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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Star Trek: Online

Fleet Admiral Robert Lupia of the Sovereign-class USS Justice reporting for duty.
In the past couple of weeks, I've started playing Star Trek: Online again. I chiefly blame Aaron Henley for this, since he started playing and posting videos of his experiences on YouTube. There are a few things that I've learned from this experience:

1. Being in charge has some nice perks. Part of the experience is that you have a crew, which consists of "Bridge Officers" and "Duty Officers". The Bridge Officers are those that accompany you on away missions and man the stations on your ship. Four of mine are in the picture above, but I have about 12 at the moment. Duty Officers, on the other hand, are the crew. The crew is able to perform operations while the Captain is off doing other things. Anything from "Host a Poker Game" to "Infiltrate the Orion Syndicate". The nice thing about this is that the main character (me) gets experience from those missions. I'd say at least 20 of my character's 60 levels came from my Duty Officers.

2. A mouse really is necessary. We have a laptop and it's not a young one, so it has some quirks. One of those quirks is that a USB mouse won't work with it. It's not that it doesn't recognize that there's a mouse there, it's just that the mouse operation cuts in and out. So I'm forced to use the touch pad for operations, which can get in the way.

3. I'm a miser. Many missions give you "currency" rewards, which can be Replicator Credits, Dilithium Ore, or even Gold Pressed Latinum. There are several ways to use those, whether it's at vendors or in the marketplace. The trouble is that I've found myself saying, more often than not, "It's not worth it." I guess that's why I have over a million Replicator Credits sitting there.

It's a fun game, but I don't get on it all that often. If anyone out there plays, let me know what your experiences are. I can be found as "Robert Lupia@JusticeCEO" the majority of the time.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017


Since we got rid of cable & satellite, our family watches a lot of stuff on streaming services. Primarily we use Netflix and Hulu, but also occasionally Amazon Prime and Crunchyroll. Recently, Disney announced that they are pulling out of their Netflix deal and starting their own streaming service. Unfortunately, I think this is a bad move.

CBS has already said that the only way to see Star Trek: Discovery (after the first episode) is on their own pay service. This has caused a lot of fans, myself included, to already decide not to watch it. While I have no problem with companies deciding what they think it best, they need to understand why the "Netflix Model" works so well. One work, variety.

There are very few streaming services that I would consider paying for that had such a narrow focus, and yes I consider Disney to be a narrow focus. I can watch a huge amount of things on the services that I use, some of which I can't see anywhere else. However, there are things on there that I'm not fond of, but that my wife and daughter love to watch. That variety makes it worth the monthly fee.

One way that Disney can make this work, for me at least, is to do what the WWE service does. Open the vaults. Give the viewers things that it is impossible to find elsewhere. Put the entire, unedited and uncensored, run of Disneyland and Wonderful World of Color on there. Put out those cartoons that we can't get on TV or YouTube. Heck, give us Song of the South and I'll sign up on the first day.

I think that the Walt Disney Company has had some great ideas and business strategies, but if they're just going to show their movies on this service, I don't think this is one of them. If they go the WWE way, it can be successful. If they follow CBS's idea, I think it will fail.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Geek Fitness

Recently Rob Kelly had me on for an Episode of Fire & Water Presents, where we talked about our fitness goals, routines, etc. This seems to have struck a cord with a good amount of people, so we opened the Fire & Water Geek Fitness Facebook Group.

I also decided to make my current weight loss results more public, so you'll notice a little ticker on the right of the page that shows how much I've lost to date. I hope that this will inspire others, and also keep me accountable. My current goal is to get down to 214 lbs. That might not be where I stay, but I want to get down there and see how I look/feel and then evaluate.

Trust me, if I can lose this much weight, simply through watching what I eat and increasing my activity, then anyone can. If you need help figuring out what to do, or just some encouragement, feel free to join the Facebook group or just message me privately.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017


I've had a hard time coming up with a post for this week, so I figured that I'd tackle something head on. Last Monday, our 11 year old German Shepherd, Athena, died in her sleep. I had just had her at the vet the previous Friday for some heath issues which I thought were due to her back or back legs. Now I believe that they were due to her heart starting to fail her.

Puppy Thor - At 4 months bigger than most adult dogs
This is the first time in over 12 years that we haven't had a dog in the house. Our first dog was Thor, who grew to be a 125 lb gentle giant. He came from a pet store and was super marked down because he was already 35 lbs at 4 months old.

He was quite the goofball, but the most loyal dog you'd ever want. He had some behavior issues, but went through 3 training classes successfully. He was where I learned how to be the Alpha, to the point that when he accidentally bit me once, the look on his face was of someone who slapped a god in the face and just realized what they did. Unfortunately, he only lived to be 7, due to cancer, but I'm sure they were 7 happy years.

Athena being affectionate, Thor being annoyed
While we still had Thor, and when we thought we weren't going to be able to have kids, we rescued Athena. She came to us from the Garden State German Shepherd Rescue at a year old. She soon learned how to be the "annoying little sister" to Thor. She always, and I mean always, wanted to play. Luckily, Thor was laid back enough to be able to handle that. Mostly.

There were times where Athena didn't take a hint. One such time, they were in the hallway and she was pestering Thor. He eventually got so sick of her that she grabbed her by the throat (without injuring her) and slammed her to the floor hard enough to shake the house. He held her there for a moment, as if to say "That's enough, kid." When he let go ... she bit his foot.

Arby never sat still long enough to get a decent picture
After Thor was gone for about a year, my coworker had told me of a friend of hers who bread GSD's and had to get rid of her son's. He was already 6 years old, and a long hair (which I had never seen). We agreed to take him, which is how we got Arby. You could tell that he was always the Omega Dog in the house, which gave Athena a promotion.

Since Athena was now getting older, Arby took over the "energetic younger sibling" role. Athena wasn't as crotchety as Thor was at times, but you could tell that she couldn't keep up with him. He was always the healthy dog, but deferred to her where food was concerned, so he tended to be under-weight. The beginning of this year, though, he started to be REALLY under-weight. The vet couldn't figure out what was happening and, since he eventually lost bladder control, we decided to put him down in May.

So now the house is a lot cleaner, but also a lot emptier. It'll be this way for awhile, as we're going to enjoy being free of pet obligations. Hopefully all three of them are having a ball playing together. (As long as there aren't tennis balls involved, as Thor tended to hoard them.)

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

MCU Reset Switch

There's been a lot of talk about the actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe aging out of their parts, or just coming to the end of their contracts. Well, with Avengers: Infinity War coming up, I think that Marvel Studios has a great "out" for that. You see, the Infinity Gauntlet, which is what Thanos puts all the Infinity Gems into, is a reality warping device. That means that there can be wide-sweeping changes with this as the only explanation.

Here's how I see it happening. We have the boss fight of The Avengers (and probably everyone else) against Thanos at the end of the movie. During this, a lot of "Infinity Energy" is being thrown around. There's a bright flash as the villain is defeated and our heroes are all knocked down. As they get up, they are the new actors for the roles. This way you can have Robert Downey, Jr, Chris Evans, etc retire from the roles, bring in younger/new actors, and you don't have to do a complete universe reset.

This way everyone will acknowledge, "Yes, that's Tony Stark," and it won't be an issue. As a side benefit, you can change some continuity stuff that might not work for future films. This can be explained away as a side effect of the <insert location name> Incident without any trouble.

I assume that Marvel Studios and Disney will be around with my consultant fee any time now.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Professional Wrestling

Image from WWF Old School
Inspired by the new Get Back To The Wrestling podcast, I've been watching some classic WWF Pay-Per-View events. It's amazing what I had forgotten about these things. There's no doubt that they are a soap opera writ large, and it's interesting to see the way things get built up and broken down, all in service of the story.

Add to this the athleticism of the men and women (yes, there were lady wrestlers way back when), and it is truly a thing to behold. It certainly brings back a lot of memories from when my sister and I would watch wrestling on the weekends, and bug our parents to get us Wrestlemania or Summer Slam.

I'm also using this as an opportunity to teach Kira about wrestling and how even though it's not "real", the moves that these guys are doing takes a lot of practice so as to not hurt the other person. I think she appreciates what has to go on to pull off one of these matches, especially since she's had a year of dance. That taught her how hard some moves that look easy can really be.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Tales of Two Howards

Those of you familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe know that we've seen two versions of Howard Stark (father of Tony) between the Iron Man & Captain America movies, as well as Agent Carter & Ant Man. These two men seem to be completely different, and not just due to having grown older. As we can see in Agent Carter, even knowing that the world can be at stake doesn't make him change very much.

So what caused this? Well, as with most things, I have my theory. I think that Howard didn't really change until 1964, when he attended/presented at the New York World's Fair. While there he met another innovator, Walt Disney. The two struck up a fast friendship and Walt told Howard about many (but not all) of his plans for the future. This changed Howard's view on the world.

Even though he was a founding member of SHIELD, Howard had never thought about the future being a bright possibility. He, and most of SHIELD, were more concerned with keeping the present safe. Meeting Walt changed that and Howard started thinking about what was to come. When Walt died in 1966, it hit Howard hard, and he then devoted his life to bringing about the Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. This lead directly to the 1974 Stark Expo, as seen in Iron Man 2.

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