Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wild Wild Western Halloween

Just a quick note regarding Halloween. Ever since Santa retreated into the realm of myth, Halloween has been my favorite holiday. I have this pre-Halloween ritual where I pick a Halloween-appropriate movie (typically The Nightmare Before Christmas or more recently Sleepy Hollow) and carve one or more pumpkins. Maybe it's my lingering gothic sensibility, but I can't enough of the Halloween mood. I wear more black than usual, I listen to gothic music that I haven't touch for months, I tramp through fallen leaves, and I read spooky stories.

This year I was able to really introduce my oldest son to the pleasures of Halloween. He was here for the last two, but was far too young to really appreciate them (even though last year's costume - a little devil - embodied the holiday in a way that seemed more appropriate). In addition to an amazing trip to the pumpkin patch at Cox Farms, we allowed Finley to pick out his own costume. Of course, being absolutely bat-shit horse crazy (thanks to pony rides at the Maryland Renaissance Festival) he picked a horse costume where he is both horse and rider. Cool costume, though way to cumbersome for my tastes. Still it was a big hit and he had a ball trick-or-treating. His brother, appropriately enough, was a cow. Here are some pictures:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Catching Up

And here I thought that having a new computer in a clean office (my "cave") would give me more time to blog. Alas, my iTunes rating didn't transfer (funny -- comments and other info did) and I've been waaay too distracted rearranging my image library for iPhoto's Event-based system. In addition to regular photos, I have literally thousands of gaming-related images that I have scanned or ripped off the Internet in recent year. To all copyright police --  I use them inspiration for my games and for the occasional player handout (and maybe an image or two for my neglected websites).

Where was I?

I yes, it's been a while since I blogged. In my last post, I mentioned that we had another double gaming session coming up. Well, we had it and it was fabulous. My Dragonspire game was good, but Greg's season finale of Slaying Solomon was amazing. I simply can't recall ever having such a powerful gaming experience as a player. Emotions we running high in Nazi world. I was starting to tear up when I mentioned that Erik would be showing up at Juanita's door with flowers at the end of the episode. Slaying Solomon is one of those special games where the characters take on a life of their own. They go waaaay  beyond the combat stats you see in most games. The characters are defined by their quirks and relationships. Powers and abilities are definitely secondary. I can't wait for the upcoming 5th season. Greg's running the main arc, but I will definitely be directing several episodes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On My Own

The wife and kids are in Michigan for another week or so and I've been scrambling to complete a long list of "honey do's". These are mostly husbandly tasks that have slipped for a variety reasons (such as completing the second nursery) due to the numerous distractions of family obligations. While my wife is mostly happy to be spending time with relatives in Michigan, I know she's going to expect that I get some work done as payment for my having three weeks without having to help with the kids.

That being said, I'm also taking the opportunity to catch up on some personal stuff. Last Saturday, we had a double gaming session with Dragonspire in the afternoon and Slaying Solomon in the evening. We'll repeat this extraordinarily rare full day of gaming next Saturday as well. It's good to be gaming again, though I do wish I had yet more time to devote to it. I had high hopes for lots of down-time to plan future adventures and campaigns. Alas, with all my other activities, that ain't gonna happen.

One of those other activities is assembling my new basement office and adjusting to a new computer. Yes, I just ordered a new iMac today. Hopefully, it will arrive in time for me to play around with it before the family gets home. It sure is a beautiful machine. And with Boot Camp, I should have no loss of PC functionality. I'm hoping to high heaven that I can get the sucker online with minimal fuss, as I still need to spend time on getting our web photo gallery working as well. Sigh... I'm not looking forward to that mess.

Finally, I had hoped to get a lot of gym time in. Alas, Finley gifted me with yet another nasty cold just as I returned to Virginia. Now that I seem to be on the mend, I'll try to resume my workouts tomorrow.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

So Much for Vacation

Ok, that big trip to Hilton head that I was so excited about turned out to be real disappointment. It is hard to do long car trips with young children, but we knew this going in. What we didn't expect is that we wouldn't have any time to ourselves down there to swim in the ocean, sip foofy drinks by the pool, or take long walks on the beach. Uh uh. No way. Our kids weren't going to allow it and out relatives had too much on their plates to give us a break. As it turned out, we spent most of the trip cooped up inside watching the toddler watch TV. We did make to the pool a few times, but our one attempt to hang out at the beach was an absolute disaster. I was totally afraid that someone would call child services due to one of the most inconvenient toddler tantrums that we have yet experienced.

Fortunately, we managed to spend some quality time with Professor Pope and his family on the way back. Unfortunately, my wife, oldest son, and myself all came down with seriously nasty colds on the final leg of the drive. We're still recovering right now. Thank goodness that the infant was spared.

So here I am trying to adjust to going back to work after not really having much of a vacation. And instead of focusing on work, I'm thinking about what computer to buy after events have forced me into purchasing a new one about 3 months earlier than I anticipated. I had previously stated that I had had it with Dells. My current Inspiron laptop has been nothing but problems. But the more I price out options, the more I am leaning towards a new Inspiron model. They are highly rated, they are the right price, and they have all the specs that I need. I had considered switching teams to buy a Mac, but I'm having a hard time convincing myself that the added expense and hassle of installing Boot Camp will be worth it. I haven't ruled it out yet, but it's looking less and less likely.

Update: friends have been giving me more reasons to select a Mac (the fact that I already own a license of Windows XP is one). We'll see...

I know it's probably stupid, but the proposed D&D 4e Game Table is kind of driving my decision. The few games that I want to play are generally available on the Mac. I wouldn't have to retain my ties to the PC world if it weren't for the fact that I think that Game Table has the potential to be a sweet tool. Of course, it could easily blow chunks and leave me afflicted with bad case of buyers remorse (the most likely scenario).

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Water Bottles

Ok, I've totally been on an anti-bottled water kick lately. I must have reach some kind of tipping point because I'm now kind of sickened by the wastefulness of buying something that is essentially free in a package that seriously harms the environment. My wife and I have certainly been guilty of the wastefulness (especially on car trips and such). Part of simply came down to the convenience of having an container available to drink the stuff. Sure, I have a Nalgene bottle for hiking in my basement somewhere. But I don't like drinking out of it, mostly because the opening is too big and I imagine the water tasting differently when it has been sitting in plastic for a while.

So I was very pleased to discover these totally awesome reusable aluminum water bottles. I'm hoping that having a practical and stylish water bottle will help me kick the plastic bottle habit AND drink more water (something I desperately need to do anyway).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Missing GenCon

GenCon Indy is this weekend and I'm a little bummed, especially since I'm missing my long lost (due to baby) EN World friends and all the D&D 4e madness. Instead I'll be spending the week with the family in Hilton Head. Since I'll be visiting my good friend Professor Pope on the way back, I'll get my D&D fix talking with him. And D&D 4e won't be released until next year anyway.

Actually, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the new edition. I wasn't much of a D&D fan until Third Edition came along. But I've got over my anti-D&D bias and have learned welcome our Munchkin overlords. Fourth Edition may improve the game. It may even introduce some really kick-ass tools to facilitate player over the Internet. The economics of it bother me a bit, and I'm a bit annoyed at the prospect of shelling out for yet another set of rulebooks.

Anyway, I suspect I'll be blogging more on 4e in the future.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Second Child = Big crunch

Just as I was starting to get the hang of balancing the rearing of one child with my own health, personal interests, and professional development, along comes a second child to make everything that much harder. I used to complain about the difficulty finding time to blog, role play, program, and play computer games. Now, I look back and wish I had it that easy. At least until little Liam gets a little older, I simply cannot imagine that I'll have any significant personal time in coming months.

My weekday schedule is such that I wake up (bleary eyed), throw on workout clothes, get Finn dressed and washed, and pop him in the car. After dropping him off at day care, I head to the gym for a brief workout and then get home with barely enough time to catch a shower before work. Breakfast is luxury and I've been forced to rely on energy bars to get me through the morning. After work, I need to pick up Finn from daycare and fight the parkway traffic to get us home for dinner by 6:30ish. By the time we eat and get the kids ready for bed, it is now 9:00 and I'm too exhausted to even turn on my computer. Mostly I just settle down and read a few chapters in a book before I conk out. Not much luck on weekends either, mostly because the kids still demands too much attention.

My weekend schedule is little better, though for different reasons. I suppose I could steal away for a few hours here and there for small projects. The problem is that weekends are prime time for spending time with my boys (which I'm not about to give up). I suppose I could steal an hour or two here or there, but lately it has been impossible due to a backlog of house projects. I still need to paint Liam's room, for example...

Anyway, I hate to complain too much. I'm starting to settle in to the new lifestyle. I'm too happy being a father of two awesome boys to be bitter about my missing personal time. Instead of complaining, I'm going to try to work within the confines of my tight schedule to work on things that really matter. Whereas I'd usually start a new project on a whim, I now find myself critically examining potential endeavors for how much joy they can bring me. And fortunately, it does look like I'll be resuming gaming in a few weeks. I'm going let other direct episodes of Slaying Solomon until I feel that I can find enough time to write new episodes and I do hope to restart Dragonspire in September.

Where does that leave the blog? Well, my hope is that I can find time to blog more often (and about topics other than my tight schedule). I'm crossing my fingers. At the top of my priority list, however, is getting my photo album running again. I'm experiencing some technical difficulties which would normally take several hours to resolve (if I had several hours to dedicate to the problem). Once that is accomplished, I have a mess of new photos of the kids to post.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

On the Subject of Retrotech...

The Golden Compass comes out in December and I cannot wait. Hands down, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series has been my favorite read in the last several years. It's not everyone's thing, but his world just really, really resonated with me. It's not quite steampunk, but it does have wonderfully evocative retrotech, alternate earth feel. More importantly, I was really taken by the story and the individualistic (anti-authoritarian/religious) themes. Most importantly... armored polar bears!

The latest trailer really fills me with hope that this will be the next Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Retrotech Jackpot

I humbly beseech you to navigate your cyberspacial conveyance to this article over at Wired. The images of such exquisitely crafted anachronisms moved me to break by blogging fast. Oh, if I only had the time to create such Wellsian wonders myself. In my own "Steam-Driven Dreams", I imagine a wood-paneled study in my home outfitted with The Steampunk Monitor and Keyboard as well as other wonders (perhaps the hand-crafted Rayguns produced by Weta). I may have to add Brass Goggles and Steampunk Magazine to my daily perusal of electornically distributed periodicals.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Welcome Liam Andrew

I'd like to announce the birth of our second child, Liam Andrew. This cell-phone photo (alas, covering up his red hair) will have to do until the photo album is fixed and we can upload our real digital camera pictures.

Christy's water broke at around 4:00 last Friday morning. Bleary eyed, I wondered why she was making so much noise. She casually explained that she was getting her stuff together to go to the hospital. Whoa! Of course, I hadn't packed my pack yet and I started to panic. We also had our first-born to deal with. Thankfully, Christy's mother is in town and we were able to have her watch the boy most of the day.

We arrived at the hospital just after 7:00 and were expecting to have an easy delivery like last time. We ordered up the epidural and things were progressing just fine. Then, after the epidural and after a high dose of Patosin... things really kicked up. Bad news: Christy's meds didn't work at all and she was in enormous pain. Good news: it was all over by 10:33.

Stats: 7 lbs 11 oz, 20.5 inches long, red hair, blue eyes, and a perfect 10 on his APGAR. Mommy and baby are doing fine. Baby's big brother is a little confused but not nearly so confused as he's going to be in the coming weeks. Daddy's still trying to kick a cold that he's had for two weeks (the lack of sleep won't be helping).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Photos Down

The Photo Album is down until I complete the upgrade to Gallery 2. Hopefully, it will be back in a few days.

Netflix: A Parent's Best Friend

The baby has prevented us from going to movies as much as we used to. Fortunately, there is always Netflix. Our recent viewing: Borat (wickedly funny), Casino Royale (best Bond is a *long* time), and Children of Men. Children of Men may be my favorite movie of 2006 and I wish I actually saw it at the theaters. It was brilliant. The movie was technically amazing (long-take chase scenes!) and emotionally riveting. As new and expecting parents, we were on the edge of our seats for the entire second half of the movie. If you've seen the film then you know why.

Passion For Music

Last week my wife and I were able to attend our first concert since the fall. This time, it was Lisa Gerard at the Birchmere. My wife had never seen her perform, whereas I has seen her once on her own (at a fantastically atmospheric show in an ancient Georgetown lecture hall) and once with Dead Can Dance. We missed the chance to catch the Dead Can Dance reunion tour in 2005, due to the birth of our first child. But both of us are big fans of their music (though, perhaps I am a bigger fan). Lisa Gerard and Dead Can Dance have been off my radar for a while, mostly because of a lack of new material. But perhaps it is also because I just haven't had as much time of late to really sit down and listen to their music like I used to. In the 90's, I fondly recall how often I'd turn down the lights and let the music of Dead Can Dance (and similar artists) transport me to other worlds. It's sad that I don't do that as much these days. I blame time pressures and sharing a house with others.

The concert was fantastic, though I have mixed feeling about the Birchmere as a venue for this particular show. On the plus side: my pregnant wife could keep off her feet during the show, the view was great, and there was no smoking. On the minus side: the road-house atmosphere detracted (slightly) from Lisa's otherworldly appeal. As as for Lisa herself... wow, fantastic as always. Though I must say I was surprised how meek her speaking voice is (especially when compared to the power of her singing voice). 

Friday, April 27, 2007

Keeping Up With Technology

While waiting in the doctor's office this morning, I flipped through a somewhat recent edition of PC Gamer. It made me almost heartsick to think that I haven't had the opportunity to play computer games recently. In fact, I think it has been about three years since I've played anything. I'm totally out of the loop on the latest in games and game technology and, oddly, I believe my career suffers as a result. You see, computer games are one of the primary drivers for my enthusiasm for technology. When I geek out on computer games, I feel motivated to learn new technology and feel inspired to become a better software engineer. But I haven't pursued one single personal technology project in years. This worries me greatly. I'd hate to see my skills degrade or become obsolete.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to remedy the situation. Family life and family budgets both conspire to keep me from purchasing a new computer or gaming console. While I could probably squeeze it into the budget, other priorities would suffer. And even if I did buy a new gaming platform, when would I use it? The reality is simply that all my free time is spoken for. My only hope is that I'll be playing a lot more games when my boys are old enough to play them with me.

In other news, I've noticed some particularly interesting news from the world of science and technology...

Practical Holographic Video: By the time I start playing computer games again, this technology may be a reality. Not every game would benefit from such a display, but the idea of playing something like R2, 3PO, and Chewbacca played in the original Star Wars seem too cool for words.

Earthlike Planet Found: Space.com has an article about a possible habitable exoplanet found orbiting Gliese 581 C. It's only 4 times as large as Earth and seems to be in the narrow zone where liquid water is possible. The fact that is orbits a red dwarf is especially exciting because there are so many more red giants than yellow suns like our own. It dramatically opens up the possibility of aliens life existing somewhere out there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thank You Boston

I have returned from a long and very hard trip to Boston. Yes, I completed my first (and probably only) Boston Marathon. Before I get into the gory details, I'd like to give my most heartfelt thanks to the people of Boston. The Richmond Marathon bills itself as "America's Friendliest Marathon". After this weekend, I'd have to say that the Boston Marathon gives them a run for their money. Despite some seriously adverse conditions, the people of Boston never wavered in their hospitality and the race went off without a hitch. Every effort was made to make runners comfortable in the nasty weather and after the race, I was congratulated by countless random citizens on the street. Thank you Boston, you made a tough race a wonderful experience.

As for the race itself... well, it was humbling. The night before, with every sign that we'd be blasted by severe rains, biting cold, and impossible headwinds, I resolved to just enjoy myself and treat it as a race against mother nature. This continued to be my attitude throughout the long and uncomfortable pre-race period. But when it came time for the race, conditions improved enough to fool me into thinking that I could approach it with my seemingly realistic training goal of coming close to a 3 hour marathon.

Boy, was I in for a world of hurt.

My difficulties started with an extremely restless night of "sleep". I'm not sure why I was so nervous when I had resolved to take it easy, but I guess that I was just apprehensive about how painful the experience of running in these conditions could be. All night long, I heard the driving wind and pounding rain against the window. In the morning, I awoke to cold and damp. The bus ride out was comfortable and I was lucky enough to get a spot inside the high-school gym to keep dry. But their was limited space inside the gym and I didn't venture out to eat a proper pre-race meal. I'm certain that contributed to my difficulties.

There was also the issue of deciding on what to wear. Still feeling the morning's chill, I opted for tights and several layers of wicking long-sleeve shirts. I suspect that I was over-dressed, though it was probably the least of my problems. And after I stumbled across the finish line, I wished I had access to even warmed clothes right away.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the course, the race is a point-to-point race, starting in the western town of Hopkinton and descending for a good part of the race until a series of nasty hills starting around mile 16. This also proved to be my undoing. Running downhill fills one with a tremendous sense of overconfidence. Yes, I had heard all the pre-race advice to take it easy in the first half. But as the race started and I felt comfortable with an aggressive pace, I failed to consider how badly my leg muscles would be taking the strain of down-hill running. By the time time the uphill section it, my legs were already locking up.

So how did I do? I finished 5,776th among some 20,000 or so competitors. My time was 3:31:00, just over 16 minutes slower than my Richmond time. After the race, I felt bad about this. But then I saw that even the winner -- Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya was about 7 minutes off his winning time from last year. Lots of people were seriously impacted by the conditions and I am belatedly proud to note that I beat my expected finish (as indicated by my bib number) by 785. So, I'll take it. I finished in grueling conditions. And I am glad that I can move on to other challenges.

(what those challenges are remain undefined... I need to get through the birth of our second child before setting any more aggressive goals)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Post-Lent Update

Ok, Lent is done. That means I (sort of) have access to the Internet at work again. While I do do some occasional surfing now, I still feel funny about personal email and blogging from work, especially since my overlords purport to spy on my Internet usage. Not that I'm going to bad-mouth the overlords, but you never know what they'll find objectionable.

Speaking of Lent... it is kind of weird that I keep the tradition. The wife and I were raised Catholic, but neither of us attend Catholic mass unless we are home for the holidays with the extended family (and for me, I only do it because of social pressure). My wife has moved firmly into the liberal Episcopal camp. And while I like the liberal Episcopal politics, I'm still too agnostic to completely swallow the cool-aid. We'll be raising our sons in the Episcopal Church, but only by default. If I were religious, I think I'd prefer something with better rituals and traditions. The Catholic Church was great for that. As is Wicca, but I think that train has long since left on its last run to Hogwarts.

Since it's bee a while, I suppose an update is order.

On Monday, I am scheduled to run the Boston Marathon. I'm both excited and nervous. This is my third (and likely last) marathon training cycle. The first ended in injury before I could run. The second ended in bronchitis, but I still managed a good race anyway. This time, I've had no such ill-luck (knock on wood). I feel like I'm in great shape and I can't imagine being more prepared. Of course, anything could happen. I'm a little nervous since my little boy is going through his second bout of strep in three weeks. But I haven't got it yet, so perhaps I'll luck out and miss it.

Work is crazy. But I'm actually getting paid for the extra hours I work, so I can't complain too much. And I like the occasional crunch time. It makes me work more efficiently. I just wish that this crunch time was not at the same time as my race, my wife's travel season, and my little boy's illness.

Haven't done much gaming lately. We had a Dragonspire game... geez, over a month ago. I'm ready for the next one but finding time in the schedule's the hard part. Slaying Solomon is still going and I'm happy that other folks have taken over the director's chair while my schedule is so crazy. I wish I could be doing more gaming, but life is getting in the way. I can't wait until my boys are old enough for it, because I can use family time as an excuse for gaming (assuming the are interested). On that note, I can't wait until they start playing video games for much the same reason. I can't remember the last time I played a video game. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I've been in blog hibernation for a while. Work is totally crazy and since I gave up personal use of the Internet at work for Lent... well, it doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging. Today, though, I'm going to make an exception. A friend sent me link to best lightsaber fight EVER. These guys come very close to beating Lucas at his own game. I especially love how their lightsabers interact with their environment.

Check it out here: http://www.themovieblog.com/archives/2007/03/best_lightsaber_fight_ever.html

In other news, we saw 300 this weekend. Good movie. If I could sum it up in one word, that would be... "Nipples". The director obviously had nipples on the mind.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Internet Outage

This blog's been quiet for a while. The reason (besides my slacker ways and nasty schedules) is that my toddler's been messing with my DSL cables, causing a DSL modem failure and forcing me to talk to tech support in Indiana to get the whole thing back up and running again. At first, I thought it was the fact that my computer blue-screened for the upteenth million time, wiping out my network software. Looks like I was wrong on that count. But I'm still fed up with my computer (Dell Inspiron 9100). It's been nothing but trouble, even after wiping the hard drive and reinstalling Windows. I'm seriously considering getting a Mac (and soon).

Not much else going on. The weather's been hell on my marathon training, but it does look were heading for a melt soon.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dragonspire Continues

I haven't posted a Dragonspire update in a while, but the campaign is still going strong. After a short hiatus for the holidays, we are back and approaching the climax of the first story arc. I'm hoping to complete the second story arc before the arrival of my next baby. I'm guessing that session logs will be few and far between, given my crazy schedule. But I have posted updated characters for the players to verify their stats. Note the addition of a new gnome artificer to the party.

In other news, I've been going through old gaming books and I discovered some amazing tools in Grim Tales . I'm convinced that this book is the best set of D20 rules in existence. I'm looking forward to testing out vehicular combat in the next story arc and hope to include the excellent mass combat system from Slavelords of Cydonia at some point down the line.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Halloween Photos Up (Better Late Than Never)

We've been remiss in updating our photo album. Here are some shots from the Halloween season. I especially like this shot of our little devil.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Song of Fire and Ice

I believe that I recently mentioned my interest in George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. Well, given that reading is one of the few recreational activities that I can consistently find time for, I've finally made it to his most recent A Feast of Crows. The Last book, A Storm of Swords, took a long time to read. But the last half of the 1000+ page epic seemed to whip right by. Alas, I'm currently crawling through the new book, mostly because I haven't developed a stake in the new characters that he's introduced.

In related news, check out this item over at the Sci Fi Wire. Looks like HBO may make A Song Of Ice And Fire the next Deadwood. They are also making a series out of Vertigo's Preacher. Yippee. I can't wait to see how they turn out. Right now, my wife an I use most of our Netflix rentals on HBO series (and Battlestar Galactica). The quality is consistently better than most movies and we don't have to find more than 45 minutes of our busy schedule to watch an episode.

Friday, January 12, 2007

And They Say Sleep Deprivation Isn't Torture?

I beg to differ. The last two weeks have been hellish. Our toddler was sleeping just fine before the Christmas holidays. But after two weeks of irregular schedules and over excitement, he refused to sleep in his crib after we returned home. My wife and decided to buck up and fight him on it. The result is that (as of last night) he is now sleeping through the night again. Unfortunately, I've had almost two weeks with a serious lack of sleep. This has been doubly hard because I'm training for the Boston Marathon. My training has really suffered for it. Hopefully, I'll get back to that happy place in a week or so.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy 2007

We're back from "vacation". I hesitate to say "vacation", because it really is too much work. With all the driving and the visiting and driving and visiting. Not nearly enough time to chill out on personal stuff.

But it was fantastic to see friends and family again. Our son spent the first half of the trip in Faerie with a screaming Changeling in his place. But once he returned, he had a fine time with his cousins. He also got on well with the children of my high school friends. I can't wait for the inevitable (hopefully) father and child outings in the future.

Now, with the New Year here, I can start focusing on my resolutions. Besides training for the 2007 Boston Marathon (my last marathon, I swear), I hope to get on top of my schedule in preparation for th arrival of our second child. Learning to get by on less sleep with help. Also  I'm trying to figure out how I can get more time for gaming. That's face-to-face gaming ( Slaying Solomon and Dragonspire for a start), as well as computer gaming (haven't bought a computer game in ages).

Also high on the list: staying in touch with distant friends, eating better, and getting emergency preparation kits assembled for the house and car.

Oh yeah, I'd also like to return to my Chinese lessons and start a martial arts class. Something different from the whole focus on running.