Stuff I Like.


Calvin & Hobbes / Bill Watterson

Calvin & Hobbes is the greatest comic I've ever read. A beautiful mix of humor, commentary on society, childhood nostalgia, contrast of cynicism and idealism, some wholesome moments, all the good stuff. Watterson's artwork is rightly famous for its quality.

As I eventually started learning about Watterson himself he become one of my heroes. Introvert, recluse, brilliant comic artist, never sold the soul of his work for money even though he could have easily made millions. Both the fans and his syndicate begged him to merchandise, but he didn't want to risk the integrity of his work. (And who knows what other reasons he might have had?) He ended his comic on a high rather than drive it as long as possible and into the ground (looking at you, Garfield/Jim Davis). Being so infamously reclusive and always avoiding publicity or interviews, there's plenty we don't know about him. However, what we do know (and conjecture) does inspire me and has very much earned my respect.

Privacy

You can demand personal privacy without having "something to hide." Why do you have curtains or blinds on your windows? Why do you close the door when you use the bathroom? Why do you have a password on your email account? I'm not trying to hide any shady activity; sometimes I just want to be left alone to do my own thing in peace, without other people watching or judging or building data profiles to market stuff to me. It's okay to want privacy or a sanctuary that isn't made public. The stuff I do want to share, I'll share on my own initiative. Like on this website!

World of Warcraft (mostly vanilla)

I haven't played it in many years, but I won't deny the joy it brought me and the amount of love I have for the Warcraft world and so many of the characters and stories in it. The vast majority of my playtime was in vanilla, starting on launch day and braving the early full server errors and eventually getting to level 60 as a human paladin so I could go try and cleanse the Plaguelands and start reclaiming some of Lordaeron. I was definitley a filthy casual and rarely did dungeons, let alone raids. I just enjoyed the casual game and running around with my guild members doing whatever. I quit before Burning Crusade, and a good while later (Warlords of Draenor, I think?) I reactivated briefly just so I could go kick Arthas' trash over in Icecrown Citadel - something I'd wanted to do since Warcraft 3. I took a screenshot of Frostmourne on the ground after I defeated Arthas and then logged out and canceled my account again without even leaving that dungeon instance. The bucket list item had been checked - 1 defeated traitorous paladin turned Lich King

The early stuff was so good. The Defias, the Westfall Militia, all the creepy stuff in Duskwood that was scary but not all world-ending-scenario horrors, the misguided Scarlet Crusade, that whole line of stuff with the people trying to reclaim some of the Burning Steppes (I think it was that zone, anyway) to start a new kingdom ... stuff that was interesting on a relatable level and was possible to get personally invested in so much more than just facing whatever the next cosmic horror bent on taking over/destroying the world was. (Or the afterlife. Ugh.) There's just no real personal investment in saving the entire world/cosmos time and time again. Of course we're going to do it, it's not like we're going to refuse and let the world get blown up. Learning about the origins of the Defias and their goals was interesting, and you could sympathize with them. They still needed to be stopped, but you could see how the might have ended up as what they were. Helping the Westfall Militia stop them, or trying to go fight and reclaim some of Lordaeron from the undead scourge, was so much more interesting to me than stopping the next godlike creature in line taking a crack at ending/enslaving the world.

Carl Sagan

He did such a great job sharing his love and passion for science in a way that people could understand. I particularly appreciate that he never really got sassy or mocked people or spoke condescendingly. He certainly had things he didn't like, but he was quite good at remaining respectful and tactful when he disagreed with something or wanted people to question things like pseudo-sciences and the like. I feel like that's going to be much more effective at sharing knowledge and alternative points of view than when people like Dawkins or Tyson try to "dunk on the dumbs". The latter is only going to impress the people you've already convinced and make the people who you're trying to convince become more defensive rather than more receptive. It's hurting the cause of getting more people to explore and consider science, not helping it.

Coding

There's something so freeing about coding. The ability to have an idea and then make it happen. It's both fun and empowering. My preferred language is Python. I had done web development with HTML and limited PHP and Javascript before, but Python is what I dove into when I wanted to do something beyond webpages. My first major project was a MUD (text-based online game) called CLOK and I had an incredible amount of fun making it.

Lord of the Rings

I already mentioned this over on the favorites page , but here it is again. My wife and I both had rings from the movies for our engagement rings, and we named one of our kids after a character (albeit a minor one). Tolkien invested so much into his world that it's just a joy to dive into with all its lore and wonders. It was great to see Peter Jackson help share Tolkien's word with the world so well, though I do occasionally begrudge seeing images from the movies on book covers and such. I get that it's marketing, but I'd prefer to let the books be the books and the movies be the movies.

Root Beer

Best drink around, and so many types to try. My favorite of the "common" brands are Barq's and A&W. Mug tastes too much like licorice. Also a fan of birch beers and ginger ales and such.

Firefly

Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand. Just the right amount of rebellious spirit and defiance of forced progress. Some people just want to live their way on their own, thanks. Also mentioned on the favorites page .

Sidewalk Surfing

I didn't grow up skating, and I don't consider myself a "skater". I had some skater friends back in high school but I never went out skating with them. In fact, I only took it up just before the ripe old age of 40. While I can't do any fancy tricks, I still love going out and skating around, especially with my kids. It's fun, it's good exercise, it's great bonding time with those you go with (even the cat enjoys going out with us), and for me in particular it proves that old dogs actually can learn some new tricks.

My current board is a Magneto Kicktail Cruiser Longboard (on the left in the above image). It's been a great old man board - easy to keep my balance on, rolls real smooth and keeps the momentum going better than smaller boards, even if there's less control. I used my kid's board and I feel like I'm going to kill myself with how quick it turns.

Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey had a lot of flaws. He even loved pointing them out himself, which was somehow a part of his charm. There's plenty about both him and his writing that I dislike, but he had a passion for environmentalism and a love for the American Southwest deserts in particular that I share. His book Desert Solitaire is one of my all-time favorites. I struggled with Monkey Wrench Gang and actually put it down once and had to pick it up later when I felt I was in a better mood to get through it, but its message of environmental activism resonated with me and it made me want to go out and sabotage some construction equipment. Having a work of fiction that serves as a field guide to sabotaging industrial equipment/development efforts with step-by-step instructions at parts is hilarious and just the kind of rebellious I can get behind.

The man was an endless font of quotes about environmentalism, critique of aggressive progress and the more absurd parts of society, simple non-theistic spirituality, and a general cynical cantankerousness regarding the significant chunk of his fellow man that he disagreed with.

The American Southwest

I grew up in the suburbs of Southern California, but I can't exactly say I'm in love with the concrete and cul-de-sacs of suburbia. I credit a lot of my love of the American Southwest to the many camping trips I went on as a Boy Scout. Joshua Tree and Yosemite were particular favorites. I also went on a trip to the Grand Canyon that I consider one of my all-time favorite life experiences.

National Parks

America's greatest idea: Preserving some patches of the wilderness. Granted, some are still getting a bit over-developed in the interest of tourism money. Yay, capitalism.

The Muppets

Wholesome and hilarious at the same time. It always blows me away how widely-acknowledged they are and how well they just fit right in alongside humans, even appearing on several major shows in interviews and the like. It's difficult to choose a favorite, but I might have to just be basic and say Kermit, though I've always really liked Rowlf and Scooter as well.

Mr. Rogers

The man just exuded kindness and acceptance as well as a passion for learning about the world around us as well. He'll always be an inspiration and a role model to me, even if I realize I'll never be exactly like him. After all, he did love to say that he loved us just the way we were. He wasn't trying to turn us into something we weren't, he was just encouraging a little more acceptance of feelings and kindness and understanding for each other.

Care Bears

I was raised on the original run of Care Bears. I enjoyed the earliest version the most, with Professor Coldheart as the primary villain. (Try and tell me his intro song wasn't catchy.) It might not have been one of the cool kids' shows but I enjoyed seeing how all the different bears had their own unique ways of assisting people in acknowledging their feelings and working through more realistic issues in life that didn't involve action sequences and beating up baguys. The original Care Bear movie still manages to hit me in the feels a few times even now.

My favorite bear has always been Tenderheart Bear. He was the guy who got everyone organized and got things done. He was the heart of the team and the glue that kept them all together. He was also the realist of the bunch and even got frustrated every now and then at the hyperfocus some of the other bears would have on their own particular feelings. (No, Birthday Bear, throwing a party is not the solution to literally everything.) That he was demoted to an occasional extra in the latest reboot of the show is one of the few flaws I canfind with the reboot. Runner-up favorite was Secret Bear, who didn't show up until later. I appreciate that they included Grumpy Bear, and through him the show acknowledges that grumpiness is a feeling that should be accepted and acknolwedged along with all the other "nice" feelings. Sometimes you really do "just need a good grump", to quote Oldschool Original Episode version of Grumpy.

I haven't gone back and re-watched any of the old Care Bears stuff except for the original debut episode and the original movie, so a lot of this may be rose-tinted glasses and all that. My own kids did watch the later reboots though and I thought they were really well-done. (Minus demoting Tenderheart practically out of the show. I get it, try a new leader this time around, but did you really have to shove him completely off-screen minus a few cameos?) I like to think that the Care Bears were a good influence on me, and I still have a Tenderheart button on my backpack to remind me of the lessons they taught me and to inspire me to try and keep my feelings and those of others in mind.