Categories
Fitness Hiking Peakbagging

First summit over 10,000 feet

When I started hiking again last year, I came up with a plan: Get to the point where I could hike up Utah’s highest mountain, King’s Peak (13,534 feet and a 30-mile backcountry hike), this year. The plan was basically 1) hike up mountains, 2) keep going higher, 3) do some backcountry camping, 4) get in better shape.

I won’t bore you with the fourth one, but I’ve been doing the first one since October, with lots of lessons learned along the way. But I don’t have the expertise to hike up higher peaks in winter, so I waited for this summer to start on the second one in earnest. The tallest peak I summited last year was Mt. Olympus, 9,026 feet.

Today, over the course of a 9-mile hike, I summited my first peak above 10,000 feet: Mt. Raymond, 10,241 feet. It’s got a slightly higher neighbor, Gobblers Knob (10,246 feet), so when I got back to the pass that links them, I summited that one as well.

Prior to these two peaks, the highest I’d ever stood was 10,023 feet, the top of Haleakala in Maui. But I didn’t hike up that — I drove up with my wife, on our honeymoon. It was fun to beat that height!

Next week I’m going to hit number three, a two-day backpacking trip built around summiting Mt. Timpanogos. Mt. Timpanogos is 11,749 feet, which — assuming I make it up and back — will be my highest solo summit, the highest point I’ve ever stood, and the first time I’ve backpacked in about 22 years.

The picture above was taken at the summit of Mt. Raymond, looking west. (It’s a lot better than the tired selfie I took atop Gobblers, because I wasn’t as bushed and I didn’t take this one.)

Categories
Fitness Weightlifting

Simple activities with complex underpinnings

I hit my 90th session of meditation (zazen) tonight — I’ve missed three days in the last 93. Realizing my “Seinfeld chain” was broken when I woke up on Saturday morning was a bummer (camping; slipped my mind), as I’d done 89 days straight until then, but in the end what matters boils down to: just sit. I’ll work my way up to and past 90 straight again.

Today was also day 94 of working out daily, weight lifting MWF and doing light cardio the other four days. My routine is all dumbbells (plus crunches); I started out with 5-pounders around 9 weeks ago, and am up to 20-pounders for most exercises. A couple are at 15, a couple are at 25, and I’m going to try one at 30 this week. Spurred by lifting, I’m also working on managing my macronutrient ratios and eating healthier, which feels surprisingly good.

The benefits of both of these activities — meditation and working out — have been tangible, meaningful, and more profound than I expected. I’m not big on horn-tooting and I’m not sharing this to brag — I’m a pretty awful meditator, and no one but me can tell I’ve been working out yet. Looking like Chris Evans in Captain America is a ways off, to say the least.

I’m sharing it because of the profundity: These are simple activities with complex underpinnings, and I’m just starting to scratch away the surface and see what they’re all about. It’s a good feeling and an interesting experience.

Categories
Life

Specialization is for insects

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert A. Heinlein

This quote has intrigued since I first read it when I was younger. Back then, mostly it bothered me: I’ve generally tended to become deeply interested in just a few things, rather than exploring lots of different things. (And I did, and still do, most often play hyperspecialized RPG characters.)

Back in high school my favorite teacher said, “Everything is interesting if you look closely enough,” and in the 20 years since then I’ve found that to be true on many, many occasions.

Becoming a dad five years ago shifted a lot of things in my head, as I’m told it tends to. Dads (and moms) can’t afford to specialize; I’ve had to branch out and learn to do lots of things, to appreciate things — pony cartoons, invisible sisters, weird games — that I would never have considered on my own.

Fast forward to this past year, when I took up old interests I’d abandoned (camping, hiking, biking, target shooting) and got into things that were totally new to me (peakbagging, weightlifting, meditation), and I now realize that I see Heinlein’s quote differently than I did as a kid: I’m enjoying the hell out of not specializing.

Categories
Comics

My first CGC comic

A couple months back I sent a signed copy of Green Lantern #1 (2005) to CGC for grading, partly because I thought it would be fun to hang on the office wall and partly just to see what it was like. (I enjoy collecting things, but with vanishingly rare exceptions I don’t collect stuff and not open/use/read it.)

It’s neat! It’s kind of like freezing the comic in time. The capsule is tamper-evident; 9.6 is “near mint plus,” and with a UV frame (added by me) it should stay 9.6 for my lifetime.

What I like most, because it’s funny, is the note: “2 names written on cover in marker.” If it weren’t on the pricey side, I’d send them one with a big dong drawn on the cover and see if it came back with “1 erect male member drawn on the cover in crayon.

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Ultima Online ate my life

I was cleaning out the office closet today and came across this CD.

There was a good long chunk of my twenties where I played at least 40 hours of UO a week, and I still vividly remember many, many things that happened to my characters.

Categories
Comics

Green Lantern trade reading order: Geoff Johns’ run and all concurrent lantern TPBs

Want to read a whole lot of awesome Green Lantern comics? This is the list I used to do just that, plus some context to explain the order I chose and some gushing about Green Lantern in general.

Just want the reading list without the context?
Skip straight to the list, and happy reading!

Caveat added in April 2020: Geoff Johns’ primary collaborator on the core GL series, Ethan Van Sciver, is a terrible person. His misogynistic bullshit is beyond vile. Were this a post about his work, it would be long gone from Yore. But this post isn’t about his work, it’s about a decade of Green Lantern comics that includes numerous titles not associated with Van Sciver — and one, the core GL book, which unfortunately does feature his artwork. For now, I’m leaving this post in place as a resource for folks who want to explore this era of Green Lantern comics.

In 2013 I got back into superhero comics (after reading mostly indie stuff for many years) when I read a comic that surprised the hell out of me: Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman  (paid link), which took a character I’d more or less dismissed and made him fascinating. That started a slow burn that led — by way of Morrison’s New X-Men (paid link), Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye  (paid link), Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder  (paid link), and a couple of other titles — to a desire to explore a superhero who was new to me. A bit of Googling led me to Green Lantern, and specifically to Geoff Johns’ run on the title, which was widely regarded as being excellent.

I decided if I was going to jump in, I’d do a cannonball: read Green Lantern and all concurrent lantern-focused titles for all of Johns’ 2004-2013 run, 10 years worth of comics in 40 trades (plus a 41st for good measure). It was one of the best reading decisions I’ve ever made.

I came to love Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Mogo, Despotellis, Kilowog, Sinestro, Soranik Natu, B’dg, and so many other great characters. I love the Green Lantern Corps, the mythology of the corps and the universe the lanterns inhabit, and the fact that lantern titles — especially Corps — are more sci-fi with superheroes than straight-up superhero tales. Taken as a whole, Green Lantern and its companion titles are over the top, pulpy in the best ways, often pretty wild, larger than life, and a whole lot of fun. They’ve become some of my favorite comics.

But this venture wasn’t without its challenges. It’d been a long time since I’d read a DC or Marvel title on an ongoing basis, and I was unfamiliar with the mechanics of crossover events, dovetailing and intertwining stories that span multiple books, and the like. It was confusing.

More confusing still, while it seemed like there should be one correct reading order, I saw lots of disagreement online about the order in which these titles should be read. I wound up using two lists as the basis for my own (and many thanks to the folks who created them!): this post by SmashBrawler on ComicVine, and The Superheroes List part 1 and part 2.

My reading order isn’t definitive — this is just how I chose to read these titles. I had a blast doing it, and I hope I can simplify this process for others who are in a similar situation.

The goal of this list

For context, here’s what I wanted to do:

  1. Read Green Lantern and every other book starring lanterns (not necessarily every book in which lanterns appear) for the entirety of Geoff Johns’ run
  2. Keep it simple by, whenever possible, reading whole trades at once
  3. Introduce myself to Hal Jordan, who I knew next to nothing about
  4. Avoid spoiling anything in the process of figuring out my reading order
  5. Strike a balance between simplicity (reading trade by trade) and maximum fidelity to the story (reading issue by issue and roping in lots of non-lantern books)

This is the list I used to accomplish those goals. It’s presented as simply as possible because that’s what I found I wanted when I was reading these trades: a simple list. “Do this and you’ll have fun.” I did this, and I had fun.

Green Lantern reading order, 2004-2013

For 1-19 and 23-37, you can read each trade on its own, one after the other. (I call out a couple of cases below where I took the lazy route and you might prefer to go issue by issue.) Three big cross-title events — Blackest Night (20-22) and Rise of the Third Army through Wrath of the First Lantern (38-41) — however, need to be read issue by issue, jumping between concurrent trades as you go, in order for them to make sense.

You can also download this list, including my notes, as a simple text file.

Do any of these books suck?

Red Lanterns is terrible. The first trade is basically just an excuse to put Bleez in lots of boobs/butt poses, the writing in all three trades is godawful, and the story is generally wretched to mediocre. There are a couple of cool moments, but I was glad every time I could put a Red Lanterns trade behind me.

New Guardians wasn’t great for the first two trades (though still much better than Red Lanterns), but it picked up in the third one and finished strong. I wound up liking it.

The two Ion trades were just okay, but important for Kyle Rayner’s story. Not bad, just not great; well worth reading.

Everything else on this list — over 30 TPBs — I loved reading and would be thrilled to read again. This is a fantastic set of comics.

Look, a rabbit hole

In the course of reading these trades, I came to dig the lanterns so much that I bought a replica lantern:

…and jumped at the chance to pick up a piece of original artwork (Green Lantern Corps #15, page 11 — one of my favorite storylines in the whole arc, featuring one of my favorite parts of that story), which my wife framed up for my birthday:

So be warned: Your wallet won’t thank you for getting into Green Lantern — but apart from that you’re in for a real treat.

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

The winter pork shoulder

Sometimes I’ll watch a movie and wish I was more like one of the characters, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier made me want to look like Chris Evans.

Not facially; I’m reasonably content to look like me (kind of weird). But holy shit, that man has a bangin’ bod. Chris Hemsworth might win out on sheer dreaminess, but he’s big in a way I don’t think I could be. But Chris Evans’ physique, while separated from me by a gulf of 15 years of my being fairly sessile — plus probably a host of other factors — looks like it could be achievable if I stick to my daily regimen.

I’ve got muscles like one of those soft, doughy pork buns right now, so next month or next year this ain’t. But it’s a goal I don’t recall ever having before. It’s an odd feeling.

Now I want a pork bun. Delicious pork.

Categories
Fitness Hiking Peakbagging

Getting to the top is optional

My mom snapped this while we were out hiking a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked more badass than I do right here — pink water bottle and all. (If you know me in real life, you know there’s nothing badass about me whatsoever, but the camera adds 10 pounds of badassery.)

Ironically, it was taken during a hike up Grandeur Peak when we didn’t make it to the summit: After hiking through two feet of fresh powder for an hour towards the top, we hit a dodgy spot just 20 vertical feet from the summit and turned back. Twenty feet!

That was an educational experience, to say the least; I thought I knew this mountain pretty well, but the depth of the snow up top was a complete surprise. I hope to be hiking up mountains for years to come, eventually rather taller ones, and I suspect that 20′ record will stand for some time.

Categories
Story games Tabletop RPGs

My daughter’s first RPG session

I wanted my daughter Lark’s first RPG experience to be one that reflected her personality and interests (at age 4), so I designed one, Storylike, for us to play New Game Day. I snapped this photo from her first-ever gaming session.

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

This is officially the weirdest collectible I own: the first printing of the collected edition of Squadron Supreme, which has creator Mark Gruenwald’s cremains mixed into its ink. My wife says we should keep a camera on it at all times, just to see what happens.

I was given the final issue of the series by a teacher in 4th or 5th grade, and it was like no other superhero comic I’d read before: no clear villains, just two groups of “good guys” killing each other. I read and reread it dozens of times, and it’s fair to say that part of my love of deconstructed superhero comics comes from Squadron Supreme #12.

Yet, somehow, I never went back to read the rest of the series. I’m looking forward to rectifying that.