I’m Bad at Checklists

Sometimes I have high ambitions for myself and decide to do something other than play PUBG all night after getting home from work. At the start of this year I made myself a checklist of things I wanted to accomplish by the end of January. Most of those items were things I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2017 but this time I was serious!

I went on an amazing Iceland trip back in March 2017 with three friends and I have hundreds of pictures and videos of the trip I want to share. I used to blog semi-regularly about tech stuffs, personal stuffs, and game stuffs in order to get myself into a creator mindset and not just a consumer. And lastly I have been working on a Windows10 application to help tabletop GMs to keep digital homebrew files organized. I have over 2 gigabytes of files on my computer detailing homebrew adventures, monsters, and items in a loose folder structure that I’ve realized is almost unsearchable on its own, so I set out to create a program to help me find a cool piece of magical treasure on the fly.

And I really was serious, I wanted to do these tasks! And I did work on them…a little bit. But I didn’t finish by February. I still haven’t finished them all and now it’s well into April! I have uploaded the Iceland pictures, I have made progress on my HomebrewDB app but it isn’t ready for the release, and this will be my first blog post in over two years. I’d hardly call that close to completion. I’ve always enjoyed finishing goals so much that when I don’t I end up agonizing about what went wrong. Was it my planning? Was it my competence? Was the goal too unrealistic? Did I not train enough to summit that peak? Or maybe I didn’t bring the correct equipment? I should have bought those new shoes, then I would have made it!

The guilt and anxiety we take upon ourselves for failing is not healthy. So, one of the things that I like doing instead is taking a look back and see what I DID accomplish, outside of the original goals. Many times, there are things that were still great accomplishments, took a lot of work, or had a great pay off that I can still be proud of. These aren’t excuses for not completing the original goals(still gotta do those!) but rather to prove that I’m not incompetent(maybe the lesson to learn is I’m not the best at time management or what I’m passionate about working on instead of being incompetent). Sometimes the literal goal is what you need to accomplish(a task at work or cleaning the bathroom) but sometimes a goal just gets you moving towards action!

So here are some other things I am proud to have accomplished:

  • My sister and I decided to book a trip to Great Britain within 3 hours, planned the whole trip in less than a month, AND pulled it off effortlessly. It was a blast traveling with my sister and we had never been to Scotland and Wales before!
  • I’ve launched a new homebrew D&D campaign that I’m very proud of. I’ve done a bit of world building and crafted adventures before, but this is the first entire setting I’ve written myself with it’s own nations and factions. Play sessions are going good so far!
  • I’ve been running an AirBnB, successfully too I think! I’ve also found out that I don’t want to be running an AirBnB for much longer…it’s been a lot of effort and time for less payoff than I’m getting out of it.
  • I worked on a chrome extension that calculates some fun statistics based off players’ dice rolls inside Roll20.

Easter 2017

It has been over five years and I am again brought back to N.T. Wright’s thoughts on Easter each time we gather to celebrate.

Despite a thousand Easter hymns and a million Easter sermons, the resurrection narratives in the gospels never, ever say anything like, “Jesus is raised, therefore there is a life after death,” let alone, “Jesus is raised, therefore we shall go to heaven when we die.” Nor even, in a more authentic first-century Christian way, do they say, “Jesus is raised, therefore we shall be raised from the dead after the sleep of death.” No. Insofar as the event is interpreted, Easter has a very this-worldly, present-age meaning: Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world’s true Lord; Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun—and we, his followers, have a job to do! Jesus is raised, so we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven!

― N.T. WrightSurprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

How do we make His kingdom on earth as in heaven? By loving others. By caring for those in need. By campaigning for justice. By keeping your integrity. By taking care of the environment. By building hospitals and digging wells. By preaching, painting, singing, and sewing.

What we do with our lives in the now matters greatly because with them we are literally making earth more like heaven, or less like it.

ItemClicked event is not supported as an EventTriggerBehavior within ListItemTemplate

I’ve been working on writing some code samples for our Universal Windows Platform, they really are pretty neat how they enable a single app to run across Windows desktop, phone, Xbox One, and even HoloLens eventually. We’ll have the code sample released in the near future, but for now I wanted to blog about some small issues I’ve run into, couldn’t find any relevant documentation or stackoverflow answers, and I ended up figuring out the solutions on my own.
In this case, we were creating a listview and each item we wanted to be clickable to navigate to a detail page regarding that item. The listview control does have a selected item functionality built in, but we didn’t want to use that. A simple command to execute when one of the items is clicked is exactly what we wanted.
<DataTemplate x:Key="ListItemTemplate"> <interactivity:Interaction.Behaviors>
  <core:EventTriggerBehavior EventName="ItemClick">
    <core:InvokeCommandAction
      Command="{Binding DataContext.FooCommand, ElementName=LayoutRoot}"
      CommandParameter="{Binding}" />
    </core:EventTriggerBehavior>
  </interactivity:Interaction.Behaviors>
</DataTemplate>

<ListView ItemsSource="{Binding TheItems}"
  IsItemClickEnabled="True" SelectionMode="None"
  ItemTemplate="{StaticResource ListItemTemplate}" />
 Seems like this will get the job done, but compiler kept throwing us this very helpful error.
Cannot add instance of type 'Microsoft.Xaml.Interactions.Core.EventTriggerBehavior' to a collection of type 'Microsoft.Xaml.Interactivity.BehaviorCollection'. [Line: 27 Position: 95]
Cannot add instance of type 'Microsoft.Xaml.Interactions.Core.InvokeCommandAction' to a collection of type 'Microsoft.Xaml.Interactivity.BehaviorCollection'. [Line: 29 Position: 99]
Cannot add instance of type 'Microsoft.Xaml.Interactions.Core.EventTriggerBehavior' to a collection of type 'Microsoft.Xaml.Interactivity.BehaviorCollection'. [Line: 28 Position: 95]

Well, after a bit of digging I found out that a data template does not support an event trigger behavior for the event name as ItemClick. The ItemClick event is actually specific to the ListView xaml control, which is why the compiler complains that it cannot be added to the BehaviorCollection, so in our event trigger behavior we had to use a different event entirely. The Tapped event is the event we want, it is a high level event to cover both touch and mouse interactions.

<DataTemplate x:Key="ListItemTemplate">
   <interactivity:Interaction.Behaviors>
      <core:EventTriggerBehavior EventName="Tapped">
         <core:InvokeCommandAction
            Command="{Binding DataContext.FooCommand, ElementName=LayoutRoot}"
            CommandParameter="{Binding}" />
      </core:EventTriggerBehavior>
   </interactivity:Interaction.Behaviors>
</DataTemplate>

<ListView ItemsSource="{Binding TheItems}
  IsItemClickEnabled="True" SelectionMode="None"
  ItemTemplate="{StaticResource ListItemTemplate}" />
 There we go. Now, when a user clicks, or touches, one of the items shown in the ListView, the proper trigger is fired.  Hope this helps!

Staying Fresh When Behind

Dota Match 1246203674

I’m still not exactly sure how we end up winning this game, sheer willpower?  The opposing team had a better team composition, more carries(also better ones in my opinion), they were ahead of us by over 5k xp multiple times within 30 minutes, and we had a player(Slardar) that seemed to be feeding on purpose.  The only thing we had going for us was their Lion kept taking all their kills, hard to believe when they have a Sniper and Riki.  Within the first 10 minutes my lane partner was calling it game over, and I honestly thought he was right.  We couldn’t get much farm and they were killing us if we stepped past our towers.  But like any competition, you need a clear and optimistic mind if you ever hope to win.  Giving up is the last thing you want to even think about.  So we kept playing.  We held our own at our high ground and they couldn’t seem to break it.

So remember, it doesn’t matter what comes, fresh goes better in life!

Playing with Noobs

Lately I have not been playing many single player games at all.  I have a few I would like to play through, but I’m currently immersed in multiplayer team games.  The biggest taker of my time is Dota2 followed by Destiny and now that Smash Bros is out I’ll probably be learning the newer ropes for that too.  Multiplayer games have this innate ability to be easy fun compared to a single player campaign simply because you are playing with other people; friends or not, the game is infinitely more interesting because you are interacting with actual people and can be more fun.  Can being the keyword there, because when your game revolves around other players it no longer goes the way you want it to.  Just like in a team sport, if someone fails to preform their role then you can fail as a result even if you do yours well.  This happens more often than I’d like, or maybe that is confirmation bias, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it can frustrate the hell out of me.

The other day a few buddies and I were playing a game of Dota2 with a player on our team that was almost certainly brand new to the game.  This sniper didn’t buy any of the suggested items, instead he only bought items which improved his agility statistic(which does make some sense as agility is the hero’s primary stat).  We tried suggesting better items to buy/use, but he kept buying agility items.  As a result, he died a lot in the early game, “feeding” the other team gold and exp, making the rest of the game a very one sided experience.  My friends and I didn’t blame or yell at the sniper player over our voice chat but we all knew who cost us the game, or at least a good game.  In the words of my friend Jon, “Why are playing with a first timer?  Why is this possible?”.

Earlier this week I was going through the Vault of Glass raid on Destiny with 5 other coworkers.  A raid is a type of mission that is usually much larger in scale and requires a team of players to work together to conquer obstacles, enemies, and puzzles to finish it.  You need above average teamwork to accomplish this challenge, and it can take hours to complete.  I have gone through the raid a few times now but this time I believe we had more people on the fireteam that hadn’t finished it than those of us that had, and I was the most experienced player.  Throughout the raid I could feel frustration bubbling up when someone didn’t do their part, missed an oracle call out, or just died when they shouldn’t have.  Any fault in someone’s play usual result in a team wipe and we would have to start the section over again.  Our final time was 3 1/2 hours when it usually takes my more experienced group about 1 hour.  I couldn’t get mad though, I had joined this group of my own choice.  We were also talking and laughing throughout the entire thing, it was very fun even though it was taking a lot longer.  I stayed because every raider has their first raid when they were learning what to do, what not to do, etc.  I’m sure I was the same or worse when I first learned it all.

So why is playing with noobs so frustrating when it is an inevitable experience?  After all, you can’t truly ever have someone play their first team game without playing with actual teammates, it wouldn’t be a real first game.  When you play any game you feel competent at, you expect to at least do well enough to be satisfied with your performance.  But the shtick of any team game is you can’t do your best if someone else holds you back.  Just like how a team victory feels that much better when everyone is assisting each other, a team loss feels that much worse when you can’t do your job because someone isn’t doing theirs’.  It has happened, it is happening, and it will continue to happen.  I think too many noobs face people yelling at and insulting them so they keep their microphone and speakers off and therefore don’t learn from others who sometimes actually try to help them in game.  I’ve found the best response is to take a breathe, pop a mentos, and make the best of the game you can.  Talk to the noob, be friendly, and explain things you think he may be confused with.  It is surprising how quick they will start asking you more questions or be more eager to help out once they see you as an ally/teacher.

We Need More Spencer Mansions (The Jimquisition)

Resident Evil HD REMASTER is a remastered version of the remake of the original Resident Evil game released in 1996.  I didn’t know exactly what it was about Resident Evil, but it stuck in my brain as one-of-those-games since the first time I played it.  Years later, playing the REmake on the GameCube in 2002 I realized that it was the mansion atmosphere that made this game special.

The Spencer Mansion is almost a main character in its own right, adding an eerie unsettling stillness as you explore.  Throughout the game you become intimately familiar with its hallways, puzzles, tenants(alive or dead), sounds and music(or lack thereof), and back story.  But it doesn’t stay static, even after backtracking the mansion’s passageways, doors will break if you use them too much, zombies will come back to life, new enemies will burst out of doors you thought to be safe.  The design of this game is so well done that it will forever be the definition of Survival Horror for me.

Invisible Children to End in 2015

I had the pleasure of volunteering with this organization during highschool and throughout my college years, some served as campus president. From sleepouts, fundraising to rebuild Ugandan schools, throwing a few male beauty pageants, and even attending a congressional lobby in our nation’s capitol building, it was all exciting and life enriching. Invisible Children was created in 2004 to bring an end to a rebel army using children as soldiers, and over the last nine years that army has shrunk, fled from Uganda, and over two thousand abducted children have escaped to return home. I’m glad to see that Invisible Children hasn’t lost their desire for partnership with the organizations and people that have to live at the center of the conflict and will be handing off their resources and control to local groups that they have bonded with over the years. There is still a lot of work to be done rebuilding and rehabilitating, and with the good work these people do, it will continue to happen.

This interview with the CEO is honest and worth a read, organizations like this, ones that have the balls to carve out a change in this world are few and far to come by. But we live in an age that knows the most slaves, sex workers, and child soldiers than ever before, with the most serious atrocities going unnoticed or unreported. Invisible Children’s underlying goal was to correct the injustice in this world the best way they saw fit, I pray we all continue to do just that in our own lives.

“…cynicism is, in my humble opinion, a destructive force for progress in this world.”

Be loving, be smart, be wary, and be ambitious. But always have hope in what you seek to do, don’t fall victim to cynicism from within yourself or outside from others. Change the world.

//edit: Official word from Invisible Children

Custom Dungeon World Move: Identify

I’ve been playing a little bit of Dungeon World with some friends lately(the system is awesome, very streamlined for beginners, and I really love the influence the players have in telling the action/story).  One thing that I found odd, coming from D&D proper, was the lack of any kind of an Identify spell.  The creators replied to my tweet regarding how to figure out a magical item and pointed to Spout Lore(if it fits), Ritual, asking a another being for help, and trying it out to see what happens.  That last option honestly sounds awesome and very “Dungeon Worldy” to me, but I thought I’d try introducing a custom move in a future game to see how it goes.

The following move is based heavily on Whiskeyjack’s idea in this thread, which they actually use in Apocalypse World.  Since the two systems “run on the same engine”, and share the same creators, I thought it would fit into Dungeon World easily enough.

This is an advanced move, accessible starting at level 2, available under the Bard and Wizard classes.  The downside to picking this advanced move upon leveling up is that the player could just try to figure out the magical item on their own and take a more unique or useful move instead.

Identify

When you have some quiet time you can study an item you know to be magical to reveal some of what it does; roll +Int and ask a number of questions to the GM who will answer truthfully
On a 10+, choose two from the 7-9 list
On 7-9, choose one from the list

  • You discover the item’s command word. Tell the GM how this happened and he will tell you what the command word is.  If there is no command word, the GM says so as their answer.
  • As you study the item it imparts to you a hint of its use. The GM will give you a one or two word hint/description relating to it’s use.
  • You remember some historical fact relating to the item you’re inspecting. The GM will ask you two questions about the item’s origin.
  • You think that you have figured out a way to reveal the item’s secrets, but it is going to cost you. The GM will tell you the cost and you can decide if you think it is worth it.

To pair with this new player move, in an effort to make things interesting, I will also offer this GM move for use on a 6-, Activate the magical item.  Perhaps this isn’t always relevant, the magical properties could be passive, but if the weapon needs to be activated in some way, have some fun and activate it.  They wanted to find out what it does right?

 

In this example, the dagger’s magical power is it renders the wielder invisible only if they stab themselves with it.

Cory: Okay, since we’re making camp anyway I want to identify this dagger I found.

GM: Alright sure, roll+Int!

Cory: Okay.  Oh man a 4?  Argh, guess I’ll try some other time.

GM: Not so fast…You’re looking over this dagger, trying to extract some magical energy to clue you in on what it can do.  After about 20 minutes you get careless and it slips accidentally stabbing yourself for d4 damage!  However, upon stabbing your leg you turn invisible.

Cory: Whoa, cool!  And I only take d4-2 damage b/c of my armor.  This will come in handy…

My Thoughts on: Sexual Compatibility

Article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/sep/24/moral-case-for-sex-before-marriage

The idea of ‘sexual compatibility’ gets a lot more attention than it should be.  The article suggests that you can’t know/be sexually compatible if you don’t have sex beforehand and that sexual compatibility is necessary for a great marriage.  Yes, sex is an important part to a marriage, but are people seriously saying marriage isn’t the right choice if two aren’t “sexually compatible”?  What does that even mean?  I just can’t imagine getting close to someone to the point of “Wow I really love this person and I want to marry them, but are we sexually compatible?”  That just seems idiotic to me.

I’ve it heard this view from a lot of other people, “I have to make sure that the sex will work between us”.  If marriage is just a precursor to sex then this makes sense.  If what I’m concerned with is getting a good romping out of my wife then yes, I should be making sure the sex is to my liking first.  But I don’t think that is what most people go into a marriage for.  There is a lot more to marriage than a sexual relationship.  If you’re at the point in a relationship where you are looking to get married, but you think the sexual compatibility might change your mind….don’t get married.  You’re not ready to marry anybody.

How do you even determine sexual compatibility?  What is the criteria for compatibility?  How many attempts do you need to figure out if you’re “compatible”?   Do you even need to actually have sex to figure it out?  And why just sexual compatibility?  Are these people also buying homes together, getting pregnant and raising children before getting married as well?  If not….how will they know they are financially compatible?  Compatible in the home environment?  Compatible as parents?  How will they know if they will still be a compatible couple during retirement?

Can’t these things can be determined through conversation and other indicators you get from knowing a person?  99% of any kind of compatibility is understanding each other’s desires, limits, and each person’s willingness to work together.  And if you can’t even talk about those things on a level deep enough to figure it out, how is actually doing them going to be more comfortable and a better indicator of compatibility?

Now, there are some GREAT points this article makes.

  1. Sex is good
  2. Sex is fun
  3. People like sex
  4. Sex isn’t a bad thing

I’m not going to stand on a soapbox here and proclaim that if you have sex before marriage you will get herpes, or become cursed with a terrible sex life, or try to slut shame you.  If you really believe sex before marriage is a way to determine this notion of sexual compatibility you want in your marriage and you have carefully considered what sex is to you, fine.  Go do it and get it on.  But don’t try to preach how it is the correct way that everyone should follow.  The article seems to be primarily frustrated with how American culture views sexuality(valid), wants to challenge it(valid), but then claims that pre-marital sex is the way to do this(not valid, or at least she didn’t make any valid claims for it).

Maybe the issue here isn’t that you shouldn’t or should be having sex before marriage, its what are we teaching ourselves about sex and how is that impacting us?  Generally in America there isn’t a good sexual education experience, we don’t talk about it, or its all hush-hush naughty stuff and sexuality in America is suffering because of it.

We have people who wait to get married before having sex, don’t understand that sex isn’t some magical 100% perfect thing and have their marriage suffer because of it.  We have people who are tired of seeing that and decide to preach the good news that pre-marital sex is “the best choice for nearly everyone.”  And we have people that haven’t really thought about that much(or are too young to!) who hear both sides and aren’t sure what to think; worse if they only hear one side and blindly follow it without thinking about what it means for them!

Sex and sexual health are important parts of being a human and are usually extremely personal private matters.  We should be stressing this instead focusing on shame or pride for whatever side you happen to be on.

Perspective

I’ve seen this picture around the internets a few times, mostly reposts on /r/atheism, but after a friend sent it to me for a laugh, it struck me a little differently.god and universe

Haha, it’s funny because we are so small and God(if he exists) is so big, why is he bothering to tell us not to masturbate?  It is such a stupidly small thing to care about in the grand scheme of things.  Ipso facto, the idea of God is ridiculous because he must not really care about the important things in life.  Hahaha.  I get it.

But if you think about it another way, the straw man example created to poke fun can be used to show how deeply God cares about humanity.  Whatever you believe about masturbation isn’t the point here, replace that instruction with “don’t lie”.  It’s the same thing for the purpose of the image.  While God is so so so so so so so SO much bigger than us, our galaxy, and the observable universe, He takes time to instruct us tiny things how we can better our lives.  Tiny things that seem insignificant to us but can impact the way we live and interact with others.  He does this in addition to handling all the other “big time God stuff”.  He cares about our issues, big and small.

And it is strange to me that my friend is incapable of seeing this side of it.  Anyone who looks at this image and doesn’t really know the impact of what a loving God can have in their minute life really can’t see anything else.  Both perspectives start with the same precept, a God infinitely larger and complex than we are tells us how to conduct small parts of our lives.  Some people stop there and call it meaningless and stupid, while others look to see if there actually is some meaning behind it.