Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

07/30/14: I had a nice staycation last weekend, and unlike most times when I take time off to do nothing, I didn't do nothing. I took the time because I was planning to go see Woman in the Moon at the Pickwick on Thursday, and knowing that it was a three-hour movie, I planned to take Friday off, so I extended it. I packed a lot of stuff into the six days:
  • Thursday, I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself a new computer. I was going back and forth over whether I should build or buy, and was leaning to building, since I built my last one and it was still running after almost 11 years. But the more I thought about it, I was looking forward to using it rather an looking forward to building it. I found what I thought was a good compromise in the PowerSpec line from MicroCenter. It's their house brand, and the machines are built from off-the-shelf parts, so I should be able to upgrade down the road if necessary, without being locked into one manufacturer's parts. And there was an added bonus that I hadn't expected. I wanted to install an SSD for the OS (Win7 and Linux Mint) since a guy at work said that the performance improvement was remarkable. I bought an SSD, and when I unpacked everything and went to install it, I found that there was a full Win7 install disk in the computer box, not just recovery media locked to the original hardware. That meant that I didn't have to move Windows from one drive to the other, and I could just install it fresh on the SSD. That worked like a charm, and I spent the rest of the weekend moving all my data over to the new computer. I couldn't be more pleased.
  • As mentioned, my brother and I went to see Woman in the Moon at the Silent Film Society of Chicago's Silent Summer Film Festival on Thursday. I wasn't planning to write a review of this film, but if you enjoyed Metropolis, you'll probably like this one. We're big fans of the earlier science-fiction masterpiece (I lost count of how many times I've seen it) and this one was made by the same writer/director team (Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang) as Metropolis. The three hours seemed to fly by. Also, the Pickwick in Park Ridge, where this year's festival is held, is a gorgeous classic movie theater, and seems to be well taken care-of.
  • Friday, Stephie and I went to Schaumburg. She needed to return some items, so I went along for the ride. We went to Ikea and Woodfield mall, and we both registered a lot of steps on our Fitbits. We even found a cabinet that will work for Stephie's studio, something we've been looking for for quite a while.
  • Saturday was the Tamale Hit Reading Series event for July. It was a light turnout, as the summer months tend to be, but all the open-mic readers were on the top of their game. The featured reader seemed to be a little nervous, but her story was interesting and we bought a copy. The highlight of the evening, though, was the first reader, Rod Piechowski, who read another story from his Randy Scuffle universe, and he had everyone falling off their chairs with laughter. His first collection is available at Amazon.com, and heartily recommend it.
  • Sunday we first went to my parents' house for a little birthday get-together for my brother. Everyone was able to attend and it was a great time.
  • Later that day, Stephie and I went to the Chicago Theater downtown to see John Fogerty. The show was terrific, and like the Pickwick, the theater was beautiful. As much as I'm thrilled to see one of these fine auditoriums restored and being used, even if it's not for movies, I'm a little saddened, because it makes me think of the hundreds of theaters that no longer exist, and the handful that are still standing but in dire need of repair. I didn't think about that during the show, though, as Fogerty pretty much rocked our socks off. I've never thought of myself as a CCR fan, but his Centerfield solo album was on constant repeat in my car tape player the year it came out. For an old geezer in a flannel shirt, he put on a high-energy show.
  • On Monday, we went to visit another friend from the Tamale Hut Reading Series. We cooked some burgers and corn on the grill and sat in the yeard, enjoying the summer weather. An extra added plus was that we got to bring Kisu with us.
  • We went to the Punch House on Tuesday evening to end the staycation. I don't listen to the radio much, prefering podcasts to broadcast, but a couple of weeks ago, I heard a song on 'XRT that I really liked. Turns out, "Come With Me Now" by the Kongos has been pretty popular for a while, showing up in movie trailers and (apparently) on some wrestling thing or another, but this was the first time I heard it. When I went to the 'XRT web site to find out information about the song, I saw that they were having a contest to see the band live. I never win these things, so I have long since stopped entering, but something told me I should so I did. A week later, I received an e-mail from 'XRT saying that we were going to see the Kongos! They did a short acoustic show in that intimate setting, and it was really great. What was even better was walking up to the door and saying "We're on the list!" Best of all, we were home in time for me to get enough sleep to go to work the next day.
Now this is the way to do a staycation! Sorry that some of the pictures are a little dark. The only thing missing was that I wanted to do some writing, but all my free time was taken up futzing with the new computer. I'm almost done reinstalling everything, and I only need to get the TV capture card configured to get me back to where I was.
     I have another long weekend coming up in August, after the Scythian show on the 14th. It's going to be tough to beat this past weekend, but I'm keen to try!

08/23/13: Back when I used to buy a lot of anime dvds, I would regularly read the old animeondvd.com web site (now part of mania.com and not nearly as good.) It had the best information about upcoming releases, and the guy who did the reviews seemed to have similar tastes to mine. I may be wrong, but my impression was that he was a stay at home dad with two young girls and shelves full of dvds, and he spent all his non-child-rearing time watching anime and writing about it. One day I read that he had been to a convention and friends were concerned about his health. His weight had ballooned, and they were concerned that he needed to make a change in his lifestyle. What he did was buy a treadmill, and between walking on it and other changes in his life, was able to get back in shape. One thing that I remember distinctly was when he hit his million step milestone. He had a picture on the site of a small gym shoe charm that he got from the group helping to get him into shape. At the time, I thought that was an unbelievable amount of steps.
      For the last few years at work, we've had to earn points to qualify for better health insurance, and one scheme this year is they would give us a FitBit pedometer. They announced that we could earn a big chunk of our points goal by walking a million steps before mid-December. I had used a pedometer before, to track my walking to and from the train and work, not to mention the frequent dog walks, but I never really paid much attention to total steps. I thought I might have a chance to hit the goal, but a million steps seemed an almost unattainable goal. I was wrong.
      I hit my million steps today, a little over four months after starting. I'm a little disappointed that I got no feedback for hitting that milestone. On the FitBit site, I got a "badge" for my first 10,000 step day, and another when I passed 250 miles, but nothing for 1M. (I did later get a badge for 500 miles walked. Cue the Proclaimers.) I guess I have a sense of accomplishment, plus that huge chunk of points towards insurance, so I'll have to be happy with that. And who knows? There's almost four more months before the mid-December deadline, so I might be able to hit 2M before then.

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