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March 14 winter storm pictures March 15, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Weather.
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It was a quiet 29 days following last month’s blizzard. Despite that, I kept snow shovels on the front porch just in case there was at least one more storm before spring. As it turns out, there were two. The first storm, which came through last Friday, delivered a few inches of wet snow which barely accumulated on pavement. I only had to shovel one strip of the driveway where wet snow did accumulate and wouldn’t melt in the warm March sun.

The second storm was to come yesterday and it was expected to be a massive blizzard that would drop a foot or more of snow amid strong gusty winds. As impact approached, the forecast track shifted west. Sleet was expected to mix with the snow, limiting accumulation to a foot at most. Some computer models were expecting a change to rain, which would limit snowfall even more. That’s what ended up happening.

I woke up at around 7AM to the sound of sleet pelting my east-facing window. The changeover had happened after only a few inches of snow accumulated. In the next hour, sleet began to mix with, and change to, rain. The rain turned the snowfall to slush, but didn’t wash it away. That’s where I came in. I went outside just before 9:00 and shoveled the driveway except for its edge in case snow plows came through again. I wouldn’t want my work to be undone in that area.

It was grueling. Shoveling a few inches of slush is much tougher than shoveling a foot of powdery snow. Plus, in spite of gloves, my fingers were cold. After an hour of laborious shoveling, they were numb and my outer layers of clothes were soaked. Running warm water on my fingers when I got back inside turned the numbness into painful prickling for several seconds. It wore off after a minute.

Luckily, the rain never changed back to snow and the snow plows didn’t return. So, I shoveled the edge of the driveway around 3:30 while temperatures were still above freezing. There was a brief snow shower early in the evening, but it merely coated a few spots.

No winter storm post would be complete without a photographic timeline. We start at 8:17 AM:

10:14 AM, after shoveling:

1:33 PM:

3:53 PM, after additional shoveling:

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Watching YouTube and playing video games March 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, History, Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Technology, TV, Video Games.
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After about a year of watching TV shows, movies, documentaries, and comedy specials on Netflix in my downtime, I nearly ran out of things to watch. As a result, I turned my attention to YouTube. I watched several episodes of Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Game Sack, and Gaming Historian on there last year. But in the last month, I’ve re-watched Game Sack and Gaming Historian episodes, and binge watched The 8-Bit Guy/8-Bit Keys and My Life in Gaming. This post is about how I discovered the channels I frequent.

I discovered Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show last year while looking for interviews of Kevin on YouTube. I was listening to his book, How I Slept My Way to the Middle, on Audible last March, and was completely unaware of his chat show, which he’s had since 2009. In the two months that followed, I watched episodes with guests who I was familiar with or whom I didn’t expect to express their political beliefs. Once I was caught up, I would watch new archived episodes two days after they streamed live. I tried watching one episode live, but I focused more on the chat room discussion than the interview. For a few months, the KPCS YouTube channel was down; all videos were gone. Eventually, they were restored and I resumed watching new episodes.

I found Gaming Historian while looking for longplay video game videos like they have at World of Longplays. What I got instead was informative historical documentaries on video game franchises, consoles, companies, and industry executives. Norman Caruso does a great job.

I discovered Game Sack, a channel run by Joe Redifer who co-hosts with his friend Dave White, via suggested videos after watching some Gaming Historian episodes. Each episode features playthroughs and critiques by Joe and Dave of the same categories I listed for Gaming Historian, as well as video game genres. The videos are entertaining, informative, humorous, and well-spoken; a perfect blend.

David Murray is the 8-Bit Guy. His videos focus on retro technology such as computers, digital cameras, and the aforementioned video game consoles. A video about video game music in the 8-bit era was suggested to me after a Game Sack episode. That video inspired David to start the 8-Bit Keys channel, which focuses on synthesizers and keyboards. I binged watched those videos a few weeks ago while recovering from an upper respiratory infection.

I support the latter three YouTubers on Patreon. Searching for other YouTubers to support on that site led me to My Life in Gaming. I watched an episode or two and became hooked. It’s hosted by two friends named Coury Carlson and Marc Duddleson (aka Try4ce). Their videos range from masterclasses on video game consoles and hardware for capturing gameplay to live streams of gameplay. Similar to Gaming Historian and Game Sack, they also have videos devoted to video games and VG developers. They even had a series of “How to Beat” videos which parodied 1990s VHS tips videos. Here’s one of them.

All these videos inspired me to buy NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), Game Boy, Super NES, and Sega Genesis video games to add to my collection. I even bought a refurbished Xbox 360 with a wireless controller a couple of weeks ago. Once it arrived, I bought several pre-owned games at a nearby Gamestop. They include puzzle games, quiz games, racing games, kart racers, and platformers. The game I’ve played the most thus far is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. I bought the Xbox 360 because it’s backward compatible with most Xbox games which I plan on eventually getting. I also have in mind the Playstation 3 because of its backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2. If only the PS4 and Xbox One were backward compatible with all their predecessors.

Getting back to YouTube, there are two more channels I’d like to discuss. For a couple of years, I’ve been subscribed to a channel called Prager University. It was created by talk radio host Dennis Prager as “an online video resource promoting knowledge and clarity on life’s biggest and most interesting topics.” The channel “gather[s] some of the world’s best thinkers and distill[s] their best ideas into free, 5-minute videos on things ranging from history and economics to science and happiness.” One video led me to another channel. It was by Dave Rubin, a former left-wing ideologue who is now a free-thinking, open-minded classical liberal. After watching that video, YouTube suggested another video from Dave’s channel, The Rubin Report. Now, I’m hooked on that, too. I haven’t binge watched videos, but I have seen his commentaries and most recent interviews. Not only is Dave a political commentator, but he’s also a gamer. He played through Contra on the NES in his latest live stream video.

If you like video games and/or politics, I recommend you give these channels a try. They’ve given me hours of information and enjoyment. Thank you all.

Guest reading at my old elementary school a third time March 6, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Education, Personal, Photography.
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Previous guest reading posts: 2015, 2016
Later guest reading post: 2018

I was back at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport last Thursday to read Dr. Seuss books on the week of his birthday for the third year in a row. But that wasn’t all. I also helped with the morning announcements by reading a Dr. Seuss-inspired poem/quiz. My delivery style received praise from teachers and students alike.

I read a variety of books this year. The book I read to most classes was The Cat in the Hat. I also read Horton Hatches an Egg; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; My Many Colored Days; and Gerald McBoing Boing, the first book I read two years ago.

As usual, I incorporated voice acting into my reading, which led to cartoon character requests afterward. I even got requests for presidential impressions.

My sister Lauren told me on Friday that the school was still buzzing about me a day later. That made me beam with pride, just as I was beaming when I was there on Thursday.

Until next year, here’s this year’s [mostly] candid shot collage:
mcguestreadingcollage-30217

9PM UPDATE: This afternoon, I received a gift bag of food from Trader Joe’s with a card that read as follows:

Dear Mike,

Thank you so much for all your help on each and every Dr. Seuss/Read Across America Day at Giblyn. Thank you especially this year! ♥ You were really the star of the day. Your talent in reading, voices, and photography ensures a successful day!

–The Giblyn Reading Dept.