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Archive for May, 2011

Gather around and learn from Matt. He has encountered these everyday events and can help you avoid a grisly demise. Grow from his wisdom and if you see him – slap him in the face for referring to himself in the 3rd person.

What’s on tap for today? How about 3 lessons I’ve learned (the hard way) to cheat death. Or, rather, to save my own stupid ass from certain doom. Without further ado – 3 bits of advice to save yer sorry ass.

#1: You are not as good of a swimmer as you think you are

Or: respect the damn ocean!

As we age, we also lose some of our physical prowess. For men, this fact often goes unnoticed until we tear an Achilles, bust a knee or drown in the friggin ocean.

I was raised near water (we had a pool… not that I used it often). My wife also thinks she’s part fish. So, we were both dumb asses last year when we thought we could free swim from a deep-ish section of North Carolina ocean to a sandbank. After all – it didn’t look too far away.

Well, in the ocean, objects are always farther than they appear. We were caught in a nasty current and separated. I quickly realized the only progress I was making was downward and outward. Panic knocked at my door as I thought about my kids growing-up without their parents. Luckily, I had enough gas in the old tank to reach shore, but just barely. My wife needed to be saved by some boogie-boarders, as she just kept moving farther and farther from shore.

Why didn’t I save her? Well (and I hope she makes the same decision the next time we forget our brains), I decided there was no way I could help her without some sort of lifesaving device and I reasoned our kids would be happier with at least 1 parent, rather than 0. Heroic? The stuff of legends? Yeah, not exactly. I’m a practical man.

So, what did we learn? Respect the ocean. Don’t free swim unless you are part Costner. Matt will abandon yer ass to save his own.

#2: Don’t drive like a maniac

As an “average” person, the most dangerous activity we do is driving our motorized vehicles. Do I need to repeat that to make it more real for you?

Chances are, nothing you will ever do will be more dangerous than driving your car.

So, why make it even more deadly by speeding?

“But Matt, I can drive just fine 25% over the speed limit!”

Oh, I didn’t know you had Jedi reflexes, my bad.

Actually, this is something I need to heed as well. I drive far too fast for no good reason. I always tell my wife: “the world will still spin without us.” Is anything really that important that I must risk my family’s lives (and everyone else’s on the road) by zipping at 10-15 mph over the limit? How much time will I really save? Is it even dangerous to speed? Well, let’s do some math!

(warning – it has been many years and many doses of radiation to the head since Matt has done math)

Assuming a speed limit of 55mph and a 30 mile commute to work, you will reach work in ~33 minutes without traffic. If you average 70mph for that same commute, you will arrive in ~26 minutes. You will save 7 minutes each day. However, you are traveling ~27% faster at 70mph than 55mph. Being a gamer, I know I’d never let my Agility/Dexterity be constantly reduced by 27%. In 2nd edition D&D, that’s the difference between a 18 and a 13. Fuck that shit. 

 Seriously – life as you know it will continue its mesmerizing dance without you for 7 minutes. Play it safe. Don’t be a douchebag on the highway.

3: When choking, don’t panic

I happen to choke on almost a daily basis. Solid food needs saliva to go down the old pipe, and my mouth ain’t as moist as it used to be on account of lethal doses of head radiation. While my case is likely different than 99.9% of y’all, this is still solid advice from someone who spends a good deal of time choking on everything.

Don’t panic.

With enough water, I can get anything down. But if I panic, even the smallest morsel of food can feel like major blockage. You see, when you panic you breathe differently and start to gasp. Well, I do at least (I never said I was a doctor). If you can somehow keep yer cool while trying to dislodge a foreign object, I believe you have a much better chance of surviving the ordeal.

Shit – this advice is applicable for #1 and #2 as well. When trying to stay afloat in a roiling ocean, panic could be your worst enemy as you expend precious energy to freak-out. Also, when slipping on ice/water because you were driving too fast, your best ally at that point is a cool head to bring things back under control.

Dizam – there you have it! Don’t panic, don’t be a douche and don’t disregard mother nature. Mayhaps you will live a little longer.

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Before I start in to my little bit of news, I just want to spend a bit of time on “life.”

For much of my life I quit when things got tough. I abandoned my writing dream because I thought society needed me to operate a register/fix computers. Relationships ended for me at the slightest hint of conflict – my longest relationship before college was 2 months. College challenged me and I lost my academic scholarship after the 1st semester. Each and every time someone in the world took advantage of me, I rolled-over and allowed it to happen.

That was my life.

Then, I was forced to grow a pair of non-nerf nuts. In 1999, the doctors told me I might lose my entire tongue. They said I’d be fed from a machine for the rest of my life. They said they might need to remove a portion of my face. They said I wouldn’t be able to swallow without medicine to assist me. They said I’d lose all my teeth. They said I’d never taste food again. They said it would be YEARS until I was anywhere near whole.

Fuck that shit.

I finally took control of my own life and sought the best doctor in the world for my surgery. I remained one step ahead of the doctors by retraining myself to swallow and retraining myself to eat and talk – all without their help. Why? Because their help meant I had to abide by their schedule.  Well, I was finished with the mounting losses. I watched other patients give in and who could blame them? The type of cancer I warred against left no prisoners. It is brutal and I can see where the white flag becomes a relief.

Just like Dido, there was no white flag above my door.

I bled and clawed and scratched and fought for every inch cancer took from me. Though grueling, it was how I chose to not only beat the disease but conquer everything else as well. While I’m still in near-constant pain compared to a “normal/healthy” chap, I’m not fighting at the same level anymore. However, when I target something that matters to me, you can bet I’ll unsheathe my +5 sword and do battle again.

And so it goes with the graphic novel version of Eden. I want it. Bad. It will happen. So, when my artist quit on me a few weeks ago, I didn’t despair. I contacted another artist who provided amazing samples and asked if he wanted the job. He said “yes.”

So, work continues:

Artwork by Andres Cornejo

More details to come, along with a more “official” announcement welcoming Andres to the team.

Be excellent, my friends…

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A short story of mine appears in a new anthology released by Double Dragon Publishing. The anthology is called A Bard’s Eye View, and my story is called The Messenger’s Trap. So, if you like fantasy and/or you want to own everything Matt writes (a noble cause), get on out there and buy it!

Kindle Edition

Paperback Edition

Other eBook Formats

All of us were also interviewed by the editor here.

Enjoy!

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First Interview for Antaran Legacy Published!

Check it out here. My favorite self-quote: “Do you really think white guys named “Matthew” and “Luke” were running around the Middle Eastern desert two thousand years ago?”

Gosh darnit – I’m a funny guy. Sacrilegious? Nope – that’s the truth!

It’s actually a great interview, full of my personal thoughts about the Antaran Legacy and how the story relates to my own life. Be sure to check it out!

T-Minus 3 days to move

Wow, we got rid of so much shit. I’m so proud of my wife… I’ve converted her from “packrat” to “chuck it!” mentality. The mind-altering drugs I’ve been slipping into her wine over the years have finally started to work!

I did come across some more geeky things while packing my office. Warning: this shit is OLD:

Ahh, Pool of Radiance. That game changed my life. It set the bar for everything I played afterwards. And, yup, even as a kid I was a dirty cheater. I still have the cluebook and I used it most recently around 2001-2002 when I coded The Inn of the Drunken Skald, a Neverwinter Nights persistent online world (we were #1 for a long, long time). In the original, I remember hiring mercenaries and getting them killed to take their magical stuff. I recall Sokal Keep and the dozens of orcs you had to kill all in one fight. So many warm memories from this granddaddy RPG…

Speaking of RPGs with grey hairs, that’s my original install disc for Everquest! Somehow, I still have it. I suppose it holds its nostalgic value to me because it was the first 3D mmorpg I played. It launched many games for my group of friends, including the eventual WoW addiction (of which I have made a full recovery). My most vivid memories from EQ include “training” our dark elf guards onto the humans and gnomes who attacked our guards near the outskirts – choo choo! There was no direct pvp, so that had to suffice. A GM eventually put a stop to our actions, though we felt justified. I also recall staring at female ogre ass-crack during most adventures…  

What’s that last little thing up in the corner? Yup, playing cards for the best Collectible Card game I’ve ever played: Free Realms. While not as ancient as the other items here, it is the height of geekdom to order playing cards with yer mmorpg character on them.

Yup… get it out now.

I’m that guy. I just can’t bring myself to chuck them. The game is stellar, though it has no support from Sony Online Entertainment anymore. If you try to argue with me that another CCG is better, I will punch you in the nuts. Well, okay, Jyhad/V:tES is better when played with 3+ players. But, nothing can beat the dueling gameplay in the Free Realms CCG!

Ta Ta for now!

More radio silence from me as I move the 7 lifeforms in my house to another house. SEVEN?! Damn, we might need to cull the herd. Simplify, simplify…

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Radio Silence

Here I sit, stranded in Chattanooga Tennessee, aware that it has been some time since my last blog post. Moving in less than a week. Allergies from hell. Workin’ like a maniac. You know – life and all that.

Oh, looks like I’ll at least make it to Atlanta. Here’s hoping I avoid a repeat performance of my Philly baggage claim night.

As I’ve mentioned before, this move into a new, smaller house is all part of my master plan to simplify life. When the dust settles, I shall share my thoughts. We weren’t able to sell any beds at our tag sale, and I was initially bummed that we had to lug all that furniture. Then, the most amazing thing happened – we learned of a single mom and her daughter who were sleeping on the floor. Easy solution – we gave them our old beds, including an antique that has been in the family for generations. May it comfort them as it has me, my mother, my grandmother and my great-grand mother. I cannot think of a better fate for that furniture.

Shit – time to board!

More updates on the flip side.

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Warning: this post is full of obscure geekiness.

I’ve been opening and dissecting computers since about 1985. In 2000 I thought it wise to make a career working with these accursed machines. At first, I was building, modding and repairing the machines at a mechanical level in a warehouse. Then, I moved on to network deployment and consulting. From there, applications, and now I’m a pure software/business consultant.

But, as they say – never forget your roots!

I recall, as a kid, tearing computers apart and building better machines from all the various parts – Frankenstein’s monster style. We even connected a typical wall light switch to the back of our computers to turn the internal speaker on/off (yes, there was a time where we couldn’t disable/soften the grating beeps).

But all of that was decades ago.

Today, I needed to rebuild a machine for a friend. Here’s how it ended:

Sorry for the fuzzy pic... I'm too lazy to take another.

That’s a Dell machine with its maw open wide and a CD-ROM drive just hanging out there. I wasn’t able to boot to the CD ROM (BIOS wouldn’t recognize it) and found the IDE cable detached. Easy fix – remove the other HDD taking the IDE #2 spot and plug in the damn drive! Still no dice. So, I checked the jumper and switched it from “cable select” to “master.” The BIOS still wouldn’t find the drive. I swapped the IDE cable with another. No heartbeat.

In the end, I attached the CD ROM drive to the “slave” position for the HDD IDE cable, changed all jumpers, and tried it again.

WE HAVE A HEARTBEAT!

Resolution: bad IDE port on the mother board.

So, now Windows is installing (slowly because of the shared, reduced speed on the line). In another 10 years, I predict such a feat will be impossible for me. But, for now, I still know my way around the inside of an old computer… for what that’s worth.

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