Out of no where a green blob of Ectoplasmic residue comes at you! You dodge the oncoming assault. But even as you do, some of the slime falls on you. It distracts you and the next thing you know Slimer has just flown through you, leaving you in a puddle of his residue. You scream… GHOSTBUSTERS! CALL THE GHOSTBUSTERS!

This is a video on putting together the Ecto-1 30th Anniversary.

Pros:

1) Very authentic and detailed. Reminds me of what the Ecto-1 looked like which is amazing.
2) The Ghostbusters themselves were super cute with their proton packs.
3) NO STICKERS! This was a $50 Lego set and it had no stickers, which was awesome!

Cons:

1) You can lift the roof off and place the guys in. However, the doors do not open and sometimes the items on the roof will fall off, making it inconvenient.
2) The play-ability is really none existent, the Ecto-1 is pretty fragile.

All-in-all, this is a great trophy piece for your desk or shelf.

To buy the movie:

To buy the Lego set:

Tribute to My Mom

my mom

July 5th, 2016

Today will mark the 26th anniversary of my mother’s death.  This is always the toughest day of the year, as anyone who has lost someone can relate. I was 12 when it happened. This is a tribute to her life and death.  Let me take you to the day she died to start the memory train of her life.

Around 10 am, I rolled out of my sleeping bag and walked over to my mom’s bed area in our air conditioned room.  In 1990, central air was not a thing, you had an air conditioning unit that just sat in the window (at least if you were within the poverty spectrum). Noticing that her bed  was not touched, I knew she was most likely downstairs. Sometimes she would sleep in the living room with a fan on her.

Getting to the last step, I turned right into the living room. I saw her lying on the floor with a blue sheet covering her body and the fan blowing her brown curly hair around.

Happy that she was okay, I decided I was going to make us breakfast as a peace offering.  The night before I argued with her about not wanting to do dishes.

In order to get to the kitchen, I had to go through the dining room. On the dining room table, I noticed my mom’s teddy bear, Snuggles. He was sitting on the table wearing his “I love Mommy” t-shirt.

The bear always made me smile, but this time it made me concerned. See, my mom never went anywhere without that teddy bear.  She would even put the teddy bear in a seat belt when she was in the car. She slept with it every night and when I was sick, she would let me sleep with him so that I would be feel better.

I knew she would be sad if she did not have it, so I picked Snuggles up and brought him to the living room. I walked in the room and noticed that her sheet was soaked and it smelled like urine.  She had a bed wetting issue, so that was not too weird. However, she would want to be woken up to clean it up.  She was embarrassed by it.

I spoke softly in her ear to wake her up and there was no response. I shook her shoulder and there was no response. I lifted her arm thinking she was teasing me, her arm was cold.  Much colder than a fan could make skin feel in 90 degree temperature with high humidity.

I knew something was wrong.

I yelled her name, becoming panicked. I began to swear at her, as I furiously looked for a phone number to my stepdad’s sister’s phone number (no cell phones back then). I could not find the address book.

I ran to my neighbor, who was a nurse. Begged her to come over and check on my mom.  She put on her robe and ran over. She checked my mom’s pulse and told me that there could be a chance she was ok. I knew it was a lie, but I wanted to believe. I called the police.

That was it, that was the events of her death.  She had a brain aneurysm. It was quick-ish. She had suffered from years of headaches, dizziness and mood swings. She was bi-polar but in the 80’s this was not a diagnosis.  It was most likely due to the pressure in her head from the aneurysm, but no one knows for sure.

The real unfortunate part of her death is that on the same day she died, she got a job as a chef. She worked hard all her life as a cleaning woman, but her passion was in cooking.  Without a high school degree, most places would not hire her.

She did the best she could with the cards that were dealt to her. I want to share with you, a little of her story.

Her mom was a bit on the crazy side (like I mean bat a$$ crazy). She made my mom stay in a high chair until she was 8 years old. LaVirgin, was her name. She would yell and scream and beat the children (my mom and her brother). However, my mom’s father, Rollin Sr., always kept her from going too far. When he died, my mom was just 12 years old. And things changed drastically in the household.

LaVirgin got remarried to a new man.  This man was violent and would beat the kids and LaVirgin. One night LaVirgin fell down the stairs and had what was thought to be a concussion, later it turned out to be a brain aneurysm. Little was known about them in the 50’s. LaVirgin could not recall who anyone was, not even her own children. She was blind as well.  My mom’s new stepfather did not want anything to do with the whole situation and refused to take care of the woman.  So, my mom at age 16 dropped out of school and became the caretaker. She forced her little brother to stay in school.

My mother never stated this, but her brother (my uncle) did tell me that their stepfather raped her throughout this time.

My mother met a guy and became pregnant.  She was forced to marry him due to her “condition.” She miscarried the baby soon afterwards.  Her husband was an alcoholic and abusive. He would beat her and force himself on her (back then you could not get convicted of rape, especially if it was your own wife). She had three children with this vial man. One boy and two girls.

She finally got the courage to leave this man and she took her children.  She had to work two jobs and hire babysitters to help take care of the children while she was a way.  Usually the babysitter was her friend Dick, but sometimes it was her brother.

Then she met my father.  A charming, tall, Italian man.  He had the most infectious smile (you all know what I mean by that). He knocked her right off her feet. She fell hard for him.  He moved in with her fairly quickly and began to take care of the kids. Little did she know that he was harming them. She would get home after working a double shift and little John (name changed to protect him) would have new bruises. The girls would also have bruises.

One night a fire was started in the apartment that the children were in.  A space heater with a little green soldier inside had caught on fire. My father, acting like a hero, saved all the children.  Rumor has it though (even my mom thought years later), that he started that fire to make himself the hero.  This is when social services became concerned.

Back in the 70s, it was unusual to have an unrelated man babysit children. Social services started to question the bruises and the fire and began to do check ups. Being that my mom worked two jobs, they would inevitably come when my father was babysitting.  They classified her as an unfit parent and took the children away.

In 1977, after a short while, my father, being the cunning a-hole that he was, received my mother’s mail.  There was a letter that asked for my mother to sign her parental rights away for her three children. My father was a jealous type and did not want to share in her affections, so he forged her signature on the papers and sent them into the courts.

My mother never knew, but my father’s mother did.

My grandmother watched as he did it.  Later on, she told me that this happened.  My grandmother thought it was for the betterment of my mother, that she deserved this for getting involved with her son.

Because, my father did this, social services stopped contacting my mother.  My mom would try to contact them to see the children, but wasn’t allowed to.  She did not understand why and no one ever explained it to her.

As time went on, the families that took the children wanted to adopt them.  My mother was out of state. She was trying to get a stable job in the casinos in Las Vegas, so that she could get her children back. She was also out in Vegas, trying to help her younger brother get out of debt and trouble.

Mom in Vegas

She left a forwarding number for social services to contact her, but she did not expect the type of phone call that occurred. Social services called her to tell her that the children were up for adoption, that the courts wanted to finalize everything. She had no clue how this could happen.  My father said nothing, of course.  Neither did my grandmother.

She and the rest of the group that went out of state, tried to drive back in time for the court date.  Sadly, the car broke down and she was delayed. When she got back to Wisconsin, it was already too late. She missed it.  She cried many nights, she would dream about her babies and want to so desperately be there for them.  She loved them so much.

However, she was given a second chance when she found out she was pregnant with me. She thought God was blessing her again.  She was in a happy marriage, had friends around and was super excited.

However, once my father found out, he changed. He began to hit her and refused to help her out with the whole pregnancy. She was expected to walk 8 miles, no matter the weather, to get groceries. She had to still work two jobs, while in her final term. While my father did nothing but leach off her and take all the money.

me as a babe

Once I was born, he became severely violent.  He would throw her down stairs.  Calling her names and leaving massive bruises on her arms and legs.  He would force her to sleep with other men. Who also beat her, one of them actually punched out four of her teeth.

Finally, after all of this, one night as I was standing in the doorway (all of 4 years old), she bunched up her left hand and upper cutter him in the jaw.  He whimpered and left with a broken jaw and a hurt ego.  He no longer had any power over her. Even at four years old, I was proud of her. I knew a lot of what was going on, I would witness some of it and other times I could hear. Do not be fooled parents, kids can hear everything.

Well, she got a divorce from him and a restraining order. And he seemed to follow the rules.  At least from a distance. He would call and threaten to kidnap me all the time. My mom would get incredibly scared and would stay with me even while I was in classes at school. Eventually, my father got remarried and left my mom alone.  The only time he came around was when he needed money or wanted to take me for lunch and show me off to his friends.

stepdad

Then my mom met Bob, my stepdad.  He was a playful and happy man.  He would take her out on dates and just treated her with so much respect. His mother really liked her and me.  I remember her calling my mom her daughter and me her grandchild.  There were family dinners and so many happy memories.  My mom was happy and for the first time in her life safe. Yeah, we didn’t have a lot of money and my mom didn’t have a glamorous job, but it was a happy little life we had.

My mom started showing the symptoms of bi-polar when I hit 2nd grade. I remember her slapping me and being seething angry one moment and apologizing the next. She would have bouts of depression so bad, that she couldn’t get up in the morning. She also got horrendous headaches and would vomit. I started skipping school to take care of her during these times.

Little was known about the disorder or why she was having the headaches, she was diagnosed with migraines.

In 1990, my mom was going to the doctors a lot. Various ones. I did not really know what was going on.  Later, I found out she was getting X-rays and what have you.

That same year, My stepfather proposed to her.  They were to get married in October of that year. Also, she got her GED finally and an associate in food preparation. She was so proud and everyone who knew her was proud of her.

graduation

Everything was coming together for her. Things couldn’t have been better. Sadly, it was all for naught and she died on July 5th 1990 unexpectedly.

She was a wonderful woman, caring and loving. Sure she had her bad days,  it wasn’t her fault that she was an untreated bi-polar person.

Her life wasn’t easy, but she showed strength and a will to survive.  She passed those qualities on to me and I live with knowing that I come from a woman that over came so many obstacles.  I loved her so much and will always love her.

mom and me

 

 

 

Blast Pistol: Attack on Malproksima Colony!

Nordic Weasel Games has come out with another set of rules.  These are their “living” game systems, which I won’t try to explain.  What I like about it is that instead of an army builder (which is great, in general) this game has set (though expanding) army lists with names and a bit of flavor text and, generally speaking, context.  I like that context.  It makes it feel like these unit choices matter.  It also describes the universe in a “show, don’t tell” kind of way.  As for the rules themselves, they don’t try to be exceptionally clever, but they are good and, so far, fun.

There are a few different flavors of this rules system.  “Last Era” is the fantasy version.  “Blast Pistol” is the sci-fi version.  That’s the one I’m playing below.  There are a couple other version as well.

I don’t think I mention it in the comic, but Prospectors can score bonus points by finding “resources” in terrain features, not that I found any.

Anyway, to the action!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attributions – Don’t claim other people’s information as your own

So I think this is a dangerous video to post, because its sure to get people pouring through my content trying to call me out on being hypocritical.  For that reason, I’m going to immediately post my apology to anyone whose idea I hear, then forget, then think I came up with it on my own!  Send me a message, I’ll post it with an apology!

Now that that is out of the way, I’ll describe a bit of what prompted me to post this video.  Anna is trying to avoid fried food and I was craving chicken wings.  So because I generally cook dinner, I decided to make this dish I had seen over on Food Wishes.  But I don’t normally just make someone’s recipe, I look at a few and take the techniques in each and combine them.  So I was looking at a few videos and then came across Laura in the Kitchen’s similar recipe for crispy baked chicken wings.

Now they both use a similar technique, which is coating with baking powder (pro tip, make sure its aluminum free or it can come across metallic, I learned from personal experience) to make the wings crispy, but what was different, was that Laura called the technique her”secret” and Chef John said he got it from America’s Test Kitchen.  Now Anna and I have a subscription to America’s Test Kitchen and know the technique from there and have used it for years.  In the video, I say that I realize Laura could have honestly invented this technique, but I really feel like she may have claimed the same technique from the same source, she just chose not to share.

I don’t like it, it feels dishonest to me, and it makes me wonder when I watch someone’s video, whether I’m just really watching someone else’s videos being regurgitated.  In some cases, I’ve found the original person and stopped watching the “copycat”.  Now if you’re honest, say where you got something from, and still add onto it, I feel like I can trust the information, and usually feel like I’m seeing both a filtered translation of someone else’ idea but also seeing “additional” information.

Anyways, I go through it on the video so no need to elaborate much more, but I’ll just end like I do the video, be honest people, it makes you “MORE” powerful, not less!

 

In the video, I talked about some YouTubers, here are links to them if you want to check them out

Chef John (Food Wishes)
Akis Kitchen
Laura’s Kitchen

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