tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:/posts Matthew Supert 2019-06-23T17:38:38Z Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1423431 2019-06-23T17:38:37Z 2019-06-23T17:38:38Z Skateboarding

Yesterday Megan and I went out to the mall to just get out of the house and walk around. It was a really nice night outside (finally summer) and we just wanted to be out and about. While at the mall we decided to pop out heads into the Vans store. I'm not sure if the Vans store is new at the mall or if I just had not been into it, but we probably spent a good 15 minutes walking around, touching all of the shoes. 

Up through high schoolI used to wear Vans all the time. To be honest I am not quite sure why I stopped wearing them. I have wide feet and it has always been difficult for me to find a good pair of shoes and Vans always had sizes for me. 

Anyways, I think the nostalgia train immediately kicked in. I'm surprised I didn't go and buy a pair of vans right there, but the conversation immediately went to skateboarding. Skateboarding is one of those sports I have always wanted to get into, but I never did. I am not quite sure if it is because I was so invested in other sports growing up, but my mind immediately went to "why don't I learn how to skateboard?"

Ok, let's back up a little bit here. Why am I even thinking about skateboarding at all? Well, as I noted above I think I have a bit of a nostalgia trying going, even though I have never been a skater. It's summer, skateboarding is very much a summer sport and I have been listening to some mall punk almost non-stop as of late. Sum 41 has a new album coming out and Blink 182 put their new album out a couple of years ago. It's like the 90's pop punk thing is back. I just need to wait for ska it make is resurgence. 

I have also been thinking a lot about LA for some reason. A co-worker of mine went to LA last summer and it always has seemed like a cool city to me. It also has a reputation for skateboarding. 

So, here I am now, thinking about "why shouldn't I try skateboarding?" It isn't that expensive, $100 or so for a board and another $40 for a helmet maybe. There are skate parks at almost all of the park districts around me, and hell, it is summer. I really want to learn something new. 

So, I think in the next couple of weeks here I am going to try and hit up a local skate shop and talk to them to try and get into skateboarding. Goal is to be able to successfully do an ollie by the end of the summer. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1419496 2019-06-12T14:06:27Z 2019-06-12T14:06:27Z Book Review - The Traitor Baru Cormorant

The Traitor Baru Cormorant
by Seth Dickinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is going to be a tough one for me to review. I really liked this book quite a bit, but at the same time, certain elements of the narrative didn't seem to make sense to me. They seemed incongruous to the basic plot-lines or motivation of the character.

Perhaps I'll just bullet point out what I liked and what I didn't like about the book.

Liked

  • The world building was really well done. The cultures and tribes really felt unique and poignant.
  • Baru, our main character was generally well written. She was smart, arrogant and capable. Sometimes too capable.
  • The overall story of empire was extremely well handled. I can't recall any other books or authors who framed the power of an empire through economic and cultural tools in a better way. It made the story extremely unique and more believable. 



Disliked 

  • My biggest hangup with the story really came down to the maneuvering of our main character Baru. Her driving motivations are to save her homeland. She says this several times throughout the story, yet at the same time she or other characters state that her homeland is already gone. It can never be brought back to what it was.  I think I never fully was able to buy into the notion that she was going to sacrifice an entire nation, thousands, if not millions of people to the empire's culture, while at the same time striving to save her own. I think this could have worked a bit better if the author showed Baru with less emotion, as more of the autistic savant. The fact that she did appear to have very distinct emotional struggles and wants though made this decision on her part seem all the more monstrous. I see that is what the author was going for, and perhaps more of that will play itself out over future books, but it came across as a bit hard to digest simply due to the scale of it all.

View all my reviews

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1415878 2019-06-03T03:14:47Z 2019-06-03T03:14:48Z Movement Detroit 2019

Last weekend Megan and I headed up to Detroit and we had one of the best weekends we probably ever have had. Detroit was hosting the Movement music festival, an electronic music fest in the heart of the birthplace of Techno. This year, my favorite band, Orbital, was performing. They almost never come to the US and the opportunity to see them in the midwest was something I couldn't pass up. 

Let me first start off this blog post to say that Detroit was amazing. We have all seen in the news how Detroit has has really gone through some rough times the past decade or two. I obviously didn't see all of the city, but it does seem like the city is starting to bounce back. There is a rejuvenation of the restaurant and shopping scene, at least in the Corktown neighborhood and it seems that much of the blight from abandoned buildings has been cleaned up. Several of the older factories and other industrial buildings appeared as if they were going through a renovation into residential and commercial. 

Megan and I had a discussion with one of the shop owners on Saturday and she was describing to us how Ford has been investing heavily in the tech sector, trying to brand itself not as a car company, but as a transportation technology company, and that they were bringing in a lot of young software developers and engineers. It really made the city feel vibrant and it seems like the city is trying to position itself with a music and arts refocus. 

We left Chicago Friday afternoon, around 1:30 PM. Traffic was pretty horrendous and it took us about two hours to make it through Indiana on I-80. We were hoping to swing by Grand Rapids on the way to Detroit to visit Hollander's. It is a store specializing in paper and book making. We didn't make it there on Friday and unfortunately we didn't get into Detroit until almost 8:30. Our hotel was the very artsy Trumball & Porter Hotel. Very hip and they have murals all over the outside, and a great courtyard with bags, a fire pit and a stage. They also had a really excellent bar and restaurant called the Red Dunn Kitchen (more on that later). We ordered a few drinks before heading to dinner. 

Thankfully we did plan ahead for our late arrival and we made dinner reservations for 9:15 at Lady of the House. It was only two blocks from our hotel and was a very hipster place to eat. The interior was decorated with an almost french farmhouse style. The food was fantastic. Unfortunately it was incredibly dark inside. We almost couldn't even read the menus. 


Saturday was the day. The music fest was kicking off around 4:00 PM that afternoon. We had some time to kill during the day, but we didn't want to burn ourselves out. We knew it was going to be a long night.  First up was breakfast at the aforementioned Red Dunn Kitchen. Wow, it surprised us. 

The Corktown neighborhood nearby had a couple of cool shops that we wanted to check out. We hit up the Eldorado General Store, George Gregory and Brightly Twisted. We also spent a good hour in Hello Records and bought have a dozen records there. 

We headed out to the show around 4:00 and walked. It was about a mile. About three blocks from the festival though a major thunderstorm hit that had us scrambled for cover in an office building. It was so bad that they actually evacuated the festival. As a bit of bonus karma, we did discover a very cool building called the Union Trust Building.

Once we got to the festival, the show was fantastic. I'll just let the videos and photos speak for themselves.


Some great acts at the show. Big surprises for us were Josh Wink and Amelie Lens. They made fans out of both of us and of course Orbital was amazing. We didn't get back to the hotel until about 2:00 am at which point we ordered a pizza from Dominos, as it was the only thing still open and we proceeded to wait almost an hour and a half for the pizza to arrive. We got out pizza though around 3:00 am and then finally crashed. The drive back to Chicago on Sunday was uneventful. 

Detroit, we had a great time and I would love to go back to Movement next year. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1321242 2019-05-22T04:00:00Z 2019-05-22T03:02:18Z My Favorite GPS Apps for Motorcycling

Riding season is here (if it will stop raining) and I will be heading on my first weekend trip coming up here in April. It has only been about two years since I have embraced using GPS for my motorcycle rides. I was initially very resistant to the idea, wanting to just enjoy the wandering of the ride, but I have come to appreciate the GPS not only for planning rides, but also for tracking where I have been, 

So let's talk about what I have used over the past couple of years. 


BMW Navigator Street (aka. Garmin Zumo 390)

The BMW Navigator Street is my go to device right now. It is a dedicated GPS device rebranded to BMW. I am a big fan of dedicated devices, espcially when it comes to rugged gear. A couple of years ago I planned a trip to Canada and I wanted to make sure I had a device that could reliably provide GPS maps in an area where I might not have a cell signal. 

The Navigator Street is basically a Garmin Zumo 390, with two basic tweaks. First, it does have a database built in for BMW Motorrad dealerships. Second, it has a dedicated cradle that connects to an accessory plug on BMW motorcycles. 

Overall I have had some good luck with the device. It gets the job done and does an excellent job of tracking my GPS routes as well. My only major qualm with it is that "curvy roads" setting does stay to highways a bit more than I would normally want it to. I really have to force to to reroute to get me to some real of the path places. 


Garmin Basecamp

So one of the great and sometimes awful things about the Garmin is a companion desktop application called Basecamp. Basecamp is meant to be a trip planning software. It is a really finicky piece of software and sometimes it is really confusing on how it wants to operate. 

Once you get your head around it though, the trip routing component is pretty nice. You can set waypoints, including gas stops right from the app. You can even distinguish what type of road you would like to ride on in between waypoints, such as a "curvy road" or just a highway. 

Bringing your trip routes back into the app after your trip is also very handy. 


Roadtrippers.com

While I do the trip routing in Basecamp, I do most of the actual trip planning in RoadTrippers. This site has become one of my favorite for any sort of road trip planning. Not only cane you plan your actual route in it, but it has an amazing database to find all of those quirky roadside attractions and oddities that you would expect for a road trip. I used this to plan a couple of road trips now and it is great for finding odd restaurants, road side stops and even the occasional inn or camping site. 

The recently changed the website and they now charge $30 if you want more than 7 waypoints in your trip. For road trip planning I think it would be worth it. 

They also have excellent guides for a lot of famous places around the US, which are a great place to start for a Roadtrippers as well. They also have an excellent iPhone app. 


Rever.com

Finally on my list is a website call Rever.co. I honestly haven't used this one very much since it is very app focused.Great if you want to use your phone for trip planning and GPS routing. Both the app and website have a very slick interface. The one really nice thing that they have going on for them though is the social features. In a lot of ways, this app is the motorcycle equivalent to Strava from the bicycling world. 

The social features allow you to setup groups where you can manage group rides, share data with friends, etc. I first got into this app because they seemed to have a partnership going with BMW Motorrad a year or two back. The web interface for planning routes is also very well done and I used it a little but a few years ago when planning some twist roads through the Adirondacks. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1401663 2019-04-24T20:51:03Z 2019-04-24T20:51:03Z Book Review: The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not quite sure how to review the book, because I am not entirely sure what I read. I enjoyed, immensely the five stories that were written by Denis Johnson, but having now finished the book, I have trouble recalling exactly what those stories were.

The five stories featured in this book all focus on the fairly mundane lives of the different protagonists. The topics covered cover drugs, lives, obsessions and other such topics. That being said none of the stories come across as dark as you might initially think. Instead they seem banal and the events that occur are told in a sort of matter of fact, "this is the way life is", sort of delivery. In a lot of ways, nothing happens in any of these stories. The characters tell us of these interludes in their lives, almost in a confessional way, and then that is it, the story is over.

For some reason though I was completely drawn into the stories. It was like a look behind the curtain in these people's lives, and the writing was so well done, that I felt like all of the stories were truly believable.

View all my reviews]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1390112 2019-03-25T23:34:48Z 2019-03-25T23:34:48Z D&D: Storm King's Thunder - Silence at the Table

A couple of weeks ago we had our regular Friday night D&D session with a new player coming to the table. Our group is still playing through Storm King's Thunder (nearly 3 years now), running around the countryside in chapter 3. They are in a home-brew session at this point, on assignment from the Harpers. 

Our party was working their way up to Termalaine looking for four other Harper agents. When they arrived in the city they found it to be eerily quiet, with the gates swung wide open. Our monk shadow stepped his way into the city to investigate and found a city that was in ruins from a recent attack by a war party. 

The usual D&D banter and roleplaying ensued from there with several of the NPC's. What happened next though caught everyone at the table by surprise, including myself. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1376366 2019-02-20T19:52:13Z 2019-02-20T19:52:14Z My Year in Books - 2018

My 2018 year in books. This was the first full year of our book club at work. Highlights from last year definitely were the City of Brass, Norse Mythology and the Fifth Season.There were at least two books that had good overall reviews on Goodreads, but I could not get into. Lies My Teacher Told Me and The Cuckoo's Calling both hit a flat note with me. 

You can find all of my reviews for those books linked above. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1372746 2019-02-11T03:57:48Z 2019-02-11T03:57:48Z Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Road trips are great for audiobooks and I was able to listen to this one in the span of a single day. I discovered Hercule Poirot about a year ago while reading Murder on the Orient Express. I was completely in love with that book and I am obviously a fan of the old detective novels like this and Sherlock Holmes.

This is a solid entry in the series and is the first Poirot adventure. The story follows the similar formula, or perhaps establishes the formula for the Poirot series. Half the fun of these novel in my opinion is to try and catch the clues throughout the book to try and identify the murderer using the same methodology as the detective. There is a bit of narrative stretch that occurs sometimes. They seemingly pull out pieces of information from the world that you are not privy too, but overall Christie does put the pieces there for you as a ready to draw upon.

I wasn't as enraptured as I was with Orient Express, but this was a solid and fun book in the series.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1372744 2019-02-11T03:45:36Z 2019-02-11T03:46:18Z Book Review: Sabriel

Sabriel by Garth Nix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This books certainly came out of nowhere and surprised me. I started listening to this book a few weeks ago and it didn't catch me at first. I left the library rental expire and then I decided to give it another go a few weeks ago. Once the story got going, it absolutely pulled me in.

This is labeled as a "Young Adult" book, but it is probably the most "adult" YA book I have read. The story is well put together. While it does cover many of the standard fantasy tropes, the world that Garth Nix has put together is incredibly well thought out. The magic system and world history is interesting. There are elements here the harken back to the John Carter or Narnia series in the way the world is constructed. It is tight and focused, keeping the world building isolated to the immediate land that the story is taking place in. We don't learn about the "whole planet", but that doesn't matter in the story telling.

I really liked the story arch that our main character, Sabriel went through. She was portrayed as a strong female lead character. She was capable where she needed to be, but knew that she was inexperienced. That inexperience was a primary plot device as it related to the Old Kingdom, but it was never used to victimize Sabriel. She also didn't fall into the traps that are so commonly used with YA or genre fiction where her decisions were driven by teenage emotions. Sure, she is a young adult in this book, but her character show the right amount of composure and emotion to make her believable. I really love that the other characters in the world held respect for her, for the Abhorsen, despite her age. It really showed a lot about the world.

Narratively I felt like this book was written as a result of Garth Nix playing D&D. Several of the plot points played out like D&D encounters in my opinion. They were satisfying though, nonetheless.

Overall, I loved the book. Any let me just put a final note in for that cover art. I absolutely love that artistic choice.



View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1360675 2019-02-04T20:39:18Z 2019-02-04T20:44:09Z Trying to Organize my D&D Notes

I have been DM'ing for almost three years now, playing the same campaign in Storm King's Thunder with my Friday night group. Through all of that period I have gone back and forth on trying to keep myself organized as the DM. I have admittedly struggled to keep a good track of my notes through the campaign and in general. 

I have wanted to approach D&D in as analog a way as possible. I spend so much time online and on the computer as it is, bringing that to the gaming table seems counter productive. That being said, there is an endless amount of functionality that a laptop or note taking software brings to the table, that it would be foolish to try to manage all of it in paper alone. I have finally over the past year or so begun to develop a system that works for me on keeping track of my notes, etc. 


Tracking the Game

Tūl Notebook

My first stop here is the use of a Tūl paper notebook. As I noted above I want to be as independent from the computer as possible at the gaming table and my quick reference notes during a gaming session are all being placed right into this paper notebook. I fund this Tūl system to be fascinating because of the ring bound sheets which allow you to remove pages and re-arrange them in any order. I have used spiral bound notebooks in the past and they have worked fine, but I have run into two primary limitations with them. 1) What to do when you have narrative or note changes that required you to re-arrange pages and 2) what do you do with the notebook if it is only partially filled and you are done with what you need with it? 

The Tūl notebook solved both of those problems for me and I picked up the smaller format size which works well for sitting at my side on the gaming table. The page size is exactly one half of a standard 11x8.5" page, so creating a few templates in Apple Pages is pretty easy and straight forward. 

Right now I have it divided into three basic sections. Story Summary, Current Adventure Notes, NPC's

I think I want to add some supplementary reference material to it as well, including some quick random tables along with a master index sheet for referencing back to the various books. 


Apple Notes

Apple Notes, and Evernote before that, are the cornerstone of where I keep track of all of my documents. In Notes, I have sub folders where I keep the text I write out along with .PDFs, images, and ideas for the campaign I am running. Up until recently, I was keeping a running campaign summary and NPC list in Notes, having that pinned to the top of my notes list. This worked well, but wasn't the best for quick reference during the middle of an active gaming session. 

I have moved more to a method of using Notes to capture my pre-session planning and ideas. What I have begun to do now is create a new note for each location or story plot and incorporate the relevant NPC's, and information needed for that section into that session.

 I am also using Apple notes to capture various D100 tables that I find online for adventure planning. 


Homebrew Planning

Over the next couple of months I hope to begin development on some home-brew adventure planning. I feel my Ebenere Nanowrimo story for a few years ago would make for an excellent setting to place a campaign in. 

Mind Maple

Mind mapping is one of those things that I can recognize the utility, but I haven't really taken full advantage of. I experimented with it a little bit for my current campaign, but I think it hasn't been successful because I didn't start using it from the beginning. The result is I haven't had a good amount of connecting ideas to develop with the narrative. You can see my poor mapping laid out below when I tried to pickup with our party in Gauntlgrym. 

When I begin a new home-brew campaign, I anticipate this will become critical for mapping out the overall story arc though

OmniOutliner

Omnioutliner is a great outlining and note taking app. I anticipate this will also become a core component for my future home-brew campaign as I chart out future NPCs, characters, etc. You can see below my failed attempt at trying to keep track of items in it for the SKT campaign. 




 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1350454 2018-12-05T03:43:06Z 2018-12-05T03:43:28Z Book Review: Dust of Dreams
Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me over a year of chipping away at this book to finally finish . Having spent the the past 7-8 years reading this series now I need to get through to the end. I would have to say that I do enjoy this series on the whole, but this book is the prime example of what is wrong with the series. This book clocks in at over eight hundred pages. We are 90% of our way through this series and Erickson continues to layer on an endless number of new characters and story arcs.

The book's structure is also quintessential of the series thus far, where the reader is dragged along for hundreds of pages with little concrete happening in terms of the story, only for a very impressive climax to finally occur in the last 150 pages or so. This book did have a fantastic ending battle, of which Erikson is known for, and I found myself emotionally distraught as we once again watched characters we came to love and enjoy get torn apart by the horrors of war. Truthfully, I don't know of many authors who can write large battle scenes as well as Erickson can. 

The difference for me this time around though is that the final battle felt a bit too "Deus Ex Machina". The enemy that our main characters encountered came from nowhere, and I did not have any pretense, as a reader, as to where they came from, why they were there or why they were attacking the Bonehunters. Because of this the weight of the scene was largely lost. To add to that whole feeling of "huh?", was the fact that Erikson threw another "Deus Ex Machina" element into the final scenes during a battle with the sky keeps. When we thought our heroe to be lost, a new player enters the field, seemingly out of nowhere. It all felt just a bit too convenient of a story telling mechanism for me with out the necessary guiding motivation for it to actually occur.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1342651 2018-11-10T23:07:36Z 2018-11-10T23:07:37Z Ridelog: 10-27-18

Probably the last ride of 2018. A nice long one up to the Galena are for lunch in New Diggings. Quite the offroad area up there. Lunch was at the Saloon. Basic brat burger with a can of coke. The parking lot was filled with ATV and offload vehicles. Weather was on the chilly side, but overall a good time. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1342633 2018-11-10T22:36:07Z 2018-11-10T22:36:07Z Ridelog: 09-09-10

A simple lunch ride from back in September. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1318138 2018-10-29T14:59:07Z 2018-10-29T14:59:08Z Ridelog: Colorado and the Million Dollar Highway


Day 1 and Day 2 - Travel Across Iowa and Nebraska

Day one of our second trip to Colorado. I-88 was under a lot of construction so we held onto Route 30 through most of Illinois. We then jumped onto I-80 and stayed on that to Nebraska. The temperature was hot, in the upper 80's. Around 488 miles on day one. 

Day two was another long haul on the highway. Lunch was at a truck stop, always a good choice in my book. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1335768 2018-10-25T00:53:25Z 2018-10-25T00:53:26Z Music Listening: AAC - Paul Oakenfold: Mount Everest

I haven't picked up a "DJ" mix album in years. In fact the last one I picked up was Oakenfold's live from Oslo. I can't recall how I came across this album, but this has been on my play rotation for the past couple of months now. This is another great DJ mix that mixes Oakenfold's classic "Chill" sort of vibe along with the deep electronic beats. 

The construction of this album is what it really makes it such a unique experience. The album not only has the traditional live DJ mix, but it also has all of the individual songs in their "original" format, which includes several non-electronic songs. This allows you to listen to all of the songs individually. The album ends with two one hour live mixes which were performed by Oakenfold on Mount Everest 

Overall a great album of you are looking for some of that classic Oakenfold chill/dance vibe. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1321241 2018-09-24T02:06:36Z 2018-09-24T02:06:36Z Ridelog: 07-29-18

Playing some catch up on posting some summer rides. This was a solo ride up to Wisconsin. I was intending to test out a route and I definitely need to tweak it a bit. The ride up through Illinois around Johnsburg and Fox Lake was fully of stop and go traffic. Things didn't open up to an enjoyable ride until I actually got into Wisconsin, so it may make more sense to just slab it up to there and then enjoy the ride from there on out. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1321243 2018-09-14T03:15:00Z 2018-09-24T17:00:07Z Videogaming: Quantum Break

Xbox Game Pass has been a really cool service that I have been taking advantage of lately. It is sort of like a Netflix type service for Xbox, where a library of games is available for you to play for $10 a month. One of my most recent plays was Quantum Break. This game really surprised me. At the time of its release it caught a lot of flak and didn't seem to get very good reviews. 

Microsoft tried to do something interesting with the game, mixing live action "TV Episodes" that aired on a weekly basis to build upon the story. The idea is that decisions in the game would influence the live episode the next week. I'm well past that point, but the overall execution worked out pretty well in my opinion. 

What really blew me away though in Quantum Break was how well they told a time travel story. The logic and science behind their methods to tell the story made complete sense and didn't cause any sort of paradox problems within the story. In fact, if you think about how they executed the ending, the whole foreshadowing throughout the entire game continues to be consistent, even if you did "defeat the bad guy". It has to be one of the better sci-fi uses of time travel that I have ever seen. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1307900 2018-08-15T19:01:51Z 2018-08-15T19:01:54Z Italy

Back in June and July Megan and I visited Italy for my brother's wedding. The trip was a two week adventure visiting Milan, Bergamo, Verona and Lake Maggiore. The idea was to vacation with our family the week prior to the wedding and then spend about a week in Lake Maggiore for the wedding itself. 

]]> Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1310163 2018-08-08T01:43:47Z 2018-08-08T01:46:06Z Book Review: The Fifth Season
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow!!!! How do I describe this book? This was simply fantastic and ranks up there with one of the best books I have ever read.

The world building here is superbly done, bringing in just enough that is familiar to us, while also being strange and fantastic at the same time. Jemisin brings a lot to this book to discuss race, racism, social caste systems and more. It is all done in such a way that makes you repulsed by it, but at the same time understanding of it, at least in the context of this world. It is complex and multifaceted. Her writing style is extremely eloquent as well. While my previous read (Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman) talked about how he is the quintessential "storyteller" by the way he writes and talks. Jemisin immediately comes across in an almost scholarly fashion in her style.

The topics of love, acceptance and family are also explored in a deep and unconventional way here. Watching our main character, Essun, rise and fall in her emotional relationships was exhilarating and devastating at the same time. The moments near the last third of the book with Innon, and her family are something that was truly touching, even if they don't fall into what our traditional social context of a family may be.

The characters are also truly engaging. Alabaster, Hoa, Innon, Tonkee. All were deep and diverse in their own respective ways. They were dimensional, having motivations that were both internal and external to their character arcs. They were interesting, each with their own goals in life.

My only really gripe about the whole book, and the only reason it doesn't get a full five stars from me, is one of Essun's character traits. Throughout the book she is persistently negative about every situation presented to her. I understand that of her character profile, but her negatively is so aggressive and outwardly projected that I lost that "suspension of disbelief" with her character at times. Even when circumstances in her life changed, even for the good, she is shown as chronically negative about every situation and environment around her. At times it is used as a motivating factor for her character. Her, "It's not right", stance makes sense, but other times she seemed to resist and challenge the other characters in a scene for no apparent gain, only to give in for what was obviously the only course of action.

Despite all of that though, this book was riveting from beginning to end and I immediately want to read the sequel.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1307906 2018-07-31T02:35:18Z 2018-07-31T02:35:18Z Book Review - Night's Master
Night's Master by Tanith Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed what this book had to offer. Its format and overt sexuality might take some readers by surprise, but if you think of this as written like a book of mythology, it works perfectly well. The chapters in the book are each a stand alone story. Some of them build upon previous chapters with events or characters, but not all.

What we get here is a fantastic crafting of a world and all of its myth. The place setting was mostly in the dessert, almost an Arabic sort of description. It all game across as wonderfully exotic and mysterious. I really enjoyed this and definitely would read more.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1307903 2018-07-31T02:30:21Z 2018-07-31T02:30:21Z Book Review - Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating book. A look inside the first 100 days of the white house illustrated by chaotic, and sometimes combative events between opposing factions, all fueled by a President who is completely incapable of managing it all.

What surprised me the most from reading this book was how the various events that we have all seen play out in the news mostly derived not from maliciousness, but rather pure ineptitude. The who event played out continually like a "Parks and Recs" episode of stupid decision after stupid decision, often times made out of what appeared to be pure spite for another individual. This all led to the bewildered state for the reader that these people operating in the white house seem to have no idea or no care about the broader implications of their actions on the country as a whole. It is like a soap opera where they only care about their own personal standing and position with other people inside this weird close nit circle.

The books is well written, entertaining and paints at the very least, a fun story of what was happening in this white house. It is amazing, a year later, that names mentioned in the book, like Michael Cohen, are now making their way to the headlines in current news cycles.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1303348 2018-07-15T21:10:10Z 2018-07-15T21:10:10Z Ridelog: 2018-07-08

This was a nice ride from a couple of weeks ago. I think it was my first ride with MEWs this year. It was a big group, sixteen riders, which is usually way too many for me, but we had a great tide. Lunch was fun at the Crooked Roof in Lanark. We then rode to Lowden State Park to view the Blackhawk Statute. The guy is in a bit of rough shape. 


Good ride with a good group. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1296505 2018-06-23T22:29:37Z 2018-06-23T22:29:37Z Ridelog: Demoing the BMW K1600B, the "Bagger"

My local dealership was doing a special demo ride event for the new BMW K1600B. This is BMW's new touring bike, built upon their K series engine. They have had the K1600GT and GTL in their lineup for years and those bikes have been known to be some of the best touring bikes out there, right up there with the Honda Goldwing. Last year BMW introduced the B or bagger series. As far as I can tell, the major difference with the B versus the GT series is the lower seat height and overall profile. It has a more "American" style cruiser seating profile. 

I was a bit surprised when I got to the dealership. This wasn't an organized test ride with a group leader and 12 bikes following. They had four bikes sitting outside. You walked up, said you wanted to ride, they got you on and then said "see you later". I was able to ride wherever I wanted and they didn't give me any stipulations. It worked out great since I was able to ride the bike how I wanted to. 

You can see my thoughts on the bike in the video below. In short, it is a very nice bike, but it clocks in at around $24,000 I think. It is super smooth, but also boring to ride. I don't feel any character to the bike at all. The engine, when I can hear it, feels like I am riding a semi-truck. You can pile the miles onto this bike though. It is super comfortable with a very easy riding position. 

The bike is unbelievably heavy, but at the same time surprisingly nimble while on the road. The seating and leg position is still upright enough that I think could really lean into turns if I was given the opportunity. I wasn't sitting so far leaned back and legs forward that my riding technique was compromised.  

I think ultimately the next bike for me would be an R1200RS or RT. Both still have that boxer engine that I really enjoy and they could give me more of that touring feel if I was really looking for it. For now though, I am going to stick with my 1200R. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1291363 2018-06-06T16:56:13Z 2018-06-06T16:57:08Z Book Review - Burial Rites
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very well written book read by an extremely good narrator. The dialect and accent on the spoken passages in Icelandic seemed spot on in the audio-book and really brought the reader into this world.

This book is heavy and dark. The premise is depressing at best, and the entire mood is heightened by place, in the grey, cold reaches of Iceland. As a reader, you have an idea of where this book is going to end right when you come into it, but it is the journey through the final months of the main character's life that really drive this book home.

The characters were very well written, with the young priest being the exception. His place in the book was largely not necessary and I never felt he was critical to the story or the development of Agnes through her final days.

I would not consider this to be a light read, and in fact, was a difficult one to get through when the weather was so pleasant out in the spring and early summer. This is the type of book you read on a rainy October Sunday in front of a fire with hot tea and some cookies. You are going to need those tea and cookies because they are the only thing that are going to make you feel good while you read this. Agnes is almost the stereotype of a tragic character. Almost everything that could have possibly gone wrong in her life has, and there is a deep sense of depression painted around her. The reader receives only the briefest moment of melancholy relief when her story finally ends.

In some ways I am at a loss for how to wrap up this review. This book is written beautifully. The writing is almost poetic at times and the attention to detail with the use of the Icelandic language was masterfully done. That detailed use of language though is also what makes the book as deep and as heavy as it is. This isn't the type of book for everyone, but it has all the markings to become a "classic" that is still recognized decades from now.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1303341 2018-06-03T17:00:00Z 2018-07-15T20:57:51Z Ridelog: 2018-06-03

Nothing special on this particular ridelog. This is  your standard shot down towards Starved Rock. As you can imagine it was very crowded. There are some really great roads south of I-80 that you can take down to Starved Rock for a pleasant trip, most notably W Dupont, Pine Bluff and River Road.
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1303337 2018-05-27T17:00:00Z 2018-07-15T20:49:28Z Ridelog: 2018-05-27 Memorial Day

Nothing particularly exciting about this log. Just a highway shot up to the in laws for a Memorial Day cookout. I did take some time though after dinner to ride the twilight hours up near Bull Valley. There are some very pleasant roads up there and twilight is always one of my favorite times to ride. Those 15 minutes right before the sun goes down are just magical. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1303334 2018-05-19T17:00:00Z 2018-07-15T20:44:29Z Ridelog: 2018-05-19

I have been delinquent in posting my rides this year. I haven't even tracked everything. I need to get better about that. Anyways, here is to making up on some of that. 


This was a quick ride up with a couple of friends to Wisconsin for lunch. Two of the riders in our group were doing the Tour of Honor ride challenge, which is a brilliant idea. Here is a description of what that is from their site: 

The Tour of Honor Motorcycle Ride is a great reason to hit the open road, honor our nation's heroes, and contribute to a few good charities. The event is a season-long, self-directed ride to memorials and monuments around the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii. Beginning April 1, visit as many sites as you want, with any route you choose. Finishers Certificates are awarded to those who visit any seven sites.

I wish I had found out about it sooner, but it is definitely something I will be signing up for next year. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1283592 2018-05-15T01:54:20Z 2018-05-15T14:13:19Z Sometimes it all goes to shit....and the DM just smiles

Last week we had what was arguably a great or a terrible D&D session, depending upon where you were sitting around the table. Our adventurers found their airship crashed and in disrepair in the middle of grasslands, just west of the city of Longsaddle. 

Having successfully defeating attacking pirates, our group discovered, while going through the wreckage of that airship (also crashed), twelve slaves who were chained in the lower hold, forced to power the airship with their labor. 

Our group decided to free the slaves, but they now had to deal with the additional mouths to feed and bodies to take care of. Weak from their tireless labor and malnourishment, the slaves were all but helpless. Our adventurers had also lost three of their eight crew members during their crash and their ship would take four days to repair it. 

That evening we had a new player joid our group to play and I slipped them in as one of the freed slaves. Our evening seemed to start off to a good start, until I decided to roll for a random encounter. In front of me was a d100 table that had a large number of random encounters that varied depending upon the terrain in which our party found itself. Most of the time when I roll from this table, the encounter is innocuous. Sometimes some bandits, sometimes a weather event, more often than not, nothing at all. This evening though I rolled a 66. Looking through my table and checking the  terrain for grasslands I found that the encounter was 1d4 frost giants. 

"Ohh," I thought to myself. "This should be interesting". I rolled the 1d4 and up comes a 3. Three frost giants then emerge from the edge of the woods. Seeing the two ships crash in the night and the explosion of the fire elemental, their interest is piqued.

My party freaks out!!! 

At first they think that the frost giants might not be threatening. After all, they worked with a frost giant called Harshnag only a few months earlier. Well, our party's assumption cost them dearly. When the giant's arrived, seeing the disrepair of the ship and the condition of our party, they ordered the adventurers to turn over all of their weapons, armor and valuables, which included three precious relics . This was all promptly thrown into a giant bag of holding. Our giants then turned and marched back into the forest, leaving our party with nothing, and 17 mouths to feed. 

One party member, who is rather reckless, decided to charge into the woods after the giants to track them. He promptly failed his wilderness saving throw and got lost. The rest of our group spent the remaining three days repairing their ship and limped back to the city of Yartar.

Beaten and with their heads down they found that two of the slaves whom they rescued were nobles and upon returning them our party was paid handsomely, which allowed them to at least re-equipment themselves a bit. Things once again turned sour however. Our party was invited to stay in one of the noble's house as a thank you. Our new companion however got into a fight with another party member in the guest house, blew out a window and had the party promptly thrown out of the house.   

Our other member (barbarian) who ran into the woods did thankfully have ten days of rations on him. He was able to stumbled to the city of Triboar and now needs to either work or find some way to get himself to Yartar. And that is where we left our party that evening. 

I came away rather amused with myself, quite pleased with how defeated the party was. My players? Well, they walked away rather upset, perhaps arguing to me that I shouldn't have gone with what the dice rolled from the random encounter table. The best part is that several members were not in attendance last Friday and they are going to show up this week and find that they have lost everything in the matter of a week, 

We'll just see how everything plays out. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1267878 2018-04-15T17:00:00Z 2018-04-15T17:00:04Z Music Listening: ALAC/Vinyl - Cigarettes After Sex - Cigarettes After Sex

https://cigarettesaftersex.bandcamp.com

Keeping in the theme of music, my latest jam comes from a random album from Amazon Music. Cigarettes After Sex is a sort of downtempo, ambient rock group? Yeah, I think so. I like to think that this is the perfect sound for a rainy day. It just so happened to be a rainy March afternoon in the office when I put this on and the mood could not have been more perfect. 


The album's opening song "K", immediately brings you into an almost dreamlike state. Is it possible to have a feeling of "happy" depression, because that is what I get when listening to this album. The guitar sounds share a lot in common with "Tycho", but where Tycho is pure pop bliss, Sex After Cigarettes is the immediate counter point. 

The album does get a bit "same" sounding throughout, but that melancholy vibe does satisfy. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1267877 2018-04-08T17:00:03Z 2018-04-08T17:00:03Z Music Listening: AAC - Diet Cig

I have been listening pretty hard to a band I just discovered called "Diet Cig". They are a alt-punk sort of duo that I heard about a couple of weeks ago. I actually found them completely randomly over at AV Club. While reading an unrelated article the video (below) of the Diet Cig video was posted at the bottom of the page. The song immediately caught my attention and then I found several more of their videos over on Youtube. 

You'll quickly find that they have been featured on everything from KEXP to NPR's Tiny Desk. The song "Harvard" is infectious and evokes and immediate sense of my years in high school. I dunno if it is the sound or what, but I am immediately taken back to summer of being seventeen and listening to Blink 182. I mean, damn, is this not a great summer jam right here? 

I immediately had to go and download everything they have. Go to their Bandcamp and download the music there. https://dietcig.bandcamp.com

All four of their EP's only total to about 38 minutes of music, but damn if it isn't a great 38 minutes. 

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Matthew Supert