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.
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.)
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):
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?
Well I feel like a schmuck. I was positive I’d posted about my March progress but a quick look this morning told me that I was wrong. D’oh! To make up for that, here’s a picture of Cici acting as referee for a grunge match between Skye and Bee.
A total of 7,750 words written during March which makes it a good, solid month. It also marked the rough end of Act One. Not much else to say about that one.
Not nearly as good but better than I expected. A mere 5,500 words for the month. You’ll also note that I switched to Pink dots … that’s cuz I ran out of Green. A few things to note:
1) Following the end of Act One in March, I spent 7 – 10 days working out the path that Act Two would be taking. It ended up taking longer than I expected, though in the process, I figured out a lot more about my characters and made some much larger changes.
2) Solved a potentially major plot hole. Good but that took up a lot of time as well.
3) Grand Theft Auto 5 came out in the middle of April. I knew that was going to eat into my time so I’m not too disappointed. In fact, I’m surprised I was only 2,000 words off.
We have a new resident in our house. Say hello to Bee.
Bee, short for Beholder (either in relation to the one-eyed D&D monster or the phrase, “Eye of the Beholder”, take your pick) came to us from the local Humane Society. She lost her eye when she was younger but otherwise is the epitome of a young cat – full of energy and loves to get up in your face and find out what you are doing. This includes when you are sleeping.
This means, of course, that Steph fell in love with her right away. She spent a couple of months wearing me down until I finally gave up and said “Sure, bring the cat into the house.’ And so here she is.
Bee was found in a trailer with 19 other cats so she’s used to other animals. This has proven a boon as she has no problems with Skye or Cici. Now, Skye and Cici having problems with Bee is another story but it hasn’t been as bad as we feared. Cici came around pretty quick (she’s always chill) and Skye has taken a bit longer. There’s still a bit of ‘Who the hell is this?’ but very little hissing and even some playtime.
And if anyone asks – No, we are not getting any more pets. That’s final. End of story. Because if we do, I get to buy a new computer. 🙂
I honestly did not mean for a month to pass before posting again. Wow.
Anyway, here’s some February progress.
Again, the Green dots represent days that I’d written in increments of 250 words. Orange is video games (guess when I beat a game? Go on, guess!). The total for the month is roughly 7,500 words. That’s not bad considering that A) February is a short month and B) I was laid up by a nasty cold for a solid week. Total for the start of the year is almost 17,000 words which is alright in my book (both literally and figuratively).
March is shaping up to be a pretty good month as well. Hopefully I can keep that up and avoid coming down with the plague or something. That would totally suck.
I actually meant to post this last week but a nasty bout with the stomach flu waylaid me. Here is a picture of cute cats to atone for the error:
Okay, that aside, here is another picture:
A couple of months ago, I read about V.E. Schwab’s method of tracking her writing. She explains it in depth in a video called ‘Best Writing Trick I Know‘ but I’ll sum it up quickly here: Go buy a simple calendar and a bunch of stickers (she uses stars, I use dots). Each star or dot represents X number of words. Hit or surpass the goal and earn a sticker. Different colored stars or dots can be used to track other things such as exercise, reading, etc.
For me, I set the goal to 250 words earns a green dot. The orange dots represents how much time I spend playing computer games (1 dot = 30 minutes), a known and major distraction for me.*
The whole purpose of the calendar is to be a visual reminder of your progress and to give you something to work toward.
And it works surprisingly well. There is something about looking at the calendar and saying “I haven’t earned a sticker today” or “Another 150 words and I can slap down a third dot for the day! Booyah!” Guess it goes back to that childhood fascination with getting a gold star on your paper or whatnot. In fact, I’ll probably be switching to stars in March as the dots seem rather bland. In any case – I like it and it’s working. I wrote most days in January and earned 9,500 words.
This makes my editing buddy very happy:
* The gaping holes in Wednesday and Saturday are due to those being my session days with ShackTac. Those are known times and I try budget for them on other days.
Steph is away on a business trip right now. Luckily, this is her only one of the year that we know of, unlike the past few years where I felt more like a hotel butler each time she came home.
“Hello, Mrs. Hughes. We have your room made up for you and some chocolate in the cupboard. Also, here is a kitten for petting.”
In the meantime, she left me at home to fend for myself. I’m pretty good at this except right now I’ve developed a head cold that is leaving me weak and lethargic. And the cats are out of food so they began circling me like sharks at breakfast this morning. It was a rather worrisome feeling.
(The cats have now been fed – vet didn’t open until seven and I rushed out right away.)