Meet Indy

Say hello to Indy.


Our local humane society had an outbreak of ringworm, necessitating the need for a number of cats to be sent to shelter homes for recovery or to avoid catching the stuff in the first place. Indy first went to our in-laws place. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that a young kitten with high energy wasn’t ideal for a couple of retired folks, so we brought him to our place. Our intention was to keep him out on our porch separated from our cats until the all clear was given to take him back.

But, as cats are cats, introductions became necessary. Bee (our one eyed cat) was the first and she got along with him pretty well. Then we introduced Skye who also got along fine and finally Cici (the blind one). And surprisingly? Indy got along with Cici and not only played with her but also played at her pace. We haven’t seen another cat do that yet. So after that, well, it was really only a matter of time.

After a couple of weeks, Indy was running around the house and hanging out with the girls. So he’s here to stay (I think Friday is the ‘official’ adoption date). And the name? Well, he was originally called Tawny which I hated so we immediately began searching for another before settling on Indy. The name comes from his intense curiosity, his desire to always be on the go, and his habit of digging in the litter as though he were searching for the Ark of the Lost Covenant. It suites him.

Puddle of Cats

A New Old Ball Game

As I approach the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (more on that later this week), I figured I’d share a new hobby.

Sometime last year I came across an article about Vintage Base Ball. In short, it’s playing baseball using the rules of the 1860s, dressed in the fashion of the day, and all the attitude around it (including spelling base ball as two words, not one). It looked like a lot of fun, athletic but laid back and an emphasis on sportsmanship. A little hunting around and I found a couple of teams about an hour away. Plus it was the off season anyway so I put that on the shelf.

Fast forward to this spring and an article popped up in one of the local news sites – someone looking to form a vintage base ball team here in town. I signed up, along with a bunch of others, and we formed ourselves a team – the Decorah Driftless Dodgers. The rules of 1860s are a bit different from the modern era. To list a few – the ball can be caught off one bounce for an out, the pitcher doesn’t try to throw strikes (and in fact, strikes only count if you swing), there is no leading off of bases, there are technically no home runs so if a ball goes over a fence, you can retrieve it and throw home for the out, and a few other things. It’s interesting and a nice history lesson.

This past weekend, we played our first official game as a team. We beat the Highland Prairie Hayseeds, 10-9, and I personally went 2 for 4 with a couple of RBIs and good plays in the outfield. I later joined the Hayseeds in their second game against the Lanesoro Excelsiors as they were down a man and I was having fun.

So a good start I have to say. I’m not sure how many more games this year the Driftless Dodgers will play. Hopefully a few but it’s early so we’ll see what happens.

The Driftless Dodgers in Red, Hayseeds in White.
The Driftless Dodgers in Red, Hayseeds in White.

Saving Throw vs The Plague

Critical Failure
Critical Failure


So as it my annual tradition, I spent this past weekend sick. Because it wouldn’t be Spring and beautiful weather if I were not laying on my couch, miserable and hoping Steph wasn’t about to smother me with a pillow. Or maybe I was hoping she would. My thinking isn’t entirely clear on that.

In either case, what started as a simple sore throat blew up into congestion and aching body followed by ‘Hey, I think I’m getting better!’ and then being unable to keep any food in my body and another day of misery on the couch. I wish I could say that I did a lot of reading but that didn’t happen. Instead, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, slept (or tried to sleep), and worked on some stuff for the D&D campaign I’m planning.

Oh right – I’m getting back into D&D.

D&D was an obsession of my youth – maybe a little too much so but I have very fond memories of it. From the Basic rules all the way up to 3.5 edition, I played a lot with my friends. After college, I drifted away from it due to the way things go when your friends scatter to the winds. There were a few occasions of online but the tools at the time were clunky and just didn’t work out that great.

Fast forward to the modern era and the tools exist that make playing online a lot nicer. So I started playing a 5th edition campaign and have been having fun enough to start work on my own. No idea how it will end but hey, I’m having fun so there’s that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to seeing if I can make my Saving Throw vs Sickness. C’mon natural 20 …

Belated NASA Pictures

Back in December, Steph and I took our usual vacation to Walt Disney World but we added a twist this time – a day trip over to Kennedy Space Center. We’re both big space geeks and neither of us have been to KSC since we were kids (probably 20+ years ago). So this was going to be a highlight of the trip for us.

And it was. It was a cold and somewhat rainy day but that kept the crowds down and we had a good time spending almost the entire day there. So without further ado, pictures!  Here’s a few choice ones but a completely gallery is here:


Tis the season!
Tis the season!


Space X uses some of the facilities at KSC. This is them prepping one of the pads for launch.
Space X uses some of the facilities at KSC. This is them prepping one of the pads for launch.


Pads 39A and 39B - the two most historic launch pads at NASA.
Pads 39A and 39B – the two most historic launch pads at NASA.


Vehicle Assembly Building - where all the rockets, space shuttles, etc were put together. It's really hard to express how big this thing is. It's huge.
Vehicle Assembly Building – where all the rockets, space shuttles, etc were put together. It’s really hard to express how big this thing is. It’s huge.


The Saturn V Rocket that transported the Apollo project to the moon. Big. Very, very big.
The Saturn V Rocket that transported the Apollo project to the moon. Big. Very, very big.
In all it's glory.
In all it’s glory.

Bonus! Since our last visit there, the Space Shuttle program was retired and one of the shuttles – Atlantis – was sent to KSC. This is the first time either of us have seen a shuttle in person and it was fantastic. A very neat addition to the tour.

The Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle


Drafty Progress; 2015 Total

The phrase “It’s only a draft, it’s allowed to suck’ really doesn’t fly when that draft is coming through your office window and it’s -6 outside.

It’s been incredibly cold up here in NE Iowa. Yesterday was something around a high of -9 with wind chills in the -40s. It made walking to work quite fun, I must say. That aside, another progress update that’s long overdue.

December: ~2,000

No picture this time because I forgot to take one this morning before leaving the house. December was slow though due to vacation, the holidays, and generally me re-thinking a lot of things about the plot and other aspects of my writing. Hopefully more updates on that later.

Yearly: ~65,550

Wow. That … that is more than I was expecting to be honest.  I wish I could say that was the majority of a novel written but I had major re-writes and re-drafting in there with parts of the story thrown out and completely re-written. But looking at that number now, I’m not upset. I’m hoping 2016 is a better year – with more writing and more frequent updates to the blog. I still owe some vacation pictures from Florida (visiting NASA was awesome) so maybe that’ll get done yet this week. *knocks on wood*

Progress and Going Away

Welp, there I go again. Not updating for an extremely long time. At least I have been remarkably consistent in my inconsistency. As December rolls around, I’m hoping that 2016 will be a better time for blogging and updates. I am finding myself missing the blog and just in general writing about whatever I want to write.

On top of that, I’ll be starting the new year sorta fresh. Why, you ask? Well, that’s because Steph and I are going on first away from home vacation in over a year starting this weekend. We’re headed off to Florida which, of course, means Disney and warm weather but we are also doing a little side trip that both of us are extremely excited about:

JFK Space Center

That’s right – we’re going into space! Okay, close to space. We’re going to see the stuff that makes it possible for other people to go into space so that’s close enough, right? Both of us are big space geeks so this is going to be pretty neat for us. We’ve also both been to the Space Center but it’s been ages. I think I was in 7th grade or maybe even before that. It’s been a really long time. Expect many pictures of big rockets and stuff when I get back and hopefully a re-energized Matt.

Now, onto the progress report:



Total Words: 6,000



Total Words: 6,250



Total Words: 6,500

All in all, remarkably consistent. Just like my blogging 😛


May, June, July Progress

I am a horrible human being.

Here I was, planning on making monthly posts (if not more) about my writing progress. Then I blink and three months pass without an update. So … uh … oops? Let’s rectify that.



Total Words: 6,500

Not a terrible month with a strong finish. I stumbled across some good ideas and revelations that made the words flow.



Total Words: 3,750

Ouch. Not a fun month at all. Work threw a couple of big writing/editing projects at me that were due on short timeline. As a result, the creativity and energy that I normally used for my ‘fun’ stuff was sucked away into a pit of withering Corp-speak and frustration. Even when the projects were done, it took some time to get the words back up and flowing again.

Oh yeah, I moved to Stars instead of Dots. Because I ran out of Dots and Stars look better.



Total Words: 4,250

Better but still not there. Work was still annoying and then I had a four day vacation in the middle in which I did no writing whatsoever. Still, I’ll celebrate the upward trend.

So that’s three months. Let’s see if I can do August in September instead of December, shall we?

Return to the Invasion of Normandy – 2015

Last July, a group of friends and I went to ION (Invasion of Normandy). This past weekend, I went and did it again. And like last year, I had a blast.

For those who don’t recall (and who don’t want to click on the little link above) – ION is a massive scenario paintball event that takes place in Albrightsville, PA. Approximately 4,500 people come out to shoot one another and attempt to win the day for their side. We were once again Allies.

Fortunately, this year I traveled with not one but three other folks from Iowa. Okay, just two others joined me on the trip from Iowa out east but we swung by Michigan to pick up my brother who is an Iowan at heart so that counts for something. From there, we headed down to PA. Along the way, we listened to the audio book of The Martian, which helped pass the time. (Hint – If you haven’t read the book, go read it now. It’s awesome).

In any case, we camped Friday night, fought on Saturday, hung out Saturday night, and left early Sunday. We stopped in Michigan for the night and then finished our drive the next day. All in all, a really good time.


  • Last year storming the beach took less than 20 minutes. This year? Almost 90. It was a lot harder fight and required a lot more strategy. The group I was with worked together and led a number of charges that overran enemy positions. For the last 30 minutes, I had no paint in my gun and was simply leading charges and getting other folks to move. It was a sight to behold.
  • On occasion, ‘props’ are dropped in certain locations that will give the side that controls that area points (with which to ‘win’). We learned that a prop was going to be dropped near a place called the Museum at 4pm. Our group of 30 (plus about 15 regular folk) marched for the Museum. We found it unoccupied and setup defensive positions. And for the next 45 minutes, we held that place against 200-300 Germans determined to take it. It was one of the more glorious moments I’ve had in my life and was immense amounts of fun.

And now, some pictures:

After the beach.


The most grievous injury. I have no idea where it came from or what caused it.


My vest and name patch (Harrier is my nick within ShackTac).


Happy to have survived.

Full gallery of pictures here:

Turning 41 Amongst Gentlemen of the Road

Received last night from my little brother:

So this is 41 … it’s something alright. How am I planning on spending it? Well, the folks are coming up for dinner but aside from that, not too much is happening.

Most of the fun stuff happened last weekend. As a combination anniversary (June 5), Steph’s birthday (June 15), and my birthday (June 23), we treated ourselves to the Gentlemen of the Road music festival down in Waverly. (Fun Fact – It was originally to be held here in Decorah but logistical arrangements couldn’t be made with the college, so we lost out on it. Boo.)

What is GoTR? In short, it’s a two day music festival with about a dozen bands, headlined by Mumford and Sons. And it was fantastic. Four of the bands played on Friday with the rest on Saturday. So I got to see names I knew – Mumford and Sons, The Flaming Lips, Jenny Lewis – and a lot I didn’t know – Dawes, My Morning Jacket, Macabees, and a few others.

The headliners capped it off with a 2+ hour long show that was incredibly high energy and fun. Didn’t regret it one bit. Had a blast and would do it again in a heartbeat.

The only problem was the thunderstorms that swept through Saturday morning. Looked a little bit like this:


We were fortunate though in that one of Steph’s friends was from Waverly and her parents lived right next to the campground. We were able to get our car out of the mud pit that was the parking lot and park on solid ground. This also let us skip out of town right after the concert, getting home about 1:30am and letting us sleep in our own beds that night (plus the heavenly shower).

All in all, a great weekend. So here, treat yourself to some pictures and vids (click to embiggen any of them):

Campsite (only about 1/3rd full)
Festival Grounds Entrance
Jenny Lewis
Flaming Lips (Not nearly enough drugs in the world to understand this show …)
Mumford and Sons






Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago on a nice, summer day not too unlike today, Steph and I were married. It has generally been a pleasant time.

Since that church in Calmar, IA (about 10 miles from here), we’ve been a lot of places. Our first anniversary was in Galena, IL, a town not far from where I grew up in Dubuque. Then we bounce around to a few other places – Colorado, Atlanta, and others here and there. Few topped the 4th in Paris with lunch at Versailles and dinner at the Eiffel Tower (that earned me about 10 years, just sayin’).

This year, we opted not to go anywhere and spent the week at home. This morning, we planted trees. Two apples and a cherry.  And, with a bit of unintended humor, one of those apple trees? 

We totally meant to do that.
We totally meant to do that.