Weekend Update – 2013.01.06

For the first time in months I got a weekend off. We took an impromptu trip to visit some family members and just relax; no alarm clocks, no animals, no distractions. Had a nice drive down in and around some mountains (actually got to use my V8 a bit). Today, watched the weather go from sunny and cold, to rainy and warmer, to hailing. Watched a bit of sports with the family today. The Redskins made me a bit sad; as did Indianapolis. Can’t wait to see how the Broncos do in the next couple weeks. Watched them try to play golf on Maui; felt really bad when the ball was moving around the green and falling off the tee for some people. Wrote out an entire proposal and production plan for a new video game I hope to complete in a few months. And now on to a fun week!

2013 Gaming Backlog

As any good gamer who spends some money helping out people that are willing to be in the Steam Holiday Sale I have a large backlog of computer, console, and (not related to Steam) board games. For the last couple years I’ve been putting things like playing music, leaving the house, spending time with my wife and cats, and other such things ahead of gaming. What gaming time I did have was going to MMO’s and other competitive games. At this point in time I’m getting less satisfaction from those games types and more from picking up the controller connected to my tower, or booting up my PS3 to see what is free this month, playing those games for a few minutes to make some progress and get on with my day. Before the giant list is created I’d like to talk about what getting through a backlog means for me.

When I go to play a game it’s not always about “beating” the game; more than likely it’s about enjoying the game. Some games I play just for the mechanics (RTS, Rogue-like, some FPS, sports, racing), some for the story (RPGs, action or turn based), some for the unified experience, some for nostalgia, or just to check out what every one else has been talking about. There’s definitely a set of games that can’t really be beaten at all, things like city simulators or online only games. Then there’s some games that are really just about a single gimmick and once you’ve mastered it the game becomes either lifeless or you finally get to enjoy the game and not struggle with the gimmick. All that to prep this statement: this isn’t a list of games I want to beat, just a list I want to enjoy. It’s taken me a long time to get to understand that idea; I’ve spent most of my life in the “must beat everything on the hardest difficulty” camp.

With that out of the way, here’s the list! Many of these games I’ve started but had to abandon half way through (Borderlands, Trine, and the Valve games are the biggest culprits of that). In a future article I’ll talk about MMO and MOBA goals, and in another one I’ll touch on time management to get all of this done, work, go out with my wife, and play bass trombone three days a week!

2013 Backlogged Video Games to Play List in No Real Order:

Writing Template

I’ve been using a modified writing template form a few sources, but the Evernote section comes from here.

I would venture that a lot of writers follow similar steps; especially those that have been using blogging software for a long time (I used to use MarsEdit, too). But the straight up template and my variations have actually helped me out a lot. To that end I’ve uploaded said template to this server should anyone else wish to use it. Currently I have seven (7) other articles that I’m working on based on the same template; and when they’re done they will move to my archive notebook in Evernote and all will be well and clean.

Django: Basic Template Tags

One of things I had the hardest time finding was a good example of Template Tags in Django; so here is my basic template tags file I add to every new project (GPLv2). A lot of people have their own, and I’m sure in the future I’ll add on to my basics; but for now these get me by. One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is write a good small primer for beginning Django, consider this my first foray in to making that a reality.

from django import template
from django.template import Variable, VariableDoesNotExist
register = template.Library()
def gVal(object, attr):
    """Check the array, dict, etc for a value"""
    quasai = { 'object' : object }
    #print "gVal :: " + str(attr) +" - "+ str(quasai)
        value = Variable('object.%s' % attr).resolve(quasai)
    except VariableDoesNotExist:
        value = None
    return value
def xVal(a,b):
    """Since Python resolves left to right in template tags: pass value and then the dick to check; returns value or 0"""
    #print "xVal",a,b
    if b.has_key(a):
        value = b[a]
        value = "0"
    return value
def hexVert(value):
    """Removes all values of # from the given string and replaces with %23"""
    if value != None:
        value = value.replace("#", '%23')
        value = value.replace("!", '%21')
        value = value.replace("&", '%26')
    return value

Zealotry in Sports

Around the world sports have almost become a religion for some people. From Soccer (football) to baseball, from rugby to eSports (like StarCraft II), people have certain sports they care about more than others. It’s usually not the spot itself that gets the fanatic, zealous following; it’s the teams playing them.

Here in the United States of America we have three major spots, 2 almost major sports, an extreme sports following, and many other types of recreational activities that are monitized and organized in to leagues. To leave myself room to focus on other sports down the road (rugby, eSports, soccer, MLS, NHL, etc) I’ll be focusing on the “big three” here in the USA: football, baseball, and basketball. Before delving in to the specific sports I’d like to start on more ethereal level as to why I route for certain teams and how that leads to me picking a team in a new sport (or variation of said sport, like minor leagues and NCAA).

Top priority goes to local teams; if there’s a local team in a championship of some kind I will cheer them on; doesn’t matter the sport or activity. The caveat for such things comes with teams I like because of: someone on the team or how the team plays. Brett Favre, Wally Joyner, and Charles Woodson are some of the first that come to mind. Then again there are some teams that I just can’t enjoy; like the Giants (SF or NY). Sometimes there’s not a local team, so I’ll go with the closest one I actually like (more on that when I hit the NHL in a future post). If a local team, my favorite team, or a team I generally like doesn’t make the playoffs for a sport I’ll go with another team in the conference; if they beat out my team then they should obviously be the best in the league, right?! Some complications do arise in that I tend to like one team from each league, conference, division, etc within an organized sport. There’s the AFC and NFC for football, American and National Leagues for baseball, etc. That said, I tend to follow the same logic for each conference, but one I care about more than the others.

Generic cheering priority: Favorite Team > Random Team = Local Team = Player’s Team > Conference Team


When it comes to football I’m a Raider’s fan. They were in LA when I was a kid, and when I got really in to football as an almost young adult they were one of the most exciting teams to watch. If the Raider’s aren’t in the playoffs I’ll first route for the 49ers (favorite NFC team) and then any team in the AFC West, so this year go Broncos! I should mention that my wife is a Charger’s fan, so at least twice a year we don’t sit on the couch watching football together…

Raiders >> 49ers >> Steelers = Chargers > Broncos = Chiefs > Everyone Else

…there’s a more “complicated” matrix in the “Everyone Else” category, but it’s greatly in flux these days, which I’m sure will spur a similar article ahead of next season.


In the past I’ve liked other teams as my favorite players moved on to other teams. At this point though, it’s all about the Los Angeles teams; even the one that isn’t in Los Angeles.

Angels > Dodgers > Everyone Else > Giants


My brother is the bigger basketball fan, I was in the early 90’s but then got in to Soccer and Rugby. I keep this one simple.

Lakers > Clippers > Everyone Else

College Sports

Since the college I went to isn’t in the NCAA it makes my list a little skewed. I’ve been a UCLA fan since I was a little kid and high school ruined any chance of me enjoying USC. Most football seasons I’m pretty neutral for the first couple weeks, then I start picking who I really like and want to win (besides UCLA) from there. Basketball and other sports I’m a little more stringent on…

UCLA > University of Arizona = Air Force > Everyone Else

Every new beginning…

Greetings and welcome to this, the innumerable time I try to get myself to write more and keep to it. In the now over 15 years I’ve spent writing things for various website and incarnations of my own “blog” like platforms I’ve realized a few things; chief among them that when I first started writing I was beyond horrible, I’ve now creeped up to just horrible. I’ve built up a very large archive of drivel that I don’t really wish on anyone, though from time to time I may “republish” a post or story.

I’ve gone through several blog titles in the past: tks (the kitchen sink), peanut gallery, blog, musing in a half shell, etc. The original idea behind “tks” was to comment on the things I didn’t see other people talking about; everyone else talked about everything “except” the kitchen sink, or so the sang goes. I came to find that I didn’t always have time for such things and instead it turned in to random musings. This time I’ll keep the name for personal nostalgia, but with a very different purpose. This time the cliche of “write what you know” is more guiding my steps.

To be clear, this is not a New Year’s resolution of some kind, though it is coming at that time of year. My current job has been given me many days off during this holiday season, giving me time to catch up in other areas of my life and allow me the luxury of figuring out things I’d like to do going forward. To that end there are a few things I’d like to cover in my writings going forward:
Programing code & design
Trombone playing & philosophy
Gaming- digital, analog, design & implementation
Writing- musings on other and short stories of my own
Socio Political issues (not politics)
Physical Activity- my own and others

In the day and age of personal “branding” when looking for a job, or even when trying to be an authority on a subject, some of these topics/ideas may be inflammatory and damaging in some people’s eyes: oh well, my apologies. They might as well know now what my views are instead of three months in to a job that I’ve budgeted for six months, costing me said job.

For an overview post 432 words isn’t really all that many; and it’s easy to do on a day when there are no other real distractions. The real test is going to be int six months: am I still posting daily, weekly, semi-weekly, monthly, at all? Only time will tell.