5 Bullet Fridays


Tim Ferris is my virtual mentor right now. I’ve read all of his books and am an avid listener to his podcast.

I’ve also made a resolution to try and write something everyday. Nominally this would be on my book, but today I’m traveling and probably won’t get that kind of opportunity.

5 Bullets. Get it?

5 Bullets. Get it?

So I’m taking a page from Tim and doing a 5 Bullet Friday. These are just 5 random things that are influencing me or are interesting to me.

#1. Toastmasters District 25 Conference. Remember I said I was traveling today? We’re driving to the DFW area for our TM district conference. It’s our first time there and should be interesting. One thing that has impressed me is how much effort they have put into welcoming First Timers.

#2. Never Eat Alone by Kevin Ferrazzi. Of all the things going on in my life right now, this book is having the most impact. It is about building your personal network and has incredible insight into how valuable professional relationships are and how fun. I’m thinking about gifting it for Christmas this year.

#3. Beltway Park Church North. I’ve been going to this church for at least a month. Its a little on the DL because the Mrs can’t be a member there. But I realized today I’m going to miss church on Sunday because of the conference. And I’m actually going to miss it. I can’t remember the last time that was true.

#4. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I haven’t finished this book but his discussion about Resistance and doing the work is extremely powerful. It’s kind of like if a Marine drill sergeant wrote the Artist’s Way.

#5. Evernote. This application has been my brain for years, but it seems not everyone knows about it. Really you should check it out. I plan to write a speech about how I use it and I’ll post it to this blog when I do.

Need Your Help To Start Writing a Book


Since the fall of Reactuate Games I’ve been trying to decided what I’m going to do with my life. I won’t go into the process that I’ve been going through because that would be a distraction, but I’ve decided to decide.

I’m going to write a book.

Working title is Distinctions For Life. It will be a self-improvement/self-help/lifehacks book. That’s as far as I’ve gotten on its over all concept. But each chapter will be a pretty self contained topic.

For the last few months I’ve been compiling a list of topics in the form of Chapter Titles. This is where I need my friends’ help. I need to start. Looking at the whole of the idea is daunting and a great way to never start. I’ve decided I’m starting this week. But to know if anyone else thinks this is a good idea I want you to tell me what to write first.

Here’s my current list of chapter titles.
– The Macro and Micro parts of life.
– Take Responsibility
– Things wear out – replace your socks
– Social Interaction can be learned
– Build a network
– Yeah Goals
– Live life with Purpose
– Make mistakes
– How to avoid mistakes
– Routines
– Morning Pages
– Your brain is for thinking Your Phone for Remembering
– Knowledge brings depth to things
– Your body is a soup of chemicals
– Emotional bank accounts
– Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly
– Simple is not easy
– Systems
– Change you focus change you mood
– Beliefs
– Identity
– Go the extra mile
– Peoples communication channel of choice
– The myth of work/life balance
– Enjoy the process
– Process oriented goals
– People orient goals
– Work around mental blocks
– Stop shoulding on yourself
– Expertise isn’t about what you know it is about what others don’t.

Please leave a comment and tell me which chapter you’d find the most intriguing. From that list I’ll pick what to write first.

My Eulogy for Cleo and Jennifer Haston


Today we buried my wife’s parents in Flagstaff Arizona. These are the words I would like to have said at the service, but I can’t even think them without crying. There is no way I could have said them.

My favorite memories of Cleo and Jennifer show their humor. Cleo constantly joked with wait staff at the many restaurant meals we shared. They’d ask “Is there any thing else I can get you?”

He’d always – to the point of annoyance sometimes – answer “Money?”

My favorite story of Jennifer I didn’t experience directly but heard later, probably from Cleo. On one of the many trips the two of them took together they were on a beach. She noticed him check out a bikini clad woman walking along the shore and said, “Cleo, the only way you could get that girl was if you chased her down waving your W2.”

I was reminded of him at church last week when I noticed a woman in the aisle barefoot. Cleo once commented to someone who asked what Suanna and I’s church was like after he visited.

“No one at their church wears shoes.”

Which for Hope Chapel in Austin was funny but only half true.

The most important thing Cleo and Jennifer did for me though was to raise a daughter who knows how to be a better wife than I deserve. Their relationship taught her that life together isn’t always easy. You don’t always get along. You aren’t perfect toward each other.

But you approach life together. You try to make each other and everyone else laugh. You make the best of the bad times and in the end you are always there for each other.

And when you pass on, they take your bodies, turn them to ashes. Mingle those ashes together. Encase them in stone. And bury them in the ground side by side.

Then for as long as this planet circles its star the two of you will always be together.

The Vagrant Review


I met Peter Newman at LonCon 3 last summer and heard about The Vagrant
from him. The concept was compelling. A story where the main character doesn’t talk. And he is carrying a baby though a post-apocalyptic demonic wasteland.
Don’t think he mentioned one character was a goat.

From the beginning you know you are dealing with an author who is pushing for quality. A non-talking main character is a pretty big burden to take on for a first time author. But it works. He pulls it off and you never feel like he cheats where the character kind of talks.

The author’s prose style is also unique. If I had to compare him to someone it would be Neil Stephenson, who’s style is also peppered with one of a kind metaphors. Peter also anthropomorphizes everything, from the goat to grass thrown into the wind. The world comes alive in a number of different ways as you travel through the wasteland.

It is a melliu story, the book begins with The Vagrant at the beginning of a journey, carrying a thing to a place, and ends when he gets to that place and delivers the thing. I’m trying really hard to not spoil anything.

My only complaint with the book is it is too long. Maybe that is because of the current requirement by publishers that novels must be over 100,000 words, or if the author felt that’s how long it needed to be. But I could have done without yet another city we must travel through and experience another dark side of humanity.

Also there is a bad guy introduced in the last quarter of the book that just seem to be there for a possible sequel. I did feel the book stood on its own though, so don’t let that deter you from reading it.

Meeting an author before you read their book is a strange thing. Peter and his wife Emma – author of the Split Worlds books – are the team behind the Tea and Jeopardy Podcast. They are also two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I was so impressed with their proactive diligence in starting meet-ups at UK cons just for first time attendees. Lot’s of people say, “Hey someone ought to do something for people who’ve never been to a con.” They actually did something.

Give that, Peter obviously has a dark side. Some of the ways the demons use their powers to convert people into…things… are decidedly twisted and gross.

I enjoyed the theme of the book that one good person, who does the right thing even when it is the hard thing, can make a difference. The Vagrant was a paladin, doing good, not just avoiding evil.

Overall I like the book and think you all should go out and buy it.

This review was of the audiobook. I would have bought the Kindle version, but it isn’t available in the US. Stupid publishers.



It’s been a busy start of the year for me and I’m going to blog about the big changes soon.

But first let’s talk cocktails.

This month I’ve traveled quite a bit with a trip to Houston and one to Vegas. Both of these involved some good eats at nice restaurants and some time at bars. During those experiences I discovered there’s a big difference between a good cocktail and a bad one.

Mango Habanero Margarita.

Mango Habanero Margarita.

Churrascos has in my opinion the best steak in the world. That’s pretty high praise, but it’s true. They also made the beauty to the right for me. The Mango Habanero Margarita. Just a hint of heat in the drink, but more in the salt on the rim.

It was sooth as silk, which to me means the tequila was good. That’s the key to a margarita, good tequila. I could go into a whole blog post about tequila, but I won’t. Some people poo poo the idea of using an añejo tequila in a cocktail. They say it should only be drunk by itself. But I’m reminded of my culinary guru’s advice on sandwiches.

“Never use a bread for a sandwich you wouldn’t eat by itself.” – Alton Brown.

Why would you use an inferior tequila in a tequila drink?

After watching a number of mixologist in Vegas work their magic creating cocktails and some YouTubing of bartending videos, I’ve acquired a new avocation.

Republic Tequila

Republic Tequila

All new hobbies start with a trip for gear and in this case chemicals. I now own some cool glasses and a metal shaker with built-in jigger for measuring.

I also now have grenadine, agave nectar, lime juice and cherry syrup. OK, the last one is to make cherry Dr Pepper, which I’ve come to really like.

My favorite liquor is Tequila, specifically añejo Tequila, though I’ve had a number of good drinks with reposado Tequila as well. Specifically, my go to bottle is Republic añejo Tequila.

Yeah I like the bottle too.

Was the venerable margarita my first cocktail? No. There is a lot of discussion about what a margarita even is, and a lot of different recipes. I went for something a lot simpler.

Behold the Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

I will try the margarita soon, but this my first creation and I wanted to share it with you.

I also plan on blogging more in the very near future. Really.

River Song’s Screwdriver Epihany

River Song’s Sonic Screwdriver

River Song’s Sonic Screwdriver

This morning I was doing some stuff in my home workshop/office and saw the box for my River Song Sonic Screwdriver and it got me to thinking, which lead to a really cool epiphany. Rather than jump to the cool part straight away I’ll give you some of my internal dialog.

In HTML Screenplay format.


(RON puts camera away on shelf and notices River Song Sonicscrewdriver box)


Wow, River Song got her own toy when she was in only one episode, that’s cool.


Dr David said, “Why would I give her a sonic?”

When did he give it to her? Did she have a sonic during her Matt Smith years?

CUT TO: MONTAGE OF RIVER SONG SCENES with fuzzy edge dream/memory effect as RON thinks about it.

He remembers her wizbang future tricorder/ipad all the time, but not her Sonic.

(Shot with her holding her red shoes in one hand and device in other.)
(Shot her showing device to someone)


Mmmmm…Of course there was obviously a lot of time he spent with her off screen.


(River Tells Rory about Stevie Wonder on the Thames.)River and Rory

(RIVER tells Dr Matt Smith she’ll travel with him anytime)
travel with me thenwhenever you want

CUT TO: RON in the Closet


Hey wouldn’t it be cool if they did a parallel Dr Who with Matt Smith and River Song? It could all take place in those off screen times.


You know one of the first things River said to Dr David was….

CUT TO: Scene from The Library where RIVER is looking closely at the Doctor’s face and says:



“You look so young.”



She got her Sonic from a Doctor that looked older than David Tennant.

Matt Smith was younger.

Smith never gave her her sonic.

Capaldi looks old.

This would prove Moffat was a genius if he does it. That first River Song episode wasn’t even one of his. He didn’t write the line “You look so young.” Matter of fact he screwed it up by making the next Doctor, the one River spends so much time with, the youngest Doctor ever.

Maybe he decided on an older Doctor just so he could make this line make sense.

Dang, now why didn’t I think of this before I was in a Q&A with Stephen Moffet at the Dr Who Premiere in Cardiff.

Home Stretch


Literally in the home stretch for the UK adventure. 17 jam packed days.

DrWhoPremierThis week we have Dr Who Premiere, with us in Cardiff today through Thursday.

Stupidly I didn’t bring my camera from London. What was I thinking? Could I catch a train and get there and back today?

Nine-Worlds-logoFriday through Sunday we have the Nine Worlds Convention in London.
icanmakeshoes_logoMonday and Tuesday of next week I’m getting private lessons on shoe making.I know a little strange, but I’ve had an interest in creating some high tech, geeky high heels for over a year. I’ve looked around the US for a place to learn to do it, but haven’t found anywhere within a reasonable distance and cost. Found I Can Make Shoes in London via an article and decided to check it out. I’d already missed their class on it, but found out I could just do it as a private lesson. I’m going to make the Mrs something Dr Who themed.
London WorldConThen lastly by not leastly, the reason we’re in the UK. Loncon3/WorldCon in London, where both The Mrs and I are presenters.

My presentation is

Intro to Electronics and Illumination in Costuming

Friday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

Adding electronics and/or illumination to costumes used to require a high degree of technical knowledge, but now there are many products available making the process accessible to more costumers. This demonstration will show off some of the available technologies, including some of the exciting new developments in the e-Textiles movement.

Kevin Roche, Ron Davis, Amy Young

I’ve got two costume projects to complete before Loncon that require access to a laser cutter, and not time to get to the one at London Hackspace. But it is open 24hrs….

Power Voltage in the US and UK


Electrical outlets in the US and the UK look very different. Those in the UK are much bigger. They seem HUGE to me. They always have 3 prongs and the prongs are much larger.

Plugs & AdapterActually there is another kind of plug in the UK that has two prongs and is always marked “Shaver Only” and always in the bathroom. I’ve never used one of these so I don’t have much to say about them.

Talking to another visitor from the states about the outlets, he said, “…and it’s all 220”. In the US we do have larger 3 prong plugs that carry 240V. They are primarily used for large appliances like clothes washers and dryers. I also called them 220. I don’t know why since they are 240, unless it is that appliances that use them are called 220. The usage voltage is always lower than the outlet voltage.

But I wasn’t sure the current was actually the same. Did a little research today to answer this question and thought I’d share.

There are two main differences between household power in the US and the UK, voltage and cycle rate.


In the US your standard wall outlet provides power at 120 volts. In the UK, the standard wall outlet provides current at 230 volts. Both of those numbers are inaccurate. In the US it’s actually 114 to 126 V, and the UK is 230 -6% to +10%. According to Wikipedia, this is because in the UK, most power is still supplied to homes at 240.

If you are curious, US voltage is shared by Japan and Taiwan. UK voltage by Australia and New Zealand. The rest of the world is 230 +/- 6%, which is the new EU standard and something the UK is working to use.

Cycle Rate

Thanks to Nicola Tesla power is transmitted to our homes via Alternating Current. It gets it’s name from the fact “The direction of the current reverses, or alternates, 60 times per second (in the U.S.) or 50 times per second (in Europe, for example)”. (How Electricity Works)

So that’s another difference, they also have a different “hertz rate”. They alternate a different number of times per second.

From a traveler’s point of view, this just means you need an adapter to plug in your stuff. I’m sure most people think this is just because the plug shape is different, but there are some electrical stuff going on in there to change voltage and cycle rate. Interestingly this is actually one of the advantages of AC. It is easy to change the voltage at the point you want to use it.

I should also point out that a lot of stuff that lets you plug in your DC/battery powered devices, like a laptop or cell phone, really just needs a new plug. The conversion from AC to DC that happens already has to bring down the Voltage, way down. For instance my MacBook Pro’s power adapter bring it down to 20V.

This also means I can buy a UK MacBook adapter and use it with my MacBook without fear. Technically if I could just find the part with the plug on it, that’s all I’d need to make the switch. But alas, Apple doesn’t sell just that bit of cable or plug by itself, though they give you both when you buy an adapter.
Apple Plugs
Which is what I bought when we got to the UK. I needed a new power brick/cable anyway because my old one was frayed. I went to the Apple Store in London when we first got here and just bought a UK power adapter. It came with a cable and just the little plug part. I put the plug part on the Mrs’ US power adapter brick and used the cable on mine for the rest of the trip.