I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on clean, fast alternate picking on electric guitar. I’ve noticed I like a slightly thicker pick for this than general playing – so I’m back to using green Tortex picks, which are .88 size; I might try an even thicker pick at some point.
I also bought a mechanical metronome, which I thought was just cooler than a digital one or a phone app. It’s a cheap Chinese model but it works fine. It’s amazing how much more productive practice is with a strict time, like a drummer or metronome provides.
The work seems to be paying off as I’m playing fast lines much cleaner already.
I recently got back into playing “Total Annihilation: Kingdoms”, one of my absolute favorite games of all time. I particularly like the sides “Veruna” (a force with excellent navy presence) and “Taros” (the “dark side”). Aramon is okay and Zhon and Creon, not so much…
The game has an excellent campaign with a great story, and came with a 40pg booklet full of lore and info (which, sadly, I discarded a few years ago). Ultimately, I spend most of my time playing the machine in free battles.
I also have the expansion pack, which comes with dozens of extra maps and a second campaign (and the side of “Creon”, a sort of steampunk force).
Having meditated for over 15 years, I finally purchased a proper meditating stool… and it really is amazing how much easier it is to sit for an extended period as opposed to choosing a particular yoga pose to stay in. I got it for under $40, made of acacia wood and quality fabric online. There’s definitely less stress on my leg joints as well.
I’ve been brushing up on Java a bit lately, and came across the topic of generics. While I’ve consumed generic classes, primary collections, I’ve only created a generic class a few times. It’s really quite fascinating, in particular when you get to the concept of upper and lower bounds for generic types.
Type erasure in Java is also quite intriguing… the end result being that the Java runtime knows nothing about generics.
I’m reading “Learning Java” 4th Edition, and while there might be a newer version, I still highly recommend it for reviewing generics.
I dropped cable TV years ago and for some time survived on Netflix and/or Amazon Prime.
Maybe a year or two ago I tried out PlayStation Vue, a live channel streaming service. It’s just like cable TV without some of the local channels, all streamed over the internet with no connect/disconnect charges or contracts.
I love it, especially that I can keep it for 2-4 months then get rid of it if I become too busy, without having to return a cable box or pay fees.
Check it out at https://www.playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/
A few years ago I got Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on Steam for very little money on a sale, so I could play Elder Scrolls on a cheap laptop with a poor graphics card. I got Skyrim around the same time and spent most of my time on that.
Recently I’ve come back to Morrowind and it’s such a phenomenal, immersive, very otherworldly experience. I feel like Skyrim, while graphically superior, doesn’t have quite the originality of Morrowind. Both the creatures and the vegetation are just plain weird. I personally love exploring the dark elves’ Vivee location, a seemingly mazelike winding of corridors on multiple levels in giant constructions.
I’ll be playing more for sure… and after 9 hours I’m still level 1, as I’ve focused so much on exploring and conversing with characters rather than battle.
The 8-bit/pixelated graphics of “Alchemic Dungeons” definitely remind me of old DOS or NES games – but the colors seem more vibrant and the graphics more sophisticated.
You choose one of four classes (Fighter, Hunter, Dwarf, or Witch – I think the Hunter is the best class) and go on your way adventuring in a hack and slash sort of style. There are about a hundred items you can craft with materials you collect on your adventures.
I finished the first real stage (not counting the short tutorial), the “Phantom Forest”, after trying again and again – but I definitely learned the basic strategy of the gameplay, and I think later stages will be easier if strategy is applied.
The only real issue with this game is the music gets a bit repetitive… but other than that I highly recommend it!
UPDATE: I’ve since beaten the second stage, which was even more difficult. And an important note: this is a turn-based hack and slash, so you only get to do one thing, then the enemies move/attack, etc.
I used to play Skyrim on a gaming laptop – fun, but recently I bought Skyrim: Special Edition for PS4, and it looks incredible compared to the laptop version (though not as good as some PS4 games). One of the expansions has started, in which you hunt down vampires… but there are countless other general quests to take on. Overall, really fun game with good graphics and lots of stuff to find and figure out; few games have captivated me like Skyrim, and I highly recommend it.
I’ve spent some time on and off trying to learn French, and Duolingo has an excellent free online, interactive program to learn French and dozens of other languages. Worth checking it out if you haven’t already.
I love drinking delicious loose-leaf teas, especially white tea and green tea – and the “Gyokuro Imperial Green Tea” from Teavana is quite possibly the most delicious green tea I’ve ever had. It’s both sweet and plant-like with a certain saltiness or umami flavor.