Dungeons and Dragons

Image result for critical role

Image credit: Geek and Sundry

So it is no secret that I have been super into Critical Role a Dungeons and Dragons game shown on Twitch every Thursday night. In the show a bunch of nerdy voice actors sit around and play their game which has been going on for about 5 years. These actors have been prevalent in their careers and many are in shows and video games. They speak and often stay in character for much of the show which plays out much like the radio dramas of the 40s except with improvisation added on top of it.

The ring leader of the entire show is Matthew Mercer, who as the show’s Dungeon Master, has the incredible task of making the world come to life with thrilling story hooks and wondrous and detailed descriptions.

Image result for dungeons and dragons

Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons and Dragons

These wonderful actors have inspired me to start my own campaign of D&D. After watching Matthew Mercer’s DM Tips show on the Geek and Sundry YouTube page I began to scour for more resources on how to be a great Dungeon Master. I stumbled across Matthew Coville’s YouTube and was hit with a cornucopia of wonderful information. I consumed several hours of his wonderful videos learning more and more how to do what I saw Matthew Mercer do seemingly effortlessly.

Which leads me to running my first session. I used some of the advice I had learned from the two “Matt’s” and created a small village for my players to begin in. Then I used the resources from Matthew Coville’s YouTube page to plan my encounters. He has wonderful pre-generated supplements for the Tavern like menu’s and people talking down to story hooks like rewards for Goblin pieces and a Blacksmith’s daughter being taken by goblins.

My first time in the DM’s chair did not run so smoothly. There are many things that I need to keep track of. I decided as I was going that many times, instead of having all of the goblins I payed interacting as individuals, I would have them all go at once for combat purposes. I also used some of the average statistics for some of the monsters, so that I could keep the flow of combat high, in order to keep the players engaged.  There are many challenges to running every character that the players encounter. The players asked me what a character was wearing, which was one thing that I did not have written down and had to improvise. Improvisation is much like a muscle: it gets stronger the more you use it. I took an improvisation class in high school, and that was the last time that I actively improvised to produce a creative product. In many ways I use improv skills at work as a teacher, however it is very different. At least I feel it is… In many ways I feel that I am more comfortable improving to students because I simply know more about a topic than they do. I can usually figure out the answer faster than they can, and even if I can’t “I don’t know, but I’ll look it up,” is an acceptable answer. In the case of D&D, I feel like it is my responsibility to be omnipotent when it comes to this world that I have created, when in reality, I know a lot about a small area. If the players decide to explore an area that I have not designed yet, what do I do then?

Much of my feeling can be summed up in a mechanic of a game I played as a kid. I used to play “Heroes of Might and Magic,” which was a turn based strategy game. When a new game was started, you could see a small portion of the map around your town, and as your Hero moved around the map, more would be revealed. This is very much how I feel about the Realm of Azmar. Image result for heroes of might and magic game map

Image credit: http://www.celestialheavens.com/viewpage.php?id=508

We are continuing the story this Saturday! I have done SO much world building since then. I am really excited for my players to experience this world that I have created for them. I am also really excited for the deeds that they are going to perform that will either temporarily or permanently change this world for better or for worse.

I am interested in doing a vlog debrief after each session. That will be posted over on my DadtheGeek YouTube channel. Also please checkout wethecommittee.wordpress.com and our Stream at twitch.tv/wethecommittee as my friends and I stream our favorite video games. Join us for random fun adventures and be sure to keep up with us on all of our social media accounts. Follow and Like me and The Committee on Facebook and twitter.


4 Essentials for Training for a 5k

So you want to get back in shape? Awesome!  You want to get into running or your company is organizing a charity 5k? Even better! Luckily I just ran my first 5k just recently. Let me show you where to start. Here are my 4 geeky essentials for training successfully for a 5k.

1.  The Running App 

First things first, we need to have an app to keep track of your progress. While there are several out there, I have continued to land on an old standard, the Nike+Running app.  To put it simply, I enjoy the aesthetics and feel for this app. It has also stayed free to use all of the features, which some of the other competition has not. I also like the fact that you can link shoes to specific runs. Keeping track of the miles that you are putting on your shoes is actually very important as parts of the shoe may be wearing out before they seem visually worn out.  Another plus to the Nike+ app, is the fact that you can pick a “Power Song” which you can trigger during the hardest part of your run at the push of a button. The right beat at the right time could be incredibly helpful.

2.  The Health App

excercise is only a part of the health equation. In order to keep you on track in your diet as well as keeping an overall picture of your health, you need a health tracker.  Apple’s Health app does an alright job of managing the database of the health data gathered by your phone.  I however like to see the data presented in a way in which makes sense, and can be seen at a glance.  Azumio’s Argus app is that and more.  It accesses the step counter from your phone to count your steps, calculates your basal calories (calories burned by your body, simply by existing), and it keeps track of the nutritional information of the food you eat.  Food can be entered in a variety of ways; by creating a recipe, search or by scanning the bar code on the food’s packaging. Two of the coolest Argus features are the ability of the app to record your pulse using the phone’s camera, and the ability to monitor your sleep using the phone’s accelerometer. Which ever app you choose, you MUST get a full picture of your health, not just the things that you are doing to exercise.

3.  The Plan

The main thing that helped me was using a plan.  I am terrible when it comes to making a decision. My personality type makes me seem somewhat indecisive, simply because I am very much of the “measure twice cut once” mentality.  The fact that I got on a plan, and now my workouts were chosen for me was a big plus. It let me get out of my head and start to move around. Also a plan creates a baseline for data to be collected during your workouts.  Get on a plan, take the guesswork out of your workout, so that you can focus on working hard and finishing strong.

4.  Get up and Move

This is what it all comes down to. You have to put in the work in order to see the results.  There are going to be days when you feel amazing and everything is going well. Cherish those days!  Conversely there will be days when you will feel terrible (usually the afternoon or day after you ate something unhealthy). Those are the days when it is 10x more important to get out there and move!  If you are on a plan, you don’t have to focus on what it is you have to do, you can just focus on getting through the workout.  Get out there and get it!

Have I missed something? What would you add or delete from the list? Let me know in the comments section. Also if this list was helpful to you let me know in the comments or tweet at me @dadthegeekblog.

5,256,000 Minutes

Today marks a pretty significant milestone in my life. I am fortunate to have shared 10 years of my life with my best friend, partner in crime, and love of my life. 

For those slow on the uptake, I have been in a relationship with my wife Amanda for 10 years today. Although it wasn’t always smooth sailing, she has been my rock. It is crazy that we began as a pair of high school seniors, who didn’t even have acceptance letters to college yet. Now we are married, in careers we love and have 2 children to share this roller coaster of life with.

In the early stages of our relationship, when we were measuring our relationship in weeks and months instead of decades, I mistakenly told her “Happy six months!” because our “anniversary” was on the 6th. 

So happy six months to Amanda, thank you for supporting me in all of my geeky half baked ideas. Here’s to many more years and many many more memories!

Leave comments below and be sure to check out my Facebook and Twitter. Also follow me on Periscope at @dadthegeekblog for live broadcasts!

Summer Trip to Downtown Disney Part 2: The Tech!

So in Part 1 I talked about how we went to Downtown Disney and our plans didn’t turn out the way that we thought. But as a geek one of the coolest things about Disney is all of the tech that is used in their attractions. 

Let me start by saying that Disney uses tech not only in their rides and theme parks. There was a lot of technology being used as an attraction, like the animatronics of “Rainforest Cafe”or a giant Stitch statue that sprays water at people entering a specific shop. There was even more technology helping to provide a seamless experience for guests. From the music being played in certain areas to the ability to pay with your “Magicband” (a Disney invention that is a wristband which acts as your park ticket, hotel key, and credit card all in one).

The most impressive piece of technology that allows for a major improvement was present before you even exited your car. Even before you parked. I chose to park in a newly constructed parking garage. Upon entering the garage, there were signs on each row, and on each sign was a small green number. It took me a minute to realize that this number was the number of open spaces available on that particular row. I chose a row and as I turned down I noticed that empty spaces had green lights hanging over them, while taken spaces did not have a light. After parking and getting out, I realized that our light had changed to red. Upon further inspection it appears that they are using an internal sensor in the light to determine if the parking space is occupied, and then updates the number on the screen. As we were getting out of our car, we ended up taking up most of the area in the empty space next to us. Lo and behold, the light on the sensor turned red in that space too, warning drivers that there is something in that space too. Eventually the light above our car turned off, indicating that our space was staying occupied. 

Notice all the green lights hanging above the empty spaces.
The other really cool thing that we found was a Starbucks…. Now I know what you are thinking. “Aren’t those things everywhere?” Yes they are, but not like this one!

We sat and enjoyed some snacks and coffee, and a really cool screen. This screen had a camera and rendered the picture into an image that looked like a chalk drawing. It was also a touch screen that kids can come draw on. One final thing was that apparently the Starbucks at Disneyland in California also has one of these screens and we could see a live chalk picture from Anaheim. 


That is me on the right holding up the phone to take the picture.

What is your favorite piece of Theme Park tech? Let me know in the comments section below. Also be sure to check out DadtheGeek on Facebook and Twitter

Zippers or Snaps? A Three Year Debate Continues!

So, I have a problem. The debate that occurred three years ago when Claire was a baby has picked back up. Which design of baby onesie is of a superior design, snaps or zippers? In order to illustrate this problem, I am going to ask you to come along on an imaginary journey into my nightlife. In a previous post (Oh Sleep…) I spoke about the fact that my wife and I have not been getting very much sleep. When Simon wakes up for a late night feeding, both of us wake up. One of us will prep the bottle while the other changes the diaper, then one of us will stay up to feed while the other gets to go back to sleep. The issue apparently comes from the changing diaper aspect of this little story. 

Snaps – This is the position that my wife holds. The idea here is that the snaps allow you to uncover less of the child and therefore they are kept cozy and results in less yelling and a smoother transition to feeding and eventually back to sleep. 

My rebuttal is that the baby is screaming at you for food already. They are also kicking their little legs which makes snaps harder to fasten correctly, especially in your current sleep addled state. 

Zippers seem to be the most logical decision to me. A quick solution which cannot be mishandled, unless something goes drastically wrong and skin or fabric is gathered into the zipper (which I should disclose has NEVER happened in our house). 

The wife’s rebuttal again is the idea that the child screams more because most of their body is uncovered. Most onesies are made with the zipper running from one foot up to the neck, so in order to access the diaper, one must completely unzip the onesie. (I maintain that the kid still screams either way).

This brings me to what has to be THE BEST INVENTION EVER! We have come across probably the solution to both issues, and surprise surprise a zipper is involved. The Wife and I are unsure if these are mistakes or if these are made somewhere and we can’t find them. They are zipper onesies where the zipper is reversed this it is quick, yet you can only uncover the area needed to change the diaper. 

So which do you think is better, zippers or snaps? Leave a comment below to weigh in on the debate. Also be sure to Like and Follow our social media pages. 

Oh Sleep, where art thou!

I mentioned in a previous post that after having my second child I have become a person who drinks 2 cups of coffee I the morning. After some discussion with my wife, I have come to the conclusion that how much coffee you drink is directly proportional to the number of children that you have. Looking back to my childhood, this conclusion seems to be confirmed. My parents would be functional after one cup, then be themselves after two (and there were two kids in the house).

The wife and I are settling into our nighttime routine pretty well. We both wake up in order to tackle the beginning stages of the feeding together, then one of us gets to go back to sleep. Being a math person though, Did some calculations. Amanda and I have not had a span of sleep last longer than 3 and 1/2 hours for a month…and there is only more days to come. Which makes me ask the question, “Oh sleep, where art thou?”

Having a new baby is fantastic. Claire is handling herself very well in all of her new “big sister” duties. I also couldn’t ask for a better baby in Simon. He is now (for the most part) on a schedule with feeding, pooping, and sleeping. The odd thing is to think of us now as suddenly a family of 4.

Be sure to stay tuned here an checkout my Facebook and Twitter. Also please post any ways you have for dealing with sleep deprivation in the comments section! I would love to try some of them out. If I get enough, I’ll record myself trying them, and post the video!


I would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the (digital) world Simon! Simon was born yesterday morning at 9:24 local time. Weighing 8lbs 4oz and was 20 inches long! 

We have a proud Dad over here people. Leave a comment and check out the Twitter and Facebook feeds for more updates and photos!