Note: This summer was crazy. I posted next to nothing here on the site and we had several long gaps between IrrConPod episodes. The good news is I've got several things in the pipeline for the blog. I just need to find time to get them written...

I finished 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami, and started Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey. One of them I really can't recommend and one of them I definitely do recommend, but you'll have to read four other books first.

1Q84 is a strange book. I'm not sure if it's just the author's style or how it was translated from Japanese, but it's strange. It's very readable – if you don't count the references to Japanese culture that I don't get – but it is extremely long and there really isn't that much that happens. The plot, even when it seems like it should be very exciting, is subdued and predictable. And my biggest questions were either answered in a really boring way or just not answered at all. I can't really say it's a bad book but it's not a great story and you could probably spend that time with much more entertaining books.

Nemesis Games, on the other hand is really entertaining. It is book five of the excellent Expanse series of books. They all revolve around the same core characters with many other characters coming in and out of the story from book to book. I really love everything about these books from the awesome, retro-sci fi cover art to the thoughtful and realistic way space travel works in this universe. They're all great and Nemesis Games may be the most interesting one yet. I've heard it described as the Expanse's Empire Strikes Back. I haven't finished it yet, but it seems like an apt description so far.

If you want to get started with the Expanse books, which I highly recommend you do, the first book is Leviathan Wakes and all of the first five books are available in paperback.

Screens and Apps

I have been told that I am overdue on another apps post. To be honest, I'm overdue on posting, period. Either way here is a look at my current iPhone setup.

Here are my screens...

The first screen is self-explanatory: it's my lock screen. It's my kiddo taking some BP with her Uncle Randy pitching.

I'm not going to go through every app on every screen (and I'm certainly not going through all the folders) but I'll hit the highlights...

First Screen

Top row is photo stuff. I use Instagram to share and VSCO to edit. I often use the standard to actually take photos and putting it in the top right corner reminds me where the lens is on the back.

Rows two through four are kind of a mess of things I use a lot. Weather Line is my all-time favorite weather app. Ditto Fantastical and calendars. I prefer the interface and (still) the directions in Google Maps. I use Fastmail to host my, and Erin's, email so I use their app to do email. PCalc is a great calculator app and I use good old Clock for alarms and timers.

I use Droplr a ton to share links and gifs and such on twitter. I probably use the IMDb app about twenty times a day looking stuff up. NPR and Apple's News apps are there because for some reason I like to stay up on current events.

The fifth row are apps I check a lot. Overcast for podcasts and Music for, well, music. And NASCAR and At Bat speak for themselves.

Down in the bottom bar is stuff I want access too quickly. Wunderlist is my to-do, lists app. I can and do put anything and everything in there. My wife and I can share lists, too. It works really well. Instapaper is there just because, I guess. I really don't need quick access to that. Same with Reeder.

I've gone back to Tweetbot for my twittering. Twitterrific was getting too flaky and using Tweetbot across all of my devices lets me sync my timeline and my mutes.

Second Screen

This screen is mostly utilities and things I want quick access to without having to see all the time. The only things there that aren't obvious are Bonza, a crossword-like game; Paprika, a recipe manager; Viki, a Wikipedia client; and Soundboard, which is what I use to do sound drops on the podcast.

In the News/Info folder I have some interesting things. Hi-Def Radar is there because as much as I love Weather Line it doesn't have a radar map. The NASA app lets me check the NASA TV schedule and see when launches are. WOIAF is the World of Ice and Fire app. It's like a wiki for Game of Thrones. I need it when I'm reading the books because there are a million characters to keep track of. ESPN is for keeping track of JMU Sports and I use WolframAlpha and Convertible for odd calculations.

Most of the games on my phone are dumped in the Games folder. The Travel folder has my stuff for when were on the road or going to Disney. The TV folder has links to the activation pages for the TV apps that make you sign in every goddamn time you want to watch something.

Third Screen

The third screen is where everything else is. Most of it is just dumped in folders. I have a max of nine things in each folder so I can see the icons without opening each one up. And since there is no reasoning behind which folder anything is in I just numbered them instead of trying to think up names. The apps not in folders are games I either haven't tried or just haven't played enough yet to know if I want to keep them or put them in the Games folder, or – like with Alto – I want them out so I don't forget about them and never play them.

And that's it. All of my screens. They're a big mess for the most part but I'm so used to this mess that it's not worth fixing it.

Softball Scrimmage

Bea had her first softball scrimmage match this evening. These are crappy iPhone photos because I left the good camera at home but they show her catching in the first and her second AB in the third. She didn't get a hit tonight but she had two good at bats.

I really could not be more proud of this kid.


I used the excuse of my brother taking Beatrix to the park for some softball drills to get out of the house and go get some photos...

For the black & whites I just used Lightroom's basic exposure controls to add some contrast. The ones of Randy and Bea are as shot except for an added Lightroom preset, "Old Polar". Very simple edits all around...