One Excellent Summer

A few years back I was in the middle of a massive web redesign project at work and feeling like summer was going to pass me by. I wrote the post “One Crazy Summer” to break myself out of that mind set and set myself some goals for the summer. It worked well.

This summer … I’m feeling echoes of that crazy summer. I don’t have a massive project looming over me, but still … it’s a big, busy summer. Between vacations, work, NeutronLad starting Boy Scouts, me winding down being Cubmaster for Cub Scouts … it’s a lot. I’m feeling the same need to take a step back, get some perspective, and set some goals.

Read 17 books: It’s the summer, so Ken must be reading books. This time around I’ve got 17 novels, 1 novella, and 8 graphic novels on my summer reading list. It’s the standard mix of space opera and military science fiction, with a little alternate reality and fantasy mixed in.

Watch movies!: There are some good ones coming out this summer, starting with Guardians of the Galaxy and continuing with Wonder Woman, War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-man: Homecoming, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and The Dark Tower. I’d like to see them all and — if possible — catch one of them at Becky’s Drive-in.

Go West: My family and I have a big trip west planned for June, in which we visit relatives in Utah, then head to Wyoming to spend a week in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks. This is going to be more of a traditional Yellowstone trip than a backcountry one; we’ll be taking in the traditional sites (e.g. Old Faithful, Mammoth Falls) and hanging out with family. It should give me an opportunity to read a book or three, either on the plane or in the car.

Go to the beach: Over the last few years I’ve come to realize that I really enjoy going to the Jersey Shore; it’s something that I did a lot of as a kid, but grew away from as an adult. Late last summer I took a day to go down the shore by myself and do nothing but read and swim; I’d like to do that again. I’d also like to take the family one day as well, spending it reading, swimming and soaking in the rays, then ending it with a trip to the Lakewood Blueclaws (Single A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies)

Go to Lake Champlain: In addition to going west, my family will be heading to Lake Champlain at some point for our traditional vacation there. That’s probably the high point of the summer for me — it’s when I get to read the most books, play D&D in the cabin with the kids, and generally spend a week burning off stress.

More disc golf! Coaching and Boy Scouts ate up a lot of my free time this spring so my friends and I have only gotten in a handful of rounds of disc golf. I’m looking to change that this summer. It’d be awesome if we could get back to a round a week, but even a round every other week would be good.

Launch more rockets: Two summers ago we initiated the College Hill Space program, building Viking rockets with the kids and launching them at Hackett Park in Easton, Pa. Since then I built another, more advanced rocket but it’s sat in my home office waiting for decals and its launch date. It’s time to give it one.

Building toward 195: Thanks to my exercise regime, I weighed in on Memorial Day at 207 lbs. I’d like to get that down to 200 — or lower — by the end of the summer. As I did when I was fighting to get to 210 lbs., I’m incentivizing myself with LEGOS; if I hit 195 I’m going to build a LEGO Millennium Falcon.

Complete Fire Emblem: Awakening: I started this game in June 2015. It says I’ve logged over 80 hours, but the actual number is probably two or three times as much. In true Fire Emblem style, I played it on the traditional mode in which characters who die in combat stay dead. If someone died who I wanted to survive, I’d quit the game and restart (this was my first Fire Emblem game, but I’m told this behavior is perfectly normal). After a few pauses I finally got to the final battle … and hit a wall. This summer, that wall comes down.

Complete DragonQuest IX: My friend Cory got me hooked on DragonQuest IX for the Nintendo DS. I played a number of JRPGs when I was reviewing games for SyFy in the late 1990s and 2000s, but this was the first one I really loved. I played the hell out of it in the summer of 2010, easily logging 80 hours of questing. I cruised into the final battle and then — like Fire Emblem a few years later — I hit a wall. The final battle was insane, and it turns out my impressive characters weren’t up to the task. Other games came along and I set DragonQuest aside; this summer I’m picking it up again (assuming I beat Fire Emblem).

Cue the epic 1980s-style training montage of grinding monsters, crafting powerful new items, and seeking out lost dungeons.

Complete Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Noticing a theme yet? Ocarina of TIme is my white whale; I started the game when it came out for the Nintendo 64 way back in 1998. I loved the game … but only got about halfway through it (probably because of my greater love for GoldenEye and Perfect Dark).

When it came out for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, I eagerly bought it thinking “yes, I can finally beat this game!” I made it farther … but still got stuck. At this point both of my kinds have beaten the game, so it’s a matter of personal geek dad honor to finish it.

Finishing three video games in one summer sounds like a lot, but in reality most of these games are 95% done (with the exception of Ocarina of Time, which is more like 85%). That should be doable.

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