Keiko Online

Blog Home of D.L. Owens


World of Keiko 01/23/2016

Hey there! It has been a couple of months since my last update. Not much has happened here, though that isn’t a defense for my slackness in posting. I will attempt to post more regularly. On a good note, one of the locals that I have befriended has prompted me to get me back into a blog schedule. Shout out to Nikki!
The weather of late has moved between windy to still, hot and dry, to muggy or wet. The birds have been busy, with many making short work of the fruit from the various mango trees along the creek behind the house. The finches, sunbirds, crows, parrots, magpies, etc… all like mangoes apparently. I find it interesting to see how many critters make use of the fruit and/or tree. The usual collection of Pee Wees, Willy Wagtails and and Plovers have been around, though the cockatoos, pigeons and doves seem to be hanging out more on the other side of the creek these days. “Turkey Joe” the Bush Turkey occasionally pokes his head up for some noms, but I think that it might be getting too hot even for him. The cranes and storks have been hunting in the creek along with ducks and water hens. Not much activity in the way of the several raptor species that live around here, and I believe may be hunting closer to their nests. Given that I haven’t gone for a walk down to the campsite, no new sightings of the brolgas. I might go for a walk again sometime next week.
Anyway, I suppose that I should tell you what I’ve been up to.

Hubby and I watched the new Star Wars on Christmas Eve. We found it to doing a great job of emulating the original mid-trilogy.
We’ve been working through the episodes of the heavily thrilled yet oddly addictive show Blacklist. We watched and I mildly enjoyed the first season of Vikings, but I found myself easily distracted. We also finished up Heroes: Reborn as well, a series that had so many easily avoidable technical errors and plot screw-ups. We are currently up to date with Elementary, a show that I finally got hubby back into after a six month hiatus. When we first started watching it, he was a little distracted by the show Sherlock. Although Sherlock is good, there is something oddly charming about Elementary that makes me more inclined to watch it over Sherlock which is also a good show. I couldn’t quite get hubby interested in Lost Girl or Unforgettable, in spite of myself enjoying the first episode of both shows. Expanse, Billions and Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands are all promising for their own reasons. As for The 100, I found it to be a bit too focused on “attractive teens” then deal with some of the plot problems that crop up. Even the apparently starving and air-deprived people tend to be in good condition. I am considering getting back into Grim at some stage, but I doubt that I’ll go back to Sleepy Hollow as the first episode was exceptionally weak in my personal opinion.
As for anime, we finished the first seasons of Overlord (an odd quasi-fantasy series, but it has neat characters and a solid storyline), One Punch Man (epic superhero silliness that is freaking hilarious), Tokyo Ghoul (the main character is a little whiny, but it has some nice world-building and a solid storyline to make use of some really neat characters) and No Game No Life (weird, but brilliant funny series). We are now watching Terror in Resonance, a show about two young terrorists in Japan that stole a nuclear weapon months ahead of the beginning of their campaign of terror. It touches on the reasons behind their hatred, time spent at an institution. We see the story partially through the eyes of a troubled girl that has been forced to join them or die after noticing one at the site of their first bombings. As for anime series that I am currently considering watching next, I am currently thinking Fairy Tail, Parasyte: The Maximum and Karneval.

Not much in either department actually. Some mild edits of plot layouts, but I still haven’t moved my work over to onenote for better organization of my work. Its funny that I have been talking doing so for months but still haven’t done it. I suppose that it is simply linked to old habits. On a good note, OneNote 2016 looks awesome and my computer is having a lot less issues since moving to Windows 10. BTW, I am really digging Windows 10.
As for reading, I have been spending more time reading non-fiction articles predominantly related to language learning. I did make some headway on a LibriVox recording of American Indian Fairy Tales by Larned and Schoolcraft as read by Chip from Tampa Bay in Florida. I have listened to some of Chip’s narration before and enjoy his voice. I have a few more stories to go before I am done, but seriously need to up my reading if I want to get anywhere near my reading challenge target for the year. Last year’s result was atrocious, but understandable given the move and other stuff that happened.

What have you working on? Been reading any good books?

I haven’t done much “formal” (def. formatted for institutional use) study in the last few months, my momentum and subsequent enthusiasm being stilted by the hot weather and Christmas break.  It has been a little annoying, which is odd given that study was meant to augment my understanding of the world rather than to become a chore. That being said, I still have some genuinely interesting self-paced MOOCs on medieval text (scrolls, books and printing) by Harvard at EdX waiting to be completed.
That being said, I did finally bring out the Duolingo app on my Windows phone a few weeks ago and started using it. I haven’t done any lessons since early last year, but some of the words were still familiar to me. I became addicted to the lessons, even ignoring the computer game RIFT until two days ago. I am predominantly focusing on Portuguese and Dutch at present, two languages that also tie in well with other languages. Dutch and German use a lot of similar words, whilst Portuguese has a lot in common with Spanish. Having some mild background in both, Dutch and Portuguese seemed like good choices. Of the two, I have taken a real liking to Dutch. The only issue is that I sometimes use the German equivalent of a word by mistake. At least I don’t have to I originally decided to give Portuguese a run because of a recommendation by Jose “StrawHatRican” Morales, a gamer, youtube, writer friend of mine when I asked about alternatives to Spanish.
In lieu of my renewed focus on language learning, I have enrolled in “The Bilingual Brain” at Coursera, a course that I started a while back but wasn’t able to finish due to some personal stuff that came up. I have also started using OneNote for lecture notes. This method will likely not be as useful when I start learning a language with different script as adding symbols from a vastly different language can be a real pain in the ass. I have done some research on websites from which to learn either Korean (top pick for reason of the logical script that was implemented a decade or so ago), Cantonese, Mandarin (Man- Darren) or Japanese. However, I want to become somewhat proficient in something that I am currently learning before moving on to something different.

What have you been learning of late?

As mentioned above, I have been playing a lot less RIFT of late due to language learning. It feels odd actually, though it feels more like a chore logging in to my account these days. Though I also have Black Desert Online, I suspect that I probably won’t be playing much in the upcoming year. I don’t believe that this is necessarily a loss.

Which games have you been playing recently?

Have I been exercising as much as I’d like to say that I do? Nope. I did add some calf raises and inverted situps into my infrequent 10km on the treadmill, but have found my recent attempts to do push-ups to be an issue due to a bung right wrist. As for diet,

How are your own health and fitness goals panning out?

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Playlist 01/21/2016

It has been several years since I posted my last playlist, and this post signals the return of the periodic playlists. In this installment, I will be offering up a collection of alternative and indie gems that I encourage you guys to check out. Enjoy!

  1. Gypsies & Sinners by Parlours from Dreamers (EP) Available via Noisetrade and iTunes. #alternative #altpop
  2. Skip the Line by Sugar and the Hi-Lows from Sugar + the Hi Lows (album) Check out availability via their official website. #indie #rockabilly
  3. Home by Thom Lyons from Thom Lyons (self-titled album) Available via Noisetrade and iTunes. #indie #folkrock #singersongwriter
  4. Usagi no Uta by Grand Hallway from Promenade (album) Available via Bandcamp and iTunes. #alternative #altfolk
  5. Where the Wild Things Are by Moon and Sun from The Wild Things (album) Available from Jamendo and Bandcamp. #alternative #altfolk #triphop
  6. Tamer Animals by Other Lives from Tamer Animals (album) Available via iTunes. #indie #alternative
  7. Shake, Shake, Shake by Bronze Radio Return from A Bit of Bronze (Sampler) Available via Noisetrade. #alternative #indie
  8. I Was Made for Sunny Days by The Weepies from Be My Thrill (album) Available from various music download services, and as part of a Noisetrade sampler. #indie
  9. Black Trees by Julie Kathryn from Black Trees (album) Available via Black Trees @Noisetrade and iTunes. #alternative #singersongwriter
  10. Headphonetic by Revolution Void from Increase the Dosage (album) Available from Jamendo and Bandcamp. official website #indie #electronic #nujazz
  11. Gene Campi by Twin Sister from In Heaven (album) Available from various music download services. #indie #retro
  12. Turtle by Wind Whistles from Animals Are People Too (album Available via Jamendo, iTunes,, and a host of other websites. #indie #folk #folkpop
  13. Shine for the Rest of Us by The Tokyo Connection from Father / Son (album) Available via Jamendo. official website #indie #electrofolk #electronic
  14. I Saw the Light That Day by The 88 from I Saw the Light That Day (Deluxe Single) Available via Noisetrade. official website #alternative #altrock
  15. Happy by C2C from Tetra (album) Available from various music download services. official website youtube channel #indie #gospelz

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World of Keiko 12/07/2015

It has been several months since my last post. Things have been fairly quiet, as hubby and I are still adjusting to life in the the new place. In early November, the drought (more an indication of low rainfall due to winter) broke, the associated storms causing power outages and some flooding. The trees are now covered in new growth, which nectar-eaters and insects love. The heavy rainfall has also led to a bunch of new critters being more active, such as birds (many of which are nesting young now or trying to attract mates) and insects that have left a dormant state.
One such creature is the Yellow-Bellied Sunbird (also known as the Olive-Backed Sunbird) [check out this article as well: Yellow-bellied Sunbird @Thala Beach Nature Reserve], a typically diurnal nectar-eater living in Asia and certain parts of Australia. As hubby and I were going to bed last night, we saw one eating bugs outside one of our kitchen windows. According to a wiki article on the adorable little avians, the habit is associated with nursing babies. The article did not mention nocturnal habits nor did it mention that those suckers can hover for short periods of time. I find these little guys fascinating for obvious reasons. They have a small yet familiar chirp and are around the size of a finch, but hovers like a hummingbird. Their beaks are slightly curved and long, a lovely yellow belly and olive back. The little guy that we saw last night was lovely, one of several that like to hang out on the poinciana trees juxtaposing the main road in town and the river behind our house. I highly recommend that folks check out both links and also do a search for these pretty little birds.

English: Cinnyris jugularis - male Olive-backe...

English: Cinnyris jugularis – male Olive-backed Sunbird hovering while feeding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We also saw the little furry critter again about a month ago. It appears to have an elongated snout, making it resemble a bilby rather than a quoll (the species also has a slightly elongated snout, but I haven’t found any with a grey-tan fur), a possum (flatter face, move differently and much quicker) or a rabbit (a rabbit has a flatter face and moves differently). It is still a mystery, but I am sure that hubby and I will find more clues over time. As a sidenote, I haven’t not seen a cat since moving here.

Not much on the reading and writing front. I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but hope to next year. Congratulations to those that participated though, regardless of whether you hit your desired wordcount. You made a decision to write something, but don’t forget that the writing doesn’t finish there. If you didn’t finish, either make an effort to do so or use elements from whatever you have completed in other works. Feel free to let me know what you end up doing.

Though I haven’t done a lot of study over the past few months, I did manage to finish three courses on EdX this past week. These are:

  • The Business of Mining by Curtain University: a four-module introductory course dealing with the lifespan, issues and economics of mining. It was a short yet solid overview of mining, that also covered to some degree how to read geo-models. Each module has numerous activities, videos and several assessment on a separate website that hooks into EdX once you get your last course badge. My only criticism is that there was effectively an unlimited number of shots at the assessments.  50% minimum for a pass. Rating: 7/10 (The material was solid, but I am slightly more interested in other subjects)
  • Pet Birds 101 by University of Tennesee:  an introductory course covering the physiology and care of birds that are commonly kept as birds. There are three major sections, each broken up into separately assessed multiple choice assessment that follow at least one video. The material is mature, though you will likely learn more about bird poop than you will likely want to. My only criticism is that you are given unlimited shots at the assessment questions which downplays the challenge. 70% minimum for a pass. Rating: 9/10 (I love birds and this gave me solid insight into various species. I highly recommend it for people that are fascinated by birds and/or biology)
  • Introduction to Linux by Linux Foundation: an introductory course dealing with the history of Linux, Linux distros, installation, some common command lines, etc… The material is broken up into 18 modules with a final for which your course score is derived. The videos are short, with most of the learning being from text that is infrequently confusing. This might require a few extra passes in preparation for the final exam. Given the steep learning curve to move to a Linux distro, I will likely give the O/S a pass. Rating: 6/10 (The material is complicated and periodically confusing. This might be a product of being a Windows fan though)

I am somewhat inclined to primarily enroll in self-paced courses from now on, with EdX being the clear winner over Coursera given that self-paced materials at Coursera have certain limitations, such as a lack of a free audit certificate for passing and limit on study time. The more time that I spend at EdX though, the more that I like the platform. There is a different focus, with EdX being non-profit yet still focused on providing high quality learning materials. Compare this with the profit and corporate focus of Coursera. This is not to say that Coursera is in any way evil, but sometimes money gets in the way of learning.

I am now back to playing RIFT, but started playing ArcheAge yesterday. I tried to play ArcheAge back before I formatted my computer, resulting in some huge issues such as not being able to get past the character creation section. This time around, I still have some mild issues but I am loving what I’ve played of my Firran Vitalist so far. Folks that have played Guild Wars 2 will find some of the elements similar, but it feels a bit similar to how Black Desert Online appears to be but without the action combat. [BTW, I played GW2 for about a week in there, but got a bit bored after hubby stopped playing. It is quite lovely as well, but there are some limitations for f2p peeps that are annoying, such as being locked into a single server, which can only be changed to another using a premium token. The freedom to move around different servers is something that I love about RIFT actually.] ArcheAge has a more coherent and immersive storyline so far compared to RIFT, but I will see if that holds up over time as I progress through the game with Meownow. Yes, that is the name that I chose for my character – don’t judge me! :-D
Hubby also pre-ordered us both a Conqueror’s Pack for Black Desert Online which gets us into the upcoming beta test automatically. Folks interested in giving the game a run should apply for the beta, but realise that the western realise is buy-to-play like Guild Wars and The Secret World is. If you do end up playing, let me know about your own experiences in-game.
I might give Devilian a run after it goes out of beta, but also have other action RPGs such as Marvel Heroes and Diablo 3. I am hoping that Lost Ark has a western release as it looks gorgeous, but it isn’t guaranteed.

Hubby and I got a LifeSpan Rise treadmill recently and I try to do around 10km on it each day, along with some situps and pushups. Adding situps has led to some abdominal soreness though, leading to a few days off while I recover enough to be able to roll over in bed without excessive pain. Oddly enough, no real issue doing the pushups though apart from odd pains in one of my wrists one of the days. I want to get fit and healthy, but have to be realistic in that it will take some time due to how much extra weight that I am carrying. I will have to be patient and stick with it, keeping an eye on my diet. I keep eating unhealthy food though, which doesn’t help. I am slowly getting there though.


World of Keiko 09/01/2015

We are now settling in to our new home. We drove to the new place last Tuesday after sleeping on the floor of our previous home the night before. Tuesday morning was made a little sketchy when hubby noticed that the bit of metal that held our exhaust to the back of the Corvette had decided to divorce the frame. So, hubby ended up buying some wire from Bunnings in Hervey Bay and got me to hold up the now called exhaust into place while he tied it to some convenient parts of the frame. It is temporary, obviously, but it held up quite well for our seven and a half hour drive. Note that the state government is also having lots of work done on the Bruce Highway. We can see the road from our place, which mainly consists of large trucks.
We arrived to a home that we’d been lucky to see the side of in a photo of another place. Nice enclosed verandas, but some odd choices for the two bedrooms. The area under the place is low, which means the we can park the Corvette there but not the Jimny. Given that the Jimny will arrive on a truck in a couple of days, we will have to leave some of our shopping until after. This will hopefully include a trip to one of the three Bunnings in Mackay. Yes, I do like Bunnings. For folks in the USA, Bunnings is quite similar to Home Depot. We don’t live too far from a nice beach. We can see the mountains from our back steps, and there is a quaint river with abundant bird life running directly behind our house. Hubby informed me yesterday from crocodiles have been seen along the stretch over the years, but I am not going to poke around what is a steep hill in order to catch a glimpse at a rather neat looking reptile that I can more easily watch videos of on Youtube.
We drove to Mackay on Friday to get an idea of what the place is like and went for our pre-planned lunch at Sizzler. Nice place, though the trip was a little warm. Sure glad that we were thoughtful enough to put on sunscreen before the drive there with the top down. Mackay turns out to be bigger than Hervey Bay, with better shops as well. The problem is the drive, which is around 75 minutes.
Nearby shopping consists of a nice Woolworths in Sarina, with some decent fast food places, a Reject Shop and a Target Country nearby. We drove there the first night for supplies and grabbed some food from Subway on the way out. There are some small communities in between, but these predominantly consist of corner stores, one pub and some sort of mechanic workshop. The two latter are to cover the local cane and cattle farmers.

I went for my first walk yesterday, a blistering-inducing 9.2km. A large portion of the walk to the beach was beside cane fields in various stages of harvest. Not as picturesque as in Hervey Bay, but not terrible given that sweet smell. I also made the acquaintance of numerous birds along the way, including a couple of (what I believe to be) Blue Cranes that were hunting in a recently harvested cane field. Those suckers were nearly as big as me, with intimidating wingspans.

How is the internet here? It is quicker than back in Hervey Bay, though we’ve had a few hiccups since arriving last Tuesday, since as an outage today and some bandwidth issues on Tuesday night. We’ve also had at least one blackout as well, likely something that the electricity company has been attempting to address during recent maintenance sessions.
In lieu of the internet situation, hubby and I are sorted as far as gaming is concerned. I am looking forward to getting stuck in to writing and study after we are a bit more settled.


World of Keiko 08/22/2015

It has been a little over a month since my last update and things have progressed. We’ll be moving into our new place next Monday and should be settling in by this time next week. Moving is a pain in the butt, but the move will be a step in a position direction. Both trucks arrive Monday, with the main stuff arriving on Wednesday and the Jimny being delivered on the 3rd of September. It is a little annoying, but we at least have the Corvette and potentially hubby’s work car.
For those interested, our internet service is point-to-point wireless via the NBN. It is supposed to be quick, but we’ll have to wait and see how reliable it is when we arrive in the new place. Regardless, one would think that it will be better than the crappy DSL connection that we have in Hervey Bay. The infrastructure in the Bay is highly taxed and is not likely to be upgraded anytime soon.

I formatted and reinstalled Windows a few weeks ago. My machine is running nicely, and I am trying to avoid habits that led to the computer getting to such a poor state in the first place. I don’t want to fall into bad habits again. That being said, it is not feasible to be guarded all of the time. I suppose that we will have to see how we go.
As for Windows 10, hubby and I will be upgrading after we’ve settled into the new place. It looks sweet, though I still have a few questions about what will happen should I need to reinstall my OS again after the 12 months are up. On a good note, Microsoft has created some courses over at MVA to make the transition easier.

As far as things that I’ve learnt are concerned, I highly recommend folks also assaulting one’s social networking contacts with great prejudice in order to free up time for meaningful discussions and creative endeavors rather than be bombarded with nonsense and sales pitches. Also note that just because you have unfollowed somebody on twitter, you may still have somebody’s feed integrated with lists, hence I would recommend dealing with and keeping your lists neat and tidy. Also, it is not a bad thing to be discerning about which sites that you visit as seemingly mundane sites may expose your computer to security breaches.

I haven’t spent much time playing computer games of late, but I have reinstalled and played Diablo III multiplayer. Hubby and I made seasonal characters for season 3, playing enough content to get a pennant. Season 4 starts in a little over a week and we’ve both decided to work through all of the achievements necessary to get all of the season 4 bling, such as the pet. Yes, I like pets.It looks like hubby might give Heroes of the Storm a run as well, something that I am stoked about.
I have been sure to install a bunch of offline steam games in preparation for potential internet issues in the new place. This includes several JRPGs that I’ve been meaning to play through for a while now, as well as some point+click and visual novels. Not much graphically, but these games at least offer a bit in the way of storyline and character development.

To the question of study, I will see how I feel after the move. I am currently inclined to do self-paced courses rather than those restricted by intake. One of those courses is on canine cognition, something that is rather fascinating to me.

Anyway, I have to start our last pen and paper RPG session (Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition) in the house in a tick. I may just get to play my Aarakocra Monk secondary character.

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Pimp a Patreon: Godless in Dixie

Neil Carter Online: Facebook, Twitter, Patreon, Patheos

In this second installment of Pimp a Patreon, we are taking a look at Neil Carter’s Godless in Dixie patreon. As some of you are already aware, I am an atheist. Though I won’t be focusing much on this aspect of my life in this blog, I feel that it is important for atheists living in fundamentalist religious areas to get the support that they need. Whilst Neil’s patheos blog posts do a great job of offering some insight into the life of an Atheist living in Mississippi, there is still some ways in which he’d like to contribute further. I highly recommend that folks check out the Patreon and his other manifestations online to see if you’d like to contribute to the cause. Even if you don’t end up offering financial support, you’ll likely find his blog posts to be thought-provoking and relevant.

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Changes to Social Networking

A few days ago, I made a major decision about how I use social networking. It was a difficult decision, but a decision that I’ve been considering for several months. This requires me to unfriend and unfollow a bunch of people in order to free up time for personal projects. It is in no way about angst or some crazy political agenda. It is not about my atheism either. It really is about making better use of my time.

I will not be unfollowing family and folks that I have actually met. I will primarily stick with only a few writers, podcasters, musicians, artists and educators that I have regular contact with. I will not be continuing contact with folks that post nonsense, hate and hypocrisy because that is exhausting. I am tired of seeing material that can easily be debunked, of which I have noted some repeat offenders in recent months. I really can make better use of my time and I doubt that the folks that are affected want to see my lengthy posts anyway. This obviously includes pages for journalistic websites and blogs. As for religious stuff, I doubt that there will be any major issue given that most of my theist friends don’t post the sort of rubbish that that I am referring to.

I feel a little guilty about this change but it can be a real pain going through lengthy feeds. I have made a start on Facebook but will hopefully start work on twitter contacts soon. It will take a bit of time to make a lot more time for myself in the long-term. I am looking to have at least a first draft of a fantasy novel finished by the end of the year.


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