Archive for category: General

Turkey Day 2018

22 Nov
November 22, 2018

This is the first Thanksgiving for The Fiancée and me. We’ve got both clans invading the house – I mean, joining us for dinner.

For those of you who wish to participate in Black Friday festivities, I recommend perusing The Wirecutter’s Black Friday page.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and successful Black Friday.

Nothing Today

15 Nov
November 15, 2018

Friday Quote tomorrow.

The Dangers of Rescuing Big Cats

10 Sep
September 10, 2018

True life never fails to bring the big stories. In this installment, an exotic animal keeper in Oklahoma was arrested in a murder-for-hire plot. Although not identified by police, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, Carol Baskin, is saying she’s the target. On the Book of Face, Ms. Baskin sheds some light on why she was a target.

Maldonado ran, in our view, one of the most notorious cub petting roadside zoos in the country in Wynnewood, OK. Years ago he also operated a traveling exhibit that would bring cubs to malls throughout the Midwest and Southwest. When Big Cat Rescue educated the malls about the miserable life this created for the cubs and the malls started cancelling Maldonado’s traveling exhibit, Maldonado retaliated by renaming his traveling show “Big Cat Rescue Entertainment” in order to confuse the public into thinking the show was operated by Big Cat Rescue. In 2011 Big Cat Rescue sued for violations of its intellectual property rights and in 2013 was granted a consent judgment for over $1 million. Litigation to collect on the judgment has been ongoing since then in Oklahoma.

Yes, Big Cat Rescue gets some money from me in an annual contribution. I like the work they do, and I hate that they have to deal with shit like this.

If you’re coming to Tampa and have some time when they’re open, I recommend taking the tour. Or just check out theiy YouTube channel.

Talk Later

05 Sep
September 5, 2018

Busy with work and wedding stuff.

Why Damien Lewis Is a Great Actor

19 Jul
July 19, 2018

This clip is a few years old, but one of the best renditions of Marc Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar.”

This is why I hate reading Shakespeare’s plays, but I do love watching them.

Lawfare: Las Vegas Edition

18 Jul
July 18, 2018

Back in October, a homicidal maniac decided to rain down fire on a concert. Fifty-eight died and over five hundred injured.

Being the litigious society we are, victims sued MGM, which owns the Mandalay Bay hotel, for failing to take appropriate action to stop this homicidal maniac. MGM, not wanting to pay out what would probably end up being tens of millions of dollars decides to sue the victims right back. Except, instead of money, MGM is suing to invalidate any liability under a law passed in the wake of 9/11.

It’s all a cluster-fuck. Of course, the press is excoriating MGM. Just another episode of lawfare.

Toastmasters Conference AAR

23 May
May 23, 2018

Disclaimer – I am not currently a Tosstmasters member. This will most likely change before the end of this year. Many of these observations are from an outsider observing a major event for a specific group with its own lingo and speak.

So, how did I end up attending a conference? The Girlfriend is an officer in the district, and since we only see each other on the weekends at the moment, she asked if I’d be interested. Plus, I can always use advice on polishing my “stage” persona and writing.

Toastmasters, just like any organization, has its own lingo. Since this was a big conference for the organization, it’s to be expected that they would use their acronyms and phrases fast and furious. Sometimes I could pick up through context. Others I just needed to ask The Girlfriend.

The workshops were hit and miss (mostly miss), but I did pick up some ideas for improvement on my speaking. Most of my public speaking is providing training or performance reporting, so it was nice seeing other types of speeches.

The contests were entertaining, although one part was more entertaining for me than the conference. Toastmaster protocol is when a constestant is introduced it is “Contestant, Speech Title, pause, Speech Title, Contestant.” And every time they did that, I flashed back to Hot Fuzz and the clerk at the grocery store.

Overall, I enjoyed myself and will probably enjoy it more next year when I attend as a Toastmaster and not just as a guest.

Tab Clearing

17 May
May 17, 2018

I’m borrowing Tam’s title and clearing out articles that I meant to do full posts on.

Teaching Situational Awareness to Kids – Because I have two in my life, and I’d kinda like to keep them out of danger.

The Economist saying how wonderful universal health care is for all nations. This was one I wanted to fisk, but I’d recommend reading it to understand how the proponents think.

Syrian Metal Is War – Yeah, like I could scroll past that article.

[Finland ends its universal basic income experiment.( I like the concept of a basic income that replaces all other welfare programs. It just doesn’t seem viable in the real world.

Start-ups make an alternative for braces, and the dental groups rent seek. – I hate when businesses use the violence of government to keep others out of the market.

The Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent column on not supporting laws you wouldn’t kill someone to enforce. Honestly, that would be an interesting bit of mandatory language in any law that assesses a criminal or civil penalty. Make the legislators affirm that this is important enough to possibly kill someone over.

A surprising column from The Atlantic on cultural appropriation. I swear to FSM that I would laugh in the face of any person foolish enough to accuse me of that. Or denigrate.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably need to do this again.

Ten Albums

01 May
May 1, 2018

There’s a meme going around on the Boof of Faces to list the ten albums that had the biggest impact on your musical tastes. The concept demands a blog post, and I asked The Brother to do the same.


I’m not going to list these in any particular order other than as they come to mind. Some of these may surprise you, considering I run a regular feature called Metal Tuesday.

Derek's Album Collage

  1. Quiet Riot – Metal Health – This was my first non-kids album. It also started my path down to heavy metal. I’m sure my parents regretted giving it to me for a long time.
  2. Sabaton – Attero Dominatus – This was the album that really got me into Sabaton. Particularly, the song “Back In Control.” I remember sitting up and thinking Holy shit, he’s singing about the Falklands War. And I got hooked.
  3. Metallica – Master of Puppets – One of my three introductory albums into metal. This is the one that showed me the difference between hard rock and metal. It also introduced me to how fast metal could be played.
  4. Blind Guardian – Imaginations From the Other Side – So, for the better part of a decade, I didn’t explore metal as much as listen to what I already had. To those who know me IRL, it would be unsurprising to find out that this period coincided with the time I was involved with my ex-wife. Once she was out of my life, I asked The Brother for a collection of metal to get me back into the game. This was the album that brought me back into metal’s loving arms like a sledgehammer to the face.
  5. Garth Brooks – Ropin’ The Wind – This album brought me into country music. I like Garth’s early albums, particularly his way with storytelling in the lyrics. This album would bring me over to Chris LeDoux and several other master storytellers in the country genre.
  6. Classical Thunder – It might have been a cheesy collection sold on TV, but these reignited my interest in classical music. Which in turn, fed my interest in metal. Which brought me back to more classical music. Endless recursions.
  7. Manowar – Fighting the World – Second of my three introductory metal. This one brought me into power metal and the genre’s use of fantasy. Yes, I know Dio did it first. Manowar was my first exposure, and it hit at the right time of when I was playing fantasy RPGs with my best friends at the time.
  8. Seven Kingdoms – Seven Kingdoms – This album started me on the search for female-fronted metal. That led into Amaranthe, Delain, Epica, Dark Princess, Within Temptation, and of course, Nightwish.
  9. Iron Maiden – Powerslave – The last of my three introductory metal albums, and the first Iron Maiden album I listened to. Iron Maiden was the first band that fused storytelling and great metal music.
  10. Mortal Kombat the Album – This is not the soundtrack for the horrible movie, but rather a collection of techno songs for the main characters in the original game. This was something I found in a record store and picked it up. It’s on the list because it introduced me to techno. More importantly, it helped me discover how useful techno is to writing action scenes.

The Brother

My dear brother brought this idea to me and I agreed to it. I am trying to do this chronologically, but I am probably messing things up. These albums are also (usually) the ones that brought me into a genre, but are not necessarily my favorite albums in those genres.

The Brother's Covers

  1. Metallica – Master of Puppets – This is the first heavy metal album I remember hearing and started me on my love of heavy metal.
  2. Morbid Angel – Domination – The album that made me love death metal. I had heard other death metal before, but this is the album that made it click.
  3. Old Man’s Child – The Pagan Prosperity – Like Domination before it, this was my breakthrough into black metal.
  4. Chris Brooks – The Master Plan – I don’t know where this album came from, but it ignited a love of instrumental rock/metal.
  5. In Flames – Whoracle – This was my intro to what is now my favorite genre of music, melodic death metal.
  6. Disillusion – Back to Time of Splendor – This is my favorite album.
  7. Insomnium – in the Halls of Awaiting – The first album I heard of my favorite band (and yes, my favorite band did not make my favorite album).
  8. Clutch – Blast Tyrant – This brought me back to straight-up, kick-you-in-the-teeth, rock music.
  9. Saxon Shore – The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore – While I know this wasn’t my first post-rock album, this is the first one I remember really getting into.
  10. Allegaeon – Fragments of Form and Function – Finally, and most recently, the album that brought me into technical death metal.

A Year of Loss

30 Apr
April 30, 2018

A year ago, I decided to try and lose weight. Again. This wasn’t the first time that I’ve done a diet, only to fall off the wagon a few months later. Still, I was tired of having my clothes feeling tight, not being able to get anything from anyplace but a big and tall shop, and I was worried about my health. Penn Jillette stated on his podcast that he realized he was having to take so many drugs to compensate for the fact he was overweight. That hit home with me. I didn’t want to have all the health problems with my family history if I could help it.

Somehow – somehow – I have managed to keep the willpower to stay on track for a full year. Everything I’ve read led me to the most basic rule of weight loss – “Consume less calories than your body burns.” So, I fired up a calorie counting app I’d used before and started my budget. This time I followed some rules.

  1. Track everything. Even on days when I knew I was going over, I still put everything in my food log.

  2. Manage budget on a weekly basis. I strove to keep under every day, but my main goal was to be under my calorie budget for the week. If I knew I was going to have a party or a team lunch, I made sure to “save up” extra calories earlier in the week.

  3. Weigh myself once a week. – Before I’d weighed myself daily, but there’s too much fluctuation on a daily basis. It’s discouraging. Weekly weigh-ins gave me a better idea of how I was actually doing.

  4. Enlist help. – The Brother was nice enough to help me with this, which was a good thing because he’s the one I do my grocery shopping with. Having someone asking me if I really wanted that package of cookies or chips helped when I was sitting on the fence.

  5. Accept defeats. – There have been weeks when the scale went up instead of down. I needed to understand that those were tactical defeats, not strategic ones. Losing a battle does not lose the war.

  6. Have short and long term goals. – My first short term goal was just to hit 300 lbs. That took seven months to hit, but it was a lot easier to work to that then the 200 lbs. long term goal. I need both to keep my motivation up.

  7. Celebrate wins. – When I hit one of my short-term goals, I have a “bye” week. It’s a week I can eat as I want without worrying about calories. I still track everything I eat during those weeks.

  8. When in doubt, say no. – This was one of the harder lessons, as I love to eat. If I had a doubt whether I should eat something or not, I had to make my default setting as “no.”

  9. Understand that this is a way of life. – This lesson came much later from an episode of Squirrel Report. If I want to keep the weight off, I’m going to be counting calories for the rest of my life. Even when I hit my long term goal, I will still need to count calories.

So, how effective has this been for me?

Starting weight: 355 lbs. Current weight: 261 lbs.

Starting pant size: 56 Current pant size: 44