Comics | Secret Wars Thoughts

I’ve been hearing a lot about Marvel’s big event for this year – Secret Wars. It’s going to change the face of the Marvel universe forever! Again!

I guess I’m fine with it. There are so many years of history to sort out, that I suppose it’s a good thing to make a fresh start every so often. It’s not supposed to erase the previous years of history – all of that still happened, but a new unified timeline will come out of it. Some old characters will change or go away, and some new ones will find a more permanent home.

I really loved the Superior Spider-man run, and was in a way sorry to see Otto lose the job. He was a breath of fresh air as Spidey and did some great things with the character. To be able to have Peter Parker back in the driver’s seat and Otto as the Superior version co-existing? I’ll take that ride. I’m not so sure about Spider-Gwen and a few others, though. I hope there aren’t too many Spider-People running around.

There are a few new books that I’m really enjoying that I don’t want to get derailed by the event. Thor has been excellent, and they’re teasing us with who’s really behind that mask. Antman is off to a good start as a really likable book. I don’t like it when writers are forced to shoehorn an event into n existing story line they’ve got going, so we’ll have to see how those play out.

It should be fun, though, and I’m sure they’ll get a bump in sales from it. What happens after that only time will tell.

Podcasting!

A few weeks ago, I was a guest on the Hearthcore show with Rodney and Juice, and I’ve gotta say, it was a lot of fun. My day job allows me to sit at a desk for most of the day, and I can listen to pretty much anything I want, and for a few years now, the main bulk of that has been podcasts. They’re like radio stations where the hosts talk about exactly the kinds of things I’m interested in.

I’ve always thought about doing a show of my own, or trying to find one to be a co-host on. These are exactly the kinds of conversations I have all the time, and it would be a hoot to be able to have a larger audience. I could see myself doing a weekly WoW show. I have all of the equipment for it, and I’ll have the time, so I’ll see where this takes me in the next few months.

Red Rocker

I’m taking an involuntary break from school for a while, so in order to keep busy, I’m throwing myself into my music. For the last 30 years, I’ve been a bass player. In 1996, I sold all of my gear to focus on art, and went a great many years not playing. About ten years ago, I picked up an old Fender Precision from a pawn shop for $75 and began noodling with it again. When an opportunity to play in the church worship band cropped up, I got more serious, and bought myself a Steinberger five string, which has been my main instrument for a long time now. Among the things I sold in ’96 was a Rickenbacker 4001. I’ve always regretted parting with that and for years have been trying to find my way back to one.

A few months ago, I decided to take up guitar. I picked up a candy apple red Fender Stratocaster, and have been teaching myself chords from YouTube videos. It’s actually been going pretty good. I’m not doing any solos yet, but I can play rhythm for a pretty sizable number of songs. I’m still a bit awkward with it, but I expect in the next few months I’ll be good enough to embarrass myself in front of people. I’ve been pretty dedicated with my practice routine.

I had a horrible week with news that I wouldn’t be able to continue with school, and have been feeling pretty down. In a hugely generous effort, my son Kyle bought me a brand new ruby red Rickenbacker 4003 to cheer me up. Words cannot express how much I appreciate this kindness. I certainly don’t deserve it. I’m not such an awesome player that should have one of these based on skill. But it brings a great deal of joy to my daily existence. I grew up with this sound, and my heroes have always been artists and musicians, so to have an instrument like this is just a privilege and an honor, and I am grateful for the gesture Kyle has made. It doesn’t make me a better player, but it certainly makes me want to be one. If he wanted to cheer me up, this was way above and beyond the call!

I took it onstage at church this morning, so it was broken in before a crowd a few hours after I received it. My wife and I are working on our own music projects as a duo and I have great plans for the red instruments in the years to come.

Thanks Kyle!

Old School | Hitting a Rock in the Road

A while ago, I went back to school to work on a bachelor’s degree in web design and interactive media. I signed up at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division part time, as it was perfect for my schedule and would allow me to do classes on my own time while still working and maintaining a family life. For five years, I stuck with it doggedly, working my way through 37 classes and maintaining a GPA of 3.9. I’m just starting my 4th year classes, so I have about a year and a half left to go at my current pace. Things were great until last week, when it all came to a screeching halt.
I have hit the federal cap for financial aid. I knew the program was drastically overpriced, and I was going to be looking at a fortune in debt, but my financial councilors never told me there was a fixed limit of $57,500 per individual, and that I had exceeded it. They let it pass and started sending me bills. I probably would have seen it had I looked at the numbers more closely, but I wasn’t focusing on things like that.
In order to finish my degree, I needed $28k, which is a sizable dollar amount. I applied to Sallie Mae for a loan, but they declined me, saying I would need a cosigner for that amount. I had a bright spot when I found out I received and academic achievement scholarship, and the amount I now need to finish is only $11k. Quite a big difference! I reapplied to Sallie Mae, and they shot me down again. That’s where I currently am in the process.
So, now I’m hunting for any scholarships or grants I can find. Once I’m out of school, which is about ten days, I have six months before I have to start paying back my loans. For that time, I’ll be scouring the ‘net for funding. People keep telling me that there are lots of opportunities that are going unclaimed, and I only need to apply some effort to look for them. If too much time passes, I’m guessing I’ll lose my scholarship, and the amount I need will soar back to $28k.
I have to find a way to make this work. I can’t have come this far in the process for nothing. If there’s a way, I’ll find it, but I’m sure it won’t be an easy search.

Hearthstone – New Card Back

Got my Hallow’s End card back for the month of October. They really should put holiday themed art out the month before the even, not the one after. It’s not really that cool after the event is over. I hope they don’t do a Winter’s Veil theme in January.

World of Warcraft Solo Runs – Ulduar

I ran Ulduar on my warlock yesterday, and had success for the most part. I’ve never been there before, so the mechanics were all new to me. I started out on 25-man.

Flame Leviathan took some research to figure out. Outside of a vehicle, I wasn’t able to do much to him before he took me down, but after looking at some YouTube clips, I set a few Demolishers up and he went down very fast.

The rest of the fights were fairly easy until I got to Mimiron. All the individual pieces went down easy enough, but the combined unit was too hard for me to get all three segments down fast enough. I switched to 10-man and it was pretty easy.

Hodir also gave me a little trouble, so he was done in 10-man as well.  I though Freya was going to be impossible, but after a long while her health started dropping quickly and she went down.

Yogg Saron was something I haven’t figured out yet. The insanity mechanic takes me out in the brain room, so I’m not doing something quite right, and it will take me a few more attempts to get it.

Earlier in the week I beat Lich King on 10-man pretty easily.

 

3D Thursday #1

I used to do a good bit of art in Poser and DAZ Studio, but have fallen a bit out of practice lately. I still dabble once in a while, so I’ll share some of new work and some of my old work here. It’s a neat artform that I’ve had a lot of fun with.

I thought I’d kick this series off with one of my oldest pieces, which strangely turned out to be one of my better ones. The above image was a very early Poser figure imported into Bryce and rendered there.

World of Warcraft | Waiting for Warlords

I went back to World of Warcraft a few weeks ago, and I’ve been having a blast. I had un-subbed for a few months, and wandered into other games for a bit. I still play Hearthstone every week, as I really like being able to drop in for a quick game here and there (they really need to get the Android release out). I finally finished Diablo 3, although I don’t have the expansion. I tried Wildstar for two months, but got frustrated with how often I died, and just didn’t love my character the way I felt about my warlocks in WoW.

Warlords of Draenor comes out in a few weeks, and I’m looking forward to garrisons and another 10 levels in a new world.

The latest improvements are pretty cool.

My current transmog set

The Toy Box – all my cool little doodads in one tab, and it’s shared between all my characters? Thank you! I can also see all the ones I don’t have, and where to get them. This is a feature that should be in all the profession tabs, so we can see the holes in our collections.

Reagent Bank – deposit all your crafting materials into a large bank tab, but be able to craft from there anywhere you are. Craft mats also stack to 200 now, so this freed up a huge amount of bank space for me.

Organize bank and bags – one button sorts all the junk in your bags into orderly piles, and you can even mark a bag to hold specific things, such as equipment, consumables, and trade goods.

The Squish – all the numbers behind the scenes have been reworked, and we seem to have a jump in power, especially for old world raids. A lot of our spells and abilities have been combined, removed, or altered, so we have a lot fewer buttons to press. My spellbar actually has some blank spots now.

New Models – Most of the new characters look pretty amazing. My Undead warlock looks very cool now. I have a human female warlock, and I just can’t quite get the face I liked, though. Hoping they’ll upgrade the Blood Elves soon.

Cross-Faction Auction House – A lot more activity with more players having access. I like it.

I’ve been running a lot of old world raids solo, and having great fun. I was able to get through Black Wing Lair and Icecrown Citadel all by myself, which I couldn’t do before.

Old School – October 2014

An update on my progress toward my degree –

A few years ago, I started attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online to get a bachelor’s degree in Web Design and Interactive Media. I’m doing it part time, one class at a time, so it’s slow going, but I’ve been at it steady for a long time now. I’m finally in my 4th year classes, and I think I have about a year left to go. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and am really looking forward to hanging that diploma on my office wall.

I’ve really been moved toward the eLearning part of the program. In my past career, I had done a good bit of software training, teaching clients how to use Adobe Photoshop and After Effects in the sign business, so this seems like a natural fit for me. I picked up Adobe Captivate, and have been digging into that, and am very impressed by what it can do. The capabilities in Instructional Design are just tremendous compared to a decade ago. This would have saved my employer a fortune on travel and overtime expenses. It also allows someone to learn at their own pace, rather than forcing them to do a multiple-day marathon, which pushes them far beyond their saturation point. To be able to take a break, and come back for a little more the next day is really nice.

I’ve also done a good bit of Javascript and Jquery work. I’ve had a lot of fun working with that, and been very impressed by what I can do so easily with a few well-placed widgets. My coding skills have leapt forward by a long shot.

A few months ago, I had a portfolio class, and built an entire new site for myself. I’ve redone it several times since then, and will probably keep redoing it every few months. It contains links to a lot of my recent Instructional and Web design pieces, as well as a lot of my graphic art.

My current class, Advanced Communications, is very helpful. It mainly deals with how to speak and write in a professional environment, for interviews, reviews, etc.

So, that’s where I am in the effort to improve my education. See you at the top!

Back to Blogging

It’s been almost a year since I posted on here, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately, and have really wanted to get back into blogging. I keep a daily journal where I have a conversation with myself each morning and get all of the thoughts out of my head and into my virtual notebook, but they never get read by anyone else, so I have been sort of blogging for a while, but with no audience. The concept has been referred to as “daily pages” or “morning pages“. There’s a site called 750 Words, which is a modern way of doing the same thing, only it’s all stored in the cloud. I started doing it in a notebook with a pen years ago, but have since moved it online, using Google Docs. The premise is to take all the thoughts tumbling around in your head, and put them onto paper, which organizes them and clears your mind for new thoughts. Over the years, it’s made me realize a few things, make decisions, and talk myself into or out of something. It’s also very interesting to go back and read entries years later and see where my head was at
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This morning, I’ve written out six drafts so far to develop and publish over the next few days. I’ve been spending way too much time navel-gazing when I could be sharing and interacting with other people. Being introspective is great, but there is an an audience here, even if I’ve neglected them for a long time. I’m still journaling all the personal stuff on a daily basis, but my public thoughts will be here for a while.

This will also help me establish my online identity and build a persona, for networking purposes. I’ve really been digging into social media, and as a marketer, you just can’t ignore it. It’s everywhere, and it can really help you reach an audience if you embrace it. I’ve seen people who completely shy away from it and treat it as a bad thing, and that just confuses me, especially if it’s your business you’re talking about. It’s just the way the world connects now, and it’s a tool that can be used effectively or poorly. I still have a huge amount to learn, and have not been using it to its’ fullest potential, but I’m at least making an attempt. I hope to some day branch out into podcasting or video casts.

This blog deals with various things I’m into – my career in art, my journey as a web designer, my gaming, my music, and all the geeky stuff I’m into. I’ll try to keep it creative and fun.

Thanks for watching!