Monday, July 22, 2013

Story: Perfect Match

After several months, I finally managed to write a story! This is another Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge. This one was to get a random plot and write a story from that. I'll keep what my result was until the end. I wouldn't want it to spoil anything.


Mike double checked the form to join Satisfied that he'd filled out the form without embellishments, he hit the submit button. He sat back and wondered when, or if, he'd get a response when his computer signalled that he had an email.

Expecting a welcome message from the dating site, he leaned forward and opened his inbox. That email was there, but in addition was an email saying he had a message in his FindYourMatch mailbox. A wave of excitement tore through Mike as he went back to his browser and refreshed the page. Sure enough, there was a message from a woman with the simple title of "Interested in meeting". Another wave of excitement, this time mixed with nervousness, hit him. He clicked the link waited eagerly for the page to load.

He was greeted by an image of a woman in a flight suit standing by a fighter jet. The image told him that she was a pretty brunnette of average height that is or was in the military as a pilot. Her message was short and to the point. Her name is Pam, and she read his bio and was interested in a meet up tonight.

He fired off a message back to tell her he was interested in meeting. Before he could even sit back again, he got a reply telling him where to meet her. He looked at his watch and jumped up. He didn't have much time to get ready if he was to make it on time.

When he arrived, he saw someone who looked like Pam talking to the hostess and walked over. "Pam?"

She glanced at her watch and nodded. "Ah, five minutes early, excellent." She looked up at him and smiled. Mike thought she had a beautiful smile. She held her hand out and said, "It's nice to meet you, Michael."

Mike cursed himself for putting his full name on his profile. The only person who called him Michael was his mother. He took her hand and shook it, smiling back at her. "Everyone calls me Mike, actually."

Pam frowned and said, "Well, Mike, it's customary to put your preferred name into your profile." She made a wave of dismissal. "Never mind. Our table is ready, shall we?"

Mike nodded and followed Pam and the hostess to their table. They looked over the menu in awkward silence for a few moments before Mike said, "I just signed up for FindYourMatch today, so I was a little surprised to get your message."

"I have an alert for when a man in my area signs up that meets certain criteria. It is more efficient than sifting through old and out of date profiles," Pam replied.

Mike nodded. "That makes sense. I didn't know you could do that alert thing."

Their waiter arrived then and asked, "Are you ready to order?"

"Typically, you're supposed to ask for our drink orders first," Pam said. "However, I am ready to order my meal. How about you, Mike?"

Mike nodded and they ordered their meals and drinks. As Pam was ordering, Mike looked her over and decided there was something he really liked about her, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

The waiter left and Mike said, "So, are you a pilot? In your profile pic, you are standing next to some sort of fighter."

Pam smiled and Mike thought again that she had a beautiful smile. "Yeah, that one is a ZF-132. It was fun to fly, but probably won't make it to production."

"What does that mean? I've never heard of that model," Mike replied.

"You'll likely never hear of it. It failed several tests regarding safety, operability and performance." Seeing that Mike was still confused, she added, "I'm a test pilot for the USAF."

"Oh, that must be dangerous," Mike said, concern in his voice.

Pam laughed, "It's not as bad as in, say, 1950, but it can be dangerous. Fortunately, we haven't lost a pilot since I joined the 412th a few years ago." She looked down at the table. "The silverware isn't placed correctly. The fork goes on the left and the knife on the right."

Mike noted that his silverware was misplaced and corrected it, too. He looked back up at Pam and said, "I'm glad we could meet up for a date-"

"You're mistaken, Mike, this is just an informal meet up, not a date," Pam interrupted.

Mike was taken aback a little, but continued, "Err, as I was saying, I'm glad we could meet up on such short notice. I'm having a good time."

Their meals came and Mike told Pam about being a college math teacher. Then, Pam told Mike more about being a test pilot. They ordered dessert and another round of drinks. At closing time, the waiter brought them their bills.

Mike reached for both checks and said, "I can cover these."

Pam quickly scooped up her bill and shook her head. "Maybe on the first date, Mike, but it wouldn't be proper for you to pay for my meal at an informal meeting of friends."

"So, you're saying that we're going to have a first date?" Mike asked with a smile on his face.


Have you been able to guess the scenario?  My scenario was:
The story starts when your protagonist joins an online dating site.
Another character is a test pilot who wants everything done by the rules.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I've been trying to get my kids exposure to baseball by hitting whiffle balls and tennis balls to them at the park. Well, the other day they weren't interested in running around and chasing balls, so they decided to play at the park. I didn't want to do that, so I started hitting the whiffle ball and tennis ball around the open space at the park.

After a while I started to make a game of it. I hit the tennis ball as far as I could, then tried to get the whiffle ball to it in as few hits as possible. It hit me that this goal was the same as golf, so I started making a few rules and came up with Basegolf.

Here's what you need to play:
1 baseball bat
1 whiffle ball per player
1 tennis ball

I'm using an aluminum bat, I don't know how a wooden bat would effect the game since I don't own one. If you try the game out with a wooden bat, let me know how it works out!

The rules are simple and designed for solo or group play.  The game is best played in a large space with some obstacles, but probably not a heavily wooded area.

You start the game in one corner of the area you intend to play in.  Make sure all players know what the out of bounds, or foul territory will be as if they hit a foul ball, it will cost them a stroke.  You may decide, however makes sense to you, who goes first. That person will take the tennis ball and hit it as far or close as they want.  The tennis ball is the "hole" that the players must hit their whiffle balls to.  Players take turns "teeing off" by throwing their whiffle ball into the air and hitting it towards the hole.  Then, the players farthest away from the hole take turns hitting until everyone has "sunk" their whiffle ball.  A whiffle ball counts as getting into the hole when it is within a bat's length of the tennis ball.

Once everyone has finished the hole, the next player will hit the tennis ball from the point it landed for the prior hole.  If the tennis ball is in the middle of the play area, and all players agree (or a judge if you have one), the hitting player may chuck their whiffle ball in any direction and hit the tennis ball from where their whiffle ball lands instead of from the spot of the prior hole.

Putting: You can putt by leaving your whiffle ball on the ground and hitting it with the bat.  I've considered making a rule about how you can't putt unless you're on the "green", but I haven't decided what the definition of the green would be.  If you have an idea, leave it in the comments.

Foul balls: As I mentioned before, the play area has a boundary.  Balls hit outside of this boundary are considered foul and cost the player a stroke.  They will drop the ball at the boundary where the ball left fair territory for their next stroke.  This changes a little for the tennis ball.  Instead of a plain drop, the player must make an underhand throw from the boundary.  This still causes the player a stroke.

Whiffs, Strikes and Biffs: If you don't know, a whiff is when a player misses hitting the ball when they throw it up to hit it.  This is a strike.  When you get three strikes, it costs you a stroke.  A Biff is when you hit the ball and it goes less than 10 feet.  This is a strike and you must try to hit the ball from where you started.

Finishing the game: The game is done when the players want it to be done.  The players can agree beforehand on a number of holes, or you could play the standard 9 or 18 holes like in golf.

Scoring: Count the number of strokes it takes each player to sink their whiffle ball in the hole.  At the end of the game, the player with the fewest strokes wins.

Par: I consider Par an optional rule as it can be hard for a group to agree on what the par should be on a particular hole.  It would be easier if you have a judge, I guess.

Strategies: I've considered a few strategies as I was playing by myself.  One, hit the tennis ball as close to foul territory as you can without being foul.  This has risk, but could be good if an opponent hits foul trying to get to the hole.  Two, utilize obstacles to make getting to the hole harder.  Also risky, but if you're confident in your skills, might be worth it.  Three, bunting or "pitching" can be a good tactic when you're too close to swing away and too far to putt.  Leave any other strategies that you come up with in the comments!

I've played Basegolf a few times by myself, but I think it would be fun with a partner or group.  One warning, I've already broken one whiffle ball in half with my aluminum bat, so that's something you've got to watch out for.  Try out the game and let me know if you enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Geekonablog News

I can't believe that I haven't posted since April 23rd.  It doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but I guess that I've let things go around here for a while.

Well, let me tell you what's been going on in my life.  In April, I started on a new team at work, which I mentioned in my last post.  We're creating a new web page configuration app for the new web platform that Best Buy (me included) has been working on for over a year.  You may have noticed changes to Best Buy's product pages, I had a hand in that work and now I'm on the team that is going to allow more pages to go to the new cloud-based platform by having a tool to configure those pages that isn't based on the old platform.  I know that this description is a little hand-wavey, but I'm not sure how much I should be sharing.  I figure that just mentioning I'm doing this work is safe enough.

Since April, my family and I have gone on two vacations.  The first one was with my family family.  Meaning the family that I started with my wife and the family I was born into (mom, dad, brother, sister and her family).  We stayed at a cabin that my sister found online.  It was awesome!  Fishing every day, hanging out, playing games, relaxing.

The second vacation was camping at the Hayward, WI KOA.  We stayed there three days and two nights with some friends.  I've stayed at that KOA and the Hixton, WI, and I would recommend either of them for anyone looking for a good time.  They have plenty of activities and they are reasonably priced.  We stayed in a small cabin (basically four walls and beds).  When the kids grow up a little, we'll probably try it with a tent.

Other than that, it's summer, so some more fishing, swimming, working in the yard, etc.  Busy, busy.  I have missed writing here and writing stories.  I've been wanting to get back to some of my serial stories (Uroth, Candy Land, maybe even Thaw Deal).  I've also wanted to do more Chuck Wendig challenges, but haven't had any weekend time to do those.  Look for something (hopefully) soon.

In the non-fiction realm, I think I might write a post about Pair Programming.  I used to be against the concept, but my new team does it and I think that I can see the benefits, but more on that when I write that post.