CastleRain

My Online Realm

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Too Soon?

Maybe I turned in my Gamer Card too soon ūü§Ē

While I would love to simply copy and paste all the info here.  That would be not very nice of me.  But check out the features here.

Ashes of Creation / Kickstarter

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Turning in my Gamer Card

Gamer CardI think it’s time to finally turn in my Gamer Card. ¬†I don’t think I can call myself a Gamer anymore. ¬†I’ve spent the last 2 years or so struggling to find a game I want to play. ¬†Quitting and starting new and old games. ¬†There is just no joy left in it for me. ¬†Especially since all my previous gamer friends have moved on as well.

It was such a blast to play games. ¬†At first it was fun to try new games. ¬†Then when I started to play games with friends and with my children, that’s when it became an absolute, mind blowing, time of my life experience. ¬†Playing Unreal Tournament and Carmageddon 2 against my family across the house. ¬†Sitting watching my kids play Grand Theft Auto for hours on end. ¬†Days and weeks spent with friends online fighting horrifically huge monsters go get the loot. ¬†The loot though paled in comparison to the hilarious adventures trying to overcome the challenges. ¬†Things most serious players never really like to do. ¬†For them it’s do it right the first try or rage quit. ¬†We, however, would spend countless hours dying and trying again and laughing it up.

I guess it’s time to move on though. ¬†I can’t really say, time to grow up. ¬†We are the Gamer generation. ¬†Playing games on a tablet or phone is nothing compared to gaming on a PC or console. ¬†I always thought I’d still be doing dungeons and raids while in retirement. ¬†But the games have changed, the friends are gone. ¬†I’ve gotten to know some amazing people along the way. ¬†Some who have overcome life threatening medical problems, doctors and even good old rednecks. ¬†Some of them from overseas. ¬†Memories I’ll cherish forever.

Without them, it’s a very boring lonely place. ¬†Even in a virtual world filled with other players to choose from. ¬†I can’t log on anymore without being bored within a few minutes. ¬†While I will never totally stop playing games, I won’t play them all that much anymore. ¬†I can’t be called a Gamer anymore either. ¬†Now I’m just a Geek. ¬†A proud Geek, but a Geek none-the-less.

As I’ve said before, I was Geek long before it was cool.

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Pretty Much Over I.T.

Bored TechYup, I’m pretty much over it. ¬†I.T. that is. ¬†I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now. ¬†I started doing it in the Navy. ¬†It was a blast at first. ¬†Helping people. ¬†Hearing “thank you” at the end of every conversation. ¬†Sadly people have grown unappreciative. ¬†They do the same things over and over and learn nothing. ¬†Today I took a call of, “My mailbox is full again. ¬†Please empty it. ¬†Thanks.”. ¬†Followed by the click of an ended call. ¬†They have asked me to do this every few weeks since February of 2009. ¬†They still start the call with, “I’m computer illiterate.”. ¬†Then why do you own a computer if you’ve learned nothing in 8 years?

The same people call with the same problems. ¬†“I don’t know why this keeps happening?”. ¬†We explain, they ignore. ¬†Wash, rinse, repeat. ¬†My friend deleted some programs, now their browser won’t open.

If it wasn’t for the fact I get medical and dental, I’d quit and go full time delivery driver. ¬†At least there all I have to deal with is cheap-asses who don’t tip. ¬†That job is hard to let go. ¬†Despite my clothes smelling like garlic butter when I come home. ¬†That washes out. ¬†My vehicle¬†may smell like it, but now I’m using disposable seat covers to help cut down on that. ¬†Plus I can get them steam cleaned. ¬†However, the money I make is too hard to pass up most weeks. ¬†I’ve looked for a job for over two years. ¬†I don’t look as often. ¬†There are next to no jobs I want that would start me at $12 an hour. ¬†I don’t want to be a tech anymore. ¬†Today’s lazy ass doesn’t appreciate us at all.

I don’t do computer repair anymore on a personal level, except of course my own computers. ¬†Which I can’t remember the last time I needed to do that outside of replacing a faulty part. ¬†Especially when people won’t bring me their computers so I can use my high speed internet to fix it. ¬†Not to mention, I can be in an environment I’m comfortable in. ¬†The last comment I got was, “there is a reason why i don’t come to ur house is ur trailer is small.”. ¬†Do you realize how insulting this is? ¬†My place plenty big enough with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. ¬†I tried to let that comment go. ¬†Didn’t work.

In retort,¬†I don’t want to drive to the boondocks, where there is limited internet to download large updates. ¬†Where I have deal with the¬†odor of¬†pot, cigarette smoke and empty beer cans. ¬†Sure you go outside to smoke while I’m there, but your home already is permeated with the smell. ¬†It’s gross. ¬†Let’s not forget, I work two jobs over 50 hours a week. ¬†I generally only get 1 full day off a week. ¬†I don’t want to do more tech support on what little time off I get. ¬†I’d rather go see my kids, or go out on a date.

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No Plow … Yet

2005 Chevy SilveradoSay hello to my truck.  I know I said I wanted a truck with a plow.  However, this was rather a necessary move.  My Sebring may not last long.

Not an actual picture of my truck —- >
(See below for actual photos)

I took that trip to Traverse City like I said I would. ¬†Hung out with my mom and we walked all over the downtown shopping centers. ¬†Sadly I didn’t find one pair of shoes, any shirts or hats that I was looking for. ¬†The trip was a bust and that shopping area is now reserved for hipsters, food connoisseurs and coffee snobs. ¬†While I love coffee, I’m happy with Starbucks.

After hitting the mall yet again, there just isn’t any shops I’m interested in there. ¬†I had much better luck when I was going to Saginaw. ¬†We stopped for lunch, and as we were leaving my car started doing the most peculiar thing. ¬†As we came to a stop light, the car felt like it just threw itself in park. ¬†It was a sudden lunge and stop action. ¬†We managed to move again, but the next stop the same thing happened. ¬†I thought it was a transmission problem. ¬†My mom felt perhaps it was a brake problem. ¬†Neither of us really knew. ¬†However we carefully drove back to Gaylord trying to avoid coming to a complete stop. ¬†When we did, the car would do the same thing. ¬†Strangely, once we got home, it stopped completely. ¬†It was like it actually was in park. ¬†I could rev the engine, and it wouldn’t move. ¬†If I shifted to reverse, it would move a few feet and “park” again.

The following Monday, I had it towed to a friend/mechanic. ¬†He tested the car’s electrical system. ¬†His suspicions were confirmed, something wasn’t sending the right signals from the computer controller in the transmission to the main computer in the car. ¬†The car deemed something was unsafe. ¬†Though no “Check Engine” light ever came on. ¬†He was able to clean up the harness connecting the two components, but trying to save me money as transmissions are BIG dollars to fix. ¬†His advice to me was “trade it in”. ¬†He said it with more flair that indicated “do it soon”.

I was never really happy with my Sebring. ¬†It was the only car I could afford that wasn’t a piece of junk. ¬†Most cars offered to me when my Lumina died were over priced rust bombs. ¬†I paid way too much for the car, and right from the start it had tires not made for driving in snow. ¬†The air conditioner was blocked with garbage and soaked the interior the first night I drove it for work. ¬†Shortly after, the dashboard lights started to die and only flickered when it was really cold outside. ¬†My radio would lose its programming. ¬†I sunk nearly $1200 in tires, new rear brakes and minor engine repairs. ¬†The list goes on. ¬†Also, who the hell designs a car where the battery is in the wheel well? ¬†[yes, that’s a video link] ¬†Seriously!?!?? ¬†Not a Chrysler fan. ¬†Between that and the insanely high interest rate from having bad credit¬†ūüėí

Anyway… ¬†I managed to find a very low mileage [less than 50k] truck at an affordable price. ¬†It’s not new, but it’s in good condition. ¬†A 2005 Chevy Silverado. ¬†Hopefully with God’s guidance, I made a good choice. ¬†Clean Carfax, one owner, all repairs documented; kind of find.

The topper will be for sale soon. ¬†I’m not a topper kind of fellow. ¬†When I can afford it, I’ll get a vinyl Tonneau Cover.

Little Red TruckDon’t get me wrong, I’m thankful to Simple Auto for helping me rebuild my credit enough to get out from under their Buy Here/Pay Here interest rates. ¬†I now have a regular loan via a Credit Union. ¬†Interest rate is better, though not great. ¬†I will never again let someone else handle my finances and ruin my credit.

For some reason, it just had to be red.  Immediately I wanted to recreate a favorite photograph.

Damn, I’m just becoming a good-ol’-boy aren’t I? ¬†Driving pickup trucks, shootin’ guns… ¬†Though I will never concede to country music and beer. ¬†EVER.

And NO! ¬†You can’t borrow it!

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I’ve Given Up

I've Given Up Soda PopOn Soda Pop that is. ¬†It’s taken me a very long time. ¬†Years in fact. ¬†I gave up marijuana decades ago. ¬†While still in High School. ¬†As I didn’t want to turn into my uncle who merely sat at home after work and smoked weed. ¬†That was easy to do.

Shortly before I joined the Navy, I was up to 250 and needed to lose 60 pounds. ¬†I managed to do it in a summer doing a stupid diet. ¬†I don’t recommend this. ¬†I rode a¬†Mountain Bike everywhere in Petoskey. ¬†From Brutus at first. ¬†Which is roughly 14 miles from Petoskey. ¬†(Well at least until I moved into Petoskey itself.) ¬†I worked at a Hardee’s. ¬†So I only had one meal a day. ¬†My free lunch. ¬†Outside of that, I spent all day biking. ¬†For energy I drank Pepsi. ¬†I wasn’t into coffee then. ¬†That was a bad, bad idea. ¬†While I did lose the weight, I got addicted to Pepsi.

During the Navy I got hooked on cigarette’s. ¬†Did that for nearly 15 years. ¬†Took forever to get off of them, now I find it easy to keep off of them as the smell is intensely gross to me. ¬†Turns my stomach just to be near a smoker or ashtray. ¬†However, during the Navy it was hard for me to keep the weight off. ¬†Desk job mainly while I was there. ¬†Smoked and was stuck at sea for months on end. ¬†Crap food. ¬†The crappier, the better it seemed. ¬†So junk food became a staple for me. ¬†After the Navy, my love of video games took over and I kept a desk job. ¬†Still have it. ¬†Just part time. ¬†So a desk job, Pepsi, junk food and video games. ¬†A recipe for how I became overweight.

It wasn’t until I got weighed at the doctor at 360 lbs. ¬†My marriage was on it’s way out and I said enough is enough. ¬†I had just quit smoking finally but the damage was done. ¬†More than I realized. ¬†I started walking around the outside of a local mall. ¬†Between that and changing my diet to lower my cholesterol, I lost 20 pounds. ¬†Then I moved and started walking around the Patrick Henry Mall outside and walking up to 3 miles a day at the least. ¬†More if I could take it. ¬†Sadly I only lost another 20 pounds. ¬†I still drank Pepsi regularly and it all caught up with me. ¬†My heart started to fail.

It took me several weeks to regain enough strength to start walking again. ¬†Thanks to my dog Chase, I at least walked in a field with him at first. ¬†Then back to my 3 miles a day. ¬†I got down to just under 310 pounds. ¬†This is where I plateaued until this past summer. ¬†Between working two jobs and still drinking too much pop/soda. ¬†I just couldn’t shake the weight. ¬†In fact I gained 10 pounds. ¬†I’ve given up smoking, never really drank, changed my diet a couple of times and put in exercise. ¬†It just isn’t enough. ¬†Especially since winter keeps me indoors and working puts me at walking only in the summer on my days off. ¬†And my exercise bike isn’t getting used much. ¬†Currently it’s trapped among extra chairs and boxes that are still in my kitchen. ¬†So as of two weeks ago, I finally had enough. ¬†If I’m to lose more weight, I need to cut sugar significantly. ¬†So no more pop/soda. ¬†No ice cream or sweets in the house for me. ¬†Yogurt will be my treat. ¬†Frozen fruit (and my low fat smoothies). ¬†Now if mother nature would warm us up and stop with all this insane precipitation. ¬†(It’s flip-flopping between rain and snow and it’s driving me nuts!!) ¬†I sincerely hope this will help me finally achieve 220 in the next year or two. ¬†Where I want to be.

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Rainy Day Bored

Rainy Day BoredBloody hell this town is boring in March. ¬†Especially on a cold rainy day. ¬†I took a long drive yesterday. ¬†Enjoyed some music, wandered aimlessly in a mall and didn’t spend a dime. ¬†Well other than the gas to get me there and back. ¬†I just needed to get out of town. ¬†Think and such. ¬†Also browsed a truck with a plow. ¬†Was a bit beat up and had that nasty double cab syndrome. ¬†I don’t need all that seating. ¬†I mean I want a truck, to use as a truck. ¬†Not a damned family sedan. ¬†Which generally reduces the box size. ¬†Anyway…

Today is Sunday. ¬†Not a lot going on. ¬†Especially in Gayrock. ¬†Turned in my growing collection of pocket change for dollar bills and that was about it. ¬†I can either go out to eat, or shop at the same 5¬†lousy stores. ¬†I’m in Walmart way too much. ¬†Meijer is freaking useless in my opinion. ¬†(If someone says produce one more time, I’m going to punch them. ¬†If that’s all Meijer is good for, it’s not worth the effort.) ¬†Can’t afford a new gun yet. ¬†So Jay’s is out. ¬†Kohls is way over priced and doesn’t carry any clothing for me. ¬†(Three racks is NOT a Big and Tall selection.) ¬†I mean seriously, am I the only one who thinks Kohls is just pointless and pricey? ¬†Big Lots is slowly becoming a junk store. ¬†Especially their furniture. ¬†A chair bought from there didn’t last 6 months before it started to fall apart. ¬†ūüėē

It’s too rainy for me to want to go shooting. ¬†Thanks to the extreme lack of indoor shooting ranges around here. ¬†Still not playing Warcraft. ¬†Well, at least the retail version. ¬†Though the private server market isn’t much better. ¬†I maybe play 30 minutes a day at most before it annoys me. ¬†I’m praying Pantheon will return MMORPG’s to their glory days. ¬†GTA Online still isn’t fun, good thing I didn’t actually pay for it¬†ūüėȬ† (No it’s not pirated, I got it as a gift.)

Tomorrow I hope to head up to Petoskey to look at possible trucks and explore. ¬†I’ve always liked Petoskey. ¬†Loved the year and a half I lived there. ¬†Maybe next weekend I’ll take an all day trip to Traverse City and browse the downtown shops. ¬†If I recall correctly, there was some great ones years ago. ¬†I hope they’re still there.

Other than that, not a lot has gone on in my life lately. ¬†With perhaps one exception. ¬† I’m actually surprised no one has asked about it, but perhaps no one noticed. ¬†Darla and I split. ¬†It’s not her fault. ¬†It’s mine. ¬†I made the decision. ¬†I won’t go into detail, but I want everyone to know that I still think she’s a very kindhearted woman. ¬†I wish her nothing but the best in her life. ¬†I hope we can remain friends.

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Self Defense and Dead Printer

Self Defense and Dead PrinterSo today my printer died. ¬†Not a big deal really. ¬†Though of all the printers I’ve ever owned, this one was a real gem. ¬†It was a Canon PIXMA MG5220. ¬†I got it around late 2010 or early 2011 at Walmart for a sweet $35 on clearance. ¬†Little did I know then, it retailed for nearly $150 and sometimes more. ¬†It was insanely good and quiet. ¬†I found ink deals on Amazon for $8 for all 5 ink tanks. ¬†They all worked perfectly and it was the perfect photo printer. ¬†It made all my sweet Christmas Cards for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. ¬†There was none for 2016 as I had realized that no one actually cared to get Christmas Cards from me. ¬†I sent out 30+ cards in 2015 and got zero in return. ¬†In 2014 I got 1. ¬†Sure, it takes me a while, but I can take a hint. ¬†Though now I need a new printer. ¬†I’m going to try the updated version of the MG5720. ¬†Same basic printer, some new features. ¬†I hope I get 7 years out of this one. ¬†Though I have my doubts.

Though the bigger news is that yesterday I took an NRA Self Defense class and did surprisingly well. ¬†My skills with a gun are fairly good. ¬†Good enough to protect myself and my loved ones. ¬†For my build, I did pretty darn good. ¬†We not only learned when you can and can’t use deadly force, but how to duck behind objects for protection and doing things like leaning around corners and firing rapidly with fairly good accuracy. ¬†We learned a lot more, but I won’t bore you with the details. ¬†I am proud of myself and thankful to those who helped me get to where I am so quickly. ¬†My mom who helped me get the gun and equipment at a decent price. ¬†The salesman at Jay’s Sporting Goods for the suggestion of what gun to choose on a budget. ¬†My Uncle Roger for his support, tips and advice. ¬†As well has letting me use his property to practice. ¬†Bob for covering my shift at the day job so I could attend class.

I should start hanging my certificates on the wall. ¬†I’ve got a small collection of them now. ¬†This was passing the class. ¬†I also have ones from my Navy days and others.

If it wouldn’t be so messy, I’d use the dead printer for target practice¬†ūüėČ

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Eight Years Smoke Free!!

Eight¬†years and counting. ¬†No smoking for me. ¬†I’ve outlived my doctors expectation of 2¬†years by another 3¬†years as of last month.

No Smoking

Yippee for me ūüôā

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It’s About the Lock

It's About the LockJust two weeks after changing web hosts, I changed hosts yet again. ¬†Though this time it wasn’t because I was unhappy per se. ¬†It was because of a couple of reasons both relating to security. ¬†Not only for myself, but everyone who breezes by here. ¬†The gator offered me full functionality of my security software, but wanted to charge me serious cash for a SSL certificate. ¬†Even if I had my own, they wanted a fee to allow me to install it. ¬†I wasn’t having that.

You see, recently Google Chrome started… I’m not going to say “shaming” but alerting visitors to sites like mine that they were unsecured simply because they don’t have a SSL certificate and use https to encrypt any data the visitor may share. ¬†Still that’s like going to the neighbors house and seeing a red light on outside their door because they don’t have a video surveillance system installed. ¬†You know the neighbors and you trust them. ¬†But somehow now you have an uneasy feeling going over there just because someone else says boo. ¬†However, I get it. ¬†Plus, it’s only a matter of time that all other top browsers follow that example.

However, when I read this, I was shocked at the insane prices of a SSL cert. ¬†A decent one was between $30 and $100 per year. ¬†Anything free was only good for 1 – 3 months as a trial version. ¬†As I mentioned before, this site makes me no money. ¬†Sure I have donate buttons. ¬†I think they last donation I got was 5 years ago to put towards a Ventrilo server I was renting for voice chat. ¬†That’s fine, I don’t expect anyone to donate unless I do something for them first. ¬†Lately I haven’t felt like fixing anyone’s computer. ¬†Frankly I work too much and am spread too thin. ¬†I try to enjoy my life outside of work. ¬†Not work more.

Anyway, Bob alerted me to an organization who was out to help secure the web by offering free (and donation backed) SSL certificates. ¬†However, you really need a web host that supports the system automatically as they renew every 60-90 days. ¬†They’re called Let’s Encrypt. ¬†So two nights of research and review scouring. ¬†I settled on a web host here in Michigan. ¬†Spent the weekend moving files and fixing non-secure links. ¬†I have most of my websites they way I want them.

However, I’ve had CastleRain since 1999. ¬†This iteration of CastleRain has been around since 2006 and contains over 500 posts. ¬†That’s a lot of my life documented¬†ūü§Ē¬† It’s going to take me a few weeks to tweak each post and page to make sure they all get that nifty lock. ¬†So if you see anything I miss, copy the URL link and send it to me please ūüôā

So now if you use my contact forms, or click my donate links.  You can feel secure that the things you do here are encrypted so only I get what you share with me.

Sadly it kills all my social media share counters. ¬†Nothing I can do about that but suck it up¬†ūüėē

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The Smell of Gun Powder

Bullet HoleI finally got to shoot my new gun today ūüôā ¬†I went over to my Uncle’s house to do it. ¬†I’m not about to pay $70 for a membership at the local range when the only thing they plow out is the parking lot during the winter (according to others who are discontent with it). ?

Apparently they only clean the snow at the outdoor range when there is a special event. ¬†Screw that. ¬†If I have to trudge through snow, I’m doing it for free. ¬†Hooray for private property!!

My uncle is a Concealed Carry man. ¬†He was impressed with not only my knowledge and attention to safety, but with my skill as well. ¬†Hell I was shocked at how well I did. ¬†Though practice will always be necessary. ¬†We setup a target with a distance of 28.5 feet and the targets are 8 inches in diameter. ¬†Out of the 55 rounds I shot, I only missed 5 times. ¬†That’s 91% ability to hit the target consistently. ¬†I used 50 Browning 9mm Practice rounds and tried out 5 Hornady American Gunner Hollow Point rounds. ¬†Here are 3 of the targets I used:

Targets

Keep in mind, I haven’t shot a gun since 1994 when I was in Boot Camp for the Navy. ¬†Even then I shot a whole 5 rounds of a .45 pistol at a much further distance if I recall correctly. ¬†I scored “adequate” then. ¬†Before that it was a .22 bolt-action rifle my step-dad got me that I just never had interest in. ¬†I may have shot 10 rounds out of it in total? ¬†My memory is fuzzy on my childhood at times.

So up until now I was never a gun kind of guy. ¬†I think now it’s going to be my new thing. ¬†I know at some point in the next few years I’ll upgrade to a Glock Concealed Carry.

I’m hoping to take the Concealed Carry class next month and get my permit after that.

There are still things I want to get.  Like a better holster and a super strong belt.  That and I should get me a new ball cap.

All in all, I enjoyed it very much ūüôā

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