Monthly Archives: January 2019

Emerald Specter 111: Are You Ready For Some Football?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you don’t really follow anything except college sports, then you can’t possibly know that we are about to be inundated with American football… like, a lot of it.

The undisputed king of professional American Football is the NFL. They have 32 teams, 16 games per team per season, a well watched playoff system, and the most watched sporting event annually (i.e. the Super Bowl). Fans are so diehard for the NFL that they also watch the annual NFL Draft (where new players are selected from the college ranks), the NFL Scouting Combine (where said college players show off their skills), and even the NFL Schedule Announcement (where they literally just tell us the upcoming schedule for the year).

I also watch the NFL and am a fan of both the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks (I was originally just a Falcons fan but moving to the Pacific Northwest, I also joined the Seahawks fandom).

A lot of the fans who watch the NFL also follow college football (I do not follow second tier sports, and because the college players are all trying to get into the NFL, college football is by definition second tier), so there is already a monster sized addition to the already monster sized NFL.

But that isn’t the only football coming to us in the next few years.

Announced some time ago, the Alliance of American Football will begin playing games in February of this year and will provide hungry football lovers with a chance to watch more football. This is an eight team league that isn’t looking to compete with the NFL, simply add on to the existing structure and maybe, if at some point they want to, become some sort of farm league for the NFL.

I’ve already chosen the team I want to follow for the AAF, specifically the San Diego Fleet (for it’s Naval and nautical themes). I’m interested in seeing how the league does and whether or not it’s got the hutzpah to stay around for long enough to catch the attention of casual fans. The league will be running on CBS (I don’t know if this is mainstream CBS or an app).

But that isn’t even the only other league coming!

Way back in 2001, Vince McMahon launched the XFL as a “more extreme version of American football.” The concept was a decent one but the actual results were lackluster. Presentation was a little hokey, attendance at events dropped off as the season went on, and some of the rules were dangerous, to say the least. The league was built, ran, and folded in the span of two years and though word was out that there was an attempted revival in the mid-2000s, nothing popped up.

Why am I talking about the XFL? Because the XFL is reborn as a brand new league.

All previous eight teams were scrapped in favor of building something a little more stable. The XFL has a new website, they have some new goals, and Vince McMahon is only tangentially involved in the process. Though some of the hokey rules are still around, I think this version of the XFL has an actual shot at being something that lasts… except we already have the AAF.

Apparently Vince McMahon announced that the XFL would be reborn in this new fashion a while ago and I only recently heard about it. The AAF responded by making sure they would launch a full year before the XFL in order to directly compete with the XFL. Yes, both leagues will be running at the same time of the year.

Though all this wonderful football is coming at us hard and heavy, we are still probably going to see one of the two new leagues (AAF or XFL) fold in competition and the other might remain around to see if it’s possible to survive as a “Spring version of American football.” As long as they aren’t competing with the NFL, I think one of these leagues has a chance.

Competing with the NFL is the reason other leagues went out of business in the past.

I’m excited to see what is possible with these new leagues, and I’ll be watching them both for at least one season. The AAF seems to be more aligned with working with the NFL while the XFL just doesn’t want to prevent anyone from going wherever they want (due to contracting only yearly and allowing players to join any league they want).

Time will tell.

Emerald Specter 110: Reprogramming the Eating Machine

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m fat.

Don’t say “oh you’re not” or “you can’t be” or whatever. I’m fat. I feel fat, I look fat (to me if to no-one else), and I want to make that stop being a thing.

I have done it before, and I can do it again.

Back when I lived in North Dakota, I decided to stop being fat one day and my wife joined my quest to get healthier. We were walking, being more active in general, and we were eating way better than we had been. If you look at some of the archives of this website, you’ll even find examples of how good I was feeling about the whole process.

Then I moved to Portland, Oregon and things just seemed to fall apart.

Portland is not at fault, mind you. I am. I went from being a rural mail carrier to a supervisor, which added a level of stress that saw my weight balloon up and my eating habits that I’ve developed so carefully to melt away. Walking also almost completely stopped, and if you’ve read my last column, walking has become a problem for me now.

In North Dakota I lost 91 pounds. In Portland, over the course of the last three years, I’ve gained just shy of 100. That is not a thing that makes me very happy.

This time I am going to have to do most of the work through food and that means I need to reprogram the eating machine that is me. Since I have impulse control issues, portion control issues, and a nasty habit of searching for sweets all the time, this is going to be interesting to see.

I’ve already started the process with my attempts to make better choices.

Starting with breakfast, I’m trying to eat less sugary things. I had ordered a bag of dehydrated marshmallows because I saw Lucky Charm Frosted Flakes at the grocery store one day. While I do have a couple of bowls of marshmallows left, I am thinking that they don’t get to be part of this new process and will get to be thrown in the trash.

Instead of cereals, though I will have a few now and then, I’ve started leaning more towards what my wife and I call “Jarmelettes.” We put diced peppers, diced ham (or sausage), some shredded cheese, and between 2 and 3 eggs into a short wide mouthed jar and microwave them (I’ve talked about this in a previous post). I have also started having toast now and then and I’m hoping my breakfast woes are all but a memory.

Moving on to lunches and suppers, I am still in a rut with my wife where we end up having pizza rolls, Tombstone pepperoni pizzas (my guilty pleasure), or eating fast (junk) food a lot instead of making food at home. I am not a big fan of the fast food and as long as we’re going out I am trying to steer her more towards sitting down (where the possibility of eating better options is an option) rather than just default to easy. Now that Christmas is over, this should be achievable.

I need to get back to eating more salads. I need to eat more balanced meals. My lunches are already mostly made at home but I want to get suppers to the point where we were at before we moved: preplanned and sometimes even preprepped.

This cannot be achieved alone.

Without going completely on healthy eating, I do need to move more than I do. I cannot go for the multiples of miles walks I used to because my hip just won’t have it. Simply getting up and moving around more often should be helpful and I am determined to start doing some Tai Chi in order to ease some of the ailments I’m currently suffering.

It works for old people, why can’t it work for me, too?

Sorry this column isn’t as meaty as the last one, I just need to get things out there in the aether to start moving in the right directions.

SpecterChess 1: The Games

Game 1 and Game 2

A change has been made to eliminate the fake names because I have no means of posting game viewers on my website at present. There will be other changes in the future to things but let’s just start off with this as what you need to see.

Emerald Specter 109: Back to the Bullet Journal

What a strange and unexpected twist of fate that has befallen me in the prior 2018. After having a great push with BuJoRPG, BuJourneyRPG, bullet journaling in general, and getting things all moving in the right direction, I fall off the wagon in 2018… hard. Almost no journaling was done.

I need to fix that.

Without jumping directly into the meat of the story, let’s have ourselves a segue. Let’s talk a little about life.

In 2018, I had a really good year at work… until I didn’t. Recovered from a sprained left foot, I was starting to really get into the swing of the route I would have been perfectly happy retiring from (a walking route) and then something strange happened: migraines.

There was a four day span of time where I had a migraine so bad (nearly constant through the four days) that I couldn’t do anything productive. The fourth day sent me to the hospital where I received an injection of the prescription I now have in case these return again. My migraine went away within 15 minutes and hasn’t come back on since that bad. The cause? Brain swelling. I’m a little concerned that the doctors didn’t seem more concerned at brain swelling but I can’t complain since the migraine hasn’t been crippling since…

Until yesterday, that is. I’d already taken other medicine and couldn’t take the prescription but things finally cleared up with a hefty amount of water and some foot (in a darkened room). Headache tangent over.

After my four day migraine incident, I started having problems getting through my route. My hip was really starting to hurt by day’s end and there was an accompanying shooting pain going down my leg that also wasn’t helping matters any. Prognosis? My hip bones are degenerating and I have bursitis… I probably also have a sciatica issue (the shooting pains), but that isn’t diagnosed.

So much for walking my happy 15 miles per day.

The hunt then began for a route that I could do that is a driving one. We call those “mounted” in the post office and I seriously started looking for one because I didn’t want to stop working or switch to a new career path again. My 15 mile a day route was in the second closest office to where I live and I happened across a route that was THE closest to where I live… and got the route.

This office is the smallest in the city and that usually means retirement type routes, older carriers, and people who just want to sail their way out the post office on the easier side of life. While this wasn’t what I discovered is the case, there was a route that I happened into that has given me a new lease on working.

I am pretty sure that I’ll be retiring off this new route.

Starting a new route always has some growing pains and since I won the route bid basically right before the Christmas season, I was going to have harder pains than I normally would… which is fine, because I’m now out of the season and I’ve got a strong handle on the route.

I say all that to say that work has been a load of ups and downs that I’m finally settling into a pattern again.

On the journaling side of things, the old office I worked in had us working in excess of 12 hours on a regular basis from January until just into May of 2018. That left me almost no time for journaling, of which I started a brand new one for 2018 with a Doctor Who theme… Journaling just wasn’t happening.

With this non-stop workload, I also had almost no time for BuJoRPG or BuJourneyRPG development, though I did release a cleaner looking “book” for the rules of BuJoRPG version 1. I was well into doing the same for the inaugural BuJourneyRPG when I hit a snag and wasn’t able to progress much.

I discovered digital bullet journals and made my own custom journal with the intent of heading into 2019 journaling. The digital journal will be something I develop for sale with the release of BuJourneyRPG (as well as some digital BuJoRPG journals), with the game built right into the journal. This doesn’t mean all the calculations will be done for you, but it does mean that you won’t have to worry about finding the rules (as they’ll be baked into the journal).

Once I had the digital journal set up (bare bones for me), I moved to starting something else that will benefit all the BuJoRPG fans out there: learning Swift.

Swift is the programming language for iOS to allow me to make apps for the iPhone and iPad. Since I’m obviously pointing towards creating the BuJoRPG into an app, this will be something that benefits the entire community and allow me to update things in the app (as well as making some of the calculations happen more automatically rather than everything being manual).

Yeah, that kind of defeats the idea of bullet journaling, but I’m keeping the heart of the actual journaling manual while making the gamified portions easier.

That leads me into the meat of this column…

I know what you’re thinking… damn, this column is already getting long. Well, keep on reading because now I’m going to start talking about what you came here for: BuJoRPG.

Earlier this week I posted a poll about how you’d like to get your BuJoRPG Dev Blog. While one option is video and would technically be a vlog, I’m not playing semantics and just allowing you to choose how you want your Dev updates.

The blog would contain pictures when applicable but be a lot of description about what is being worked on. While the video would obviously also be visual, the idea here would be to have my personal digital journal on screen with information while I’m explaining what is being worked on and how I arrived at the decisions I did. I’d also be talking over this and I gave this as an option because I think it would be popular and draw in more fans due to YouTubers looking for bullet journal stuff.

Honestly, though, I posted the poll because I don’t know what would be more popular.

On my end of things, I’m not on Facebook in 2019. I just decided I didn’t need that kind of negativity in my life and I’m going to move into the new year without worrying or arguing about what others think and do. This will give me untold free time as I won’t be mindlessly scrolling a news feed and can work on RPG stuff instead.

Back on track, I want to also note that there is a “branding” conversation that I’ve had with myself and I want to explain things before I continue because I’m getting tired of referring to multiple items in a single sentence.

BuJoRPG (version 1) has been the base version and when I use that term, I’ve really been referring to just version 1 in that sense. BuJourneyRPG is technically BuJoRPG version 2, which is why I altered the name slightly so I didn’t have to constantly say “version 1 or version 2.” BuJourneyRPG will always be BuJoRPG 2.

What I’m going to be doing about talking about things is no longer referring to them by their separate names every time. If I use BuJoRPG, I’m going to mean either version 1 or BuJourneyRPG unless I’m specifically calling out one or the other. I am also doing this in the event that I start working on a BuJoRPG version 3, meaning I don’t want to be talking about three things by typing BuJoRPG v1, BuJourneyRPG, and BuJoRPG 3. See? That’s a lot of typing and now that I’ve stated that, let me move on.

The purpose of V2 was to expand what I’d already created in V1 so that you could have something interesting to do in order to “level up” when you weren’t working directly on your self improvement. I was thinking more of the “stuck at a relative’s house for a holiday and can’t self improve” type of situation but I quickly let V2 go nuts into more detail than that… almost allowing you to skip self improvement all together.

That isn’t the point of V2. You still need to be working on improving yourself as the base and that’s the reason I started involving my wife into the development of BuJourneyRPG.

I’m going to save all the technical talk for the Dev Blog, which I originally planned to release on January 1, 2019 but wanted to know what was a better option for those out there: reading or viewing. When I get a decent sample size (more than 10, ideally about 100 but I’ll settle for a small outcome), then I’ll start putting out content in that manner.

Since I’ve already gotten a fair ways into V2, I am bringing at least the basics with me into development with my wife on board. This will give us a launching platform to start working towards what I think will be my best BuJoRPG yet (with only one other version, that shouldn’t be hard).

I’ve got a new iPad Pro for 2019, with pencil, and I’ll be working on some art for this project as we go. My art is not as awesome as I would like to believe but if I don’t start migrating from using other people’s art, I won’t be able to sell things that I own because I won’t own all of it wholesale.

In 2019 I will make progress with BuJoRPG. I want to be able to have at least a beta release of BuJourneyRPG by the summer, otherwise have a full and completely working version out by December at the latest. Since I’m journaling, I can schedule time for this and keep track of my progress.

Though I’m not going to be committing to anything at this point, I’ll be jotting down some thoughts and ideas for a BuJoRPG 3 possibility while developing 2. Just some concepts or directions I’d like to go in, nothing as far as putting those concepts into practice for the time being.

If I’m going to think of myself as a company (with BuJoRPG as my product), then I have to start thinking of doing things like a company (like being knee deep of a version or two in the future than is actually out in the world).

Answer the poll and let’s get 2019 started going in the right direction!