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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Turn Based vs Real Time


When I think about single player games that I play, I find that I much prefer turn based combat to real time combat. It could be a function of my age, both what I grew up with and my reaction time, but I like having games like Final Fantasy (up through X, at least), Xenogears, and, more recently, Battle Chasers operate better than your typical beat-em-up. Don't get me wrong, I love Castelvania: Symphony of the Night and various MMO's, but when I just want to sit down and have fun, I find myself going more to the turn-based mechanic.

I guess that it's a good thing that there's no shortage of JRPG games out there that I can play.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

New Bit of Tech


As longtime readers know, we cut the cord almost 2 years ago. Since that time, we've been using an HD antenna for local channels, but most of our viewing is done via streaming. This was done through our PlayStation 3 system, but I had recently noticed a lot more glitching with services. Things taking to long to load, or freezing in the middle of playback. This didn't occur on the same apps on my tablet, so it wasn't an internet issue. Sadly, we concluded that it was time for an upgrade. Since we've had the PS3 for 6 years, we certainly got our use out of it.

So, on the day before Thanksgiving, the above system arrived at our door. It's a PS4 Pro, Star Wars Battlefront 2 edition. While we don't have a 4K TV, our current TV still being in working order, I do plan on getting one eventually. That, along with the 1 TB hard drive and better processing power, lead me to the Pro version. We've been using it successfully for 2 weeks and I can gladly say that the problems I noticed before are now gone. As an added bonus, I now have access to more games and I might just get to play online with my friends. (That will require scheduling to line up, as with everything else.)

Now I'm waiting for Final Fantasy VII: Remake to come out, as the original is the reason I bought a PlayStation in the first place.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok


We finally saw Thor: Ragnarok and I liked the movie, overall. I like the humor in it, the use of Led Zeppelin (both times), and the action. What I don't like, however, is how they messed with the cosmology of the Norse Gods. Let me enumerate my issues, and I'll stick with the Marvel Comics version rather than get into the Lore.

Here there be spoilers.

First of all, we have Hela. While I think Cate Blanchett did an absolutely outstanding job, I have a real problem with her parentage. Hela is the daughter of Loki, and the byplay between the two is really good, in the comics. Here, though, she's the unknown older sister of Thor. Sorry, but that doesn't work. She can still be the villain of the piece, but get her father right. In fact, it would make it even better if Thor kept suspecting Loki of betraying him to his daughter rather than just from being a schemer.

Secondly, Ragnarok is often referred to as the Twilight of the Gods, because most of the Norse Gods are to be killed in that. Surtur, however, is supposed to set all of creation on fire after bathing his sword in the eternal flame. I'll forgive the changing from sword to crown, but releasing him just to burn Asgard? Nope. He'd keep going and burn EVERYTHING!

Third, Thor's exclamations. Why the heck is the God of Thunder saying, "Oh my god"? What, "Odin's Beard" isn't good enough for you? And just which "god" is his, anyway? If not Odin, then Bor? Maybe Buri? That just threw me right out of the movie.

Finally, Odin's death is to be at the hands (jaws) of the Fenris Wolf. The wolf and Odin are in the same movie, and Odin dies, but the wolf doesn't kill him? Nope. Sorry. Odin just spreading himself on the wind like Apollo (yes, that's a Star Trek reference) is just way too simple. It's a MacGuffin, pure and simple, to get the villain out and about. They could have released Hela because Odin wasn't in Asgard to re-up some spell to keep her in Hel. Then she comes to Earth, with Fenris (who is her brother, BTW), and the wolf chows down on Odin. Much more poignant, in my opinion.

So, I don't dislike the movie, but there's just too much that they got wrong, even just from the comics, for me to say it's great. Maybe I'll like it better on a re-watch, but right now it's strictly middle of the road.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving


No matter when you celebrate or who you're with, I hope that everyone has a lot to be thankful for this year. I know I do.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a parade to watch. :)



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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Time Travel Stories


Out of all of the possible variations of stories out there, there's one that I am really not a fan of, and that's Time Travel. The main reason for this is that I really only like one kind of time travel, that of predestination. The idea that you travel through time and everything that happens does so because it has already happened, so nothing actually changes.  That's a very hard thing to do and, from what I've seen, there aren't many that get it right.

Two of the shining examples of stories that got it are the movie "The Final Countdown" and the novel "The Anubis Gates". Both of these take you through a series of events that lead you, the viewer, to believe that history can, and will, be changed. However, what happens is that history unfolds exactly as it was meant to.

Don't get me wrong, I find "Back to the Future" and things like it to be quite entertaining, but they aren't my preferred type of story where time travel is involved. Changing the past is always a fun thing to play around with, but are you really changing something in your timeline, or just creating an alternate timeline? If it's not a comedy premise, this type of time travel could be a big problem.

Like I said, though, the predestination type seems to be pretty hard to pull off. Mainly because you have to had thought the entire plot out backwards and forwards, making sure that all of your bases are covered. That's probably why you don't see many of this type out there.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Little Bit of Self Indulgence

Yozora, Kodaka, and Sena
Please excuse this bit of an exercise, but I've got to get something out of my system. I recently finished watching the Anime "Haganai", which has two seasons and ends on a cliffhanger. The last episode came out in 2013, so the cliffhanger has not been resolved, even though the light novels on which it is based has continued.

This is going to be a writing exercise for me to work out what I think would have been a better ending, even keeping a cliffhanger, but not one so frustrating. Since this includes spoilers for the anime, I'm going to put in a jump break. If you want to read on and haven't seen the anime, you have been warned.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Spooky Bats & Scaredy Cats

Yes, I know that Halloween was 2 days ago, but I didn't want to sit on this for another year. I saw this when it first came out and since it's claymation, I wanted to see it again the next year. However, I didn't remember the name of it, so I could never find it. Luckily I managed to uncover the video this year, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Let me know what you think about it. I seem to be biased towards pretty much anything claymation, but I think this is a cute concept.



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Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Halloween That Almost Wasn't

With Halloween coming up next Tuesday, here's a blast from the past for you. I remember seeing this when I was a kid, but it didn't make much of an impact. Still, Judd Hirsch as Dracula is worth a half hour of your time, I think.



For those interested (like me), there is also a RiffTrax version available.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

I AIN'T NO BUNNY RABBIT!

For those of you that don't know, I had quite a bad car accident last week and, as a result, haven't had the time (or energy) to think of anything geeky to write. I got away with just bruises, so I'm lucky, but OUCH! So, here's a cartoon that contains a very applicable quote:

"I'm not like other people. I can't stand pain. It hurts me." - Daffy Duck


(Ep. 168) - The Abominable Snow Rabbit by ducthangsuachua

See you next week for the yearly Halloween post!

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Watching Video Games

You know, I just don't understand Twitch. I get watching someone you're next to play a game, since you can make comments of give advice, but just watching a video of someone playing a game isn't all that interesting to me.

The one major exception to that is Talyn Plays. This is a YouTube channel run by Aaron Henley of Tangents Abound. There are a few differences here that make it entertaining.

1. Aaron is a friend of mine. Just like watching that friend on the couch next to you, the fact that I know the guy doing the gaming helps a lot. (It also allows me to give him tips, or make snide comments, after the fact.)

2. It's family friendly. Sometimes I watch alone, sometimes with Michelle, sometimes with Kira, and sometimes with all three of us. The content makes it easy to do that.

3. The commentary. Aaron has a great sense of humor, which aligns pretty closely to my own, so I just love to hear what he has to say as the game is going on is a real treat.

Don't take my word for it, watch his first episode of Star Trek Online and see for yourself.



Full Disclosure: Aaron is a Patreon Supporter, but I wrote this post without his knowledge.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Superman: The Movie Ending

What's really going on here?
I recently re-watched Superman: The Movie with the commentary track (thanks to the new Superman Movie Minute) and something occurred to me. The premise of the ending is that Superman turned back time in order to save Lois by averting the disasters. We even see the water flowing back, the dam repairing itself, etc.

The problem is, this doesn't work. Jimmy comes up with a line about how Superman dropped him in the middle of the desert during an earthquake. Well, if the disasters didn't happen, Jimmy would still be on top of Hoover Dam. So, what really happened?

Well, what if it was only Superman going back in time? He knows that he can't be in the same place as his other self, or bad things would happen. What he can do, though, is act to lessen the impact of the explosion. He can do more work in the fault, or other underground areas, to bring the earthquake down the Richter Scale, so that the dam doesn't burst and the ground doesn't open under Lois's car.

He couldn't stop the missile from hitting, since that wouldn't give him cause to go back in time in the first place, but he can change the eventual effects. That makes it work with Jimmy's line and it keeps with the powers shown in the comics.

What do you think? Is there another explanation that I'm missing?

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con

The world's newest superhero - The Midnight Cat!
This past weekend our family took a trip down to Baltimore Comic-Con, which was a really good time. Believe or not, this convention actually focused on COMICS! There were some great creators there, including Jerry Ordway, Walt & Louise Simonson, Mark Waid, Joe Staton, Paris Cullins, and Karl Story. There was also enough room to actually move around, which I've found to be a rarity at bigger conventions.

What was really nice, though, was there was specific programming for kids. Kira was able to take part in a few of the workshops, including Superhero University (as you can see above). She had a great time and got to discover a lot of new kid-focused books.

I think the highlight of the weekend, though, was meeting people. I knew that Tom Panarese was going to be there, as he has gone for the past several years and he took his son last year. We met up at Thom Zahler's table, and had fun chatting. We met up again later at the kid's area and who should show up but Darrin & Ruth Southerland along with Chris Calloway! The next day we say Darrin & Ruth again, but this time they had Michael Lane with them.

It was a really fun weekend, with great friends and a good amount of comics fun. We might just go back next year.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Odd Mental Processes

Armus, killer of Security Chiefs
My brain works in weird ways. I was recently listening to a podcast where the character of Armus, the black tar monster from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was mentioned. As big a Trekkie as I am, that was not my first thought when I heard that name. No, my brain went right to Superman: The Movie.
Detective Armus, aka Officer 1
In the movie, Ned Beatty's Otis is tracked by Officers 1 & 2 (according to the credits), but we know them to be Armus and Harry. They follow Otis into Grand Central Terminal* and as Harry continues down to the tracks, Armus goes out to call for back-up. Harry, as you remember, was killed by Luthor by being thrown in front of a train. Armus finds his hat not much after that.

I couldn't find anything on naming conventions for either character, but since "Skin of Evil" came out 10 years after Superman: The Movie, I'm going to guess that there might be a connection between the two. We geeks tend to like putting references in where very few other people will catch them.

* The name is, actually, Grand Central Terminal, not Station. That is because all trains stop, that is terminate their runs, at Grand Central. If they passed through it would be a Station, but it is, in fact, a Terminal. (And anal-retentive is hyphenated.)

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Yet Another Filler

I fully intended to have a post ready for today, but life got real hectic real quick, so I have to beg off another week. In the mean time, enjoy Disney's "The Song of the South" courtesy of Archive.org.




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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pain



Pain is what I've experienced recently, as my friends on Facebook already know. I managed to sprain my left ankle on Friday and, as such, I haven't been able to sit at a computer. So, no (real) post this week. Sorry about that. Hopefully I'll have something for you next week.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Magic Highways USA

I got REALLY busy this past week and haven't had a chance to write anything coherent. So, in place of that, I give you a classic episode of the Disneyland TV Series, Magic Highways USA. It's really quite interesting to watch and see just how much they got right, or at least close.



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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Stealth Crossovers


Notice something about these two pictures? Yes, the art style isn't the same, but they look like the same character, don't they? The one on the left is Frederick Foswell, obviously from Spider-Man comics, and he appeared in the early run on Amazing. The one on the right is Sam Foswell from the 90's Superman books.

I love when stuff like this happens in comics. To those in the know, it's a great nod to the competition's characters. To the casual reader, it's just another character. This happens more often then the average reader might think, too. If you know where to look, primarily in crowd scenes, you'll be able to see the other company's characters.

For more on Sam Foswell, listen to the From Crisis to Crisis episodes covering the early 90's. For more on Fredrick Foswell, check out Amazing Spider-Man Classics.

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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

Streaming

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

Petless

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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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Guest Appearances

My dad recently asked me how to find my podcasts, so I sent him the links. I also told him that I did a lot of guest appearances, but I couldn't get him those links, since they're spread out over a lot of places. That got me to thinking, just what shows have I been a guest on? After a little research, here's the list.

Just to get it out of the way, I can technically be heard on every episode of Jaig Eyes and Jedi & The Bad Advice Show, since I'm the opening announcer for those shows. This list, though, are just the episode where you can hear me discuss things.

Date
Network
Show
Episode
7/6/2014
7/20/2014
12/27/2014
4/8/2015
4/22/2015
4/23/2015
5/24/2015
8/3/2015
8/11/2015
8/24/2015
9/7/2015
10/10/2015
10/17/2015
10/24/2015
10/31/2015
11/23/2015
12/14/2015
12/18/2015
Various
2/3/2016
5/16/2016
6
6/2/2016
7
6/14/2016
8
6/28/2016
6/28/2016
9
7/10/2016
7/29/2016
8/10/2016
8/25/2016
9/4/2016
9/6/2016
9/7/2016
9/21/2016
9/24/2016
9/26/2016
10/18/2016
11/11/2016
12/7/2016
12/16/2016
12/18/2016
2/16/2017
4/2/2017
4/22/2017
4/30/2017
5/13/2017
6/8/2017
6/9/2017
Quarter Bin Podcast

You know, I seem to be on a lot of shows. Not that I'm complaining, of course. ;)

I should also point out that there are going to be more added to this list in the near future. I'll be on Episode 100 - Part 3 for the Quarter Bin Podcast and I'll be on a special episode on Fire & Water. The QBP has been recorded and should be out very soon, while I have just recorded the F&W episode last night.

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