TransMissions: Jeb Hoge

Jeb Hoge and son Andrew
Jeb and his #1 Transformers fan, Andrew.

Back when I started my reviews of the original Transformers comic books, I wanted to do something different then what I was seeing on other web sites. I decided one thing I could do differently was post the letters kids wrote to Marvel about the comic books. At the time these where called, TransMissions.

As I sat copying these letters from each comic book into my post I couldn’t help but think how cool it would be if one of the kids who wrote these letters so many years ago found my post and tried to contacted me about it. Well that very thing happened to me just recently.

Jeb Hoge, was one of those kids who wrote into Marvel Comics back in the 80s. On my review of Transformers issue 5, Jeb wrote in to me and commented:

Cracked me up! I was using Google to look for some old things I’d published online and saw my name show up here. Yes. I did write that letter to the editor in 1985. Never thought I’d run across it here. :-) And I think I still have this issue.

Marvels Comics' Transformers Issue #5: The New Order
Marvels Comics’ Transformers Issue #5: The New Order

Praising Marvel on Transformers, Jeb’s original letter from the 1980s read:

Dear Marvel, I would like to compliment you on TRANSFORMERS. I have two of them and they are terrific! Hats off to you! – Jeb Hoge, Tullahoma, TN

Communicating with Jeb since he contacted me about the post, he recalled how excited he was to see his letter printed in issue 5 of the Transformers comic. The cover of issue 5 is so iconic now, I can’t think of a better issue to have your letter published in.

Jeb was kind enough to do a quick interview with me about the Transformers comic book, his life since he wrote that letter and if he is still a Transformers fan today.

Youseph: How did you discover the Transformers?

Jeb: I was born in 1974, so that put me right in the target market when Transformers first came out. I’m not sure if I found the toys or the cartoon first, but I do remember having to go to a friend’s house to watch the cartoon. I also had the first four TF comic books, and then the fifth. I’d say Transformers were in my top three of all toys, along with Lego (naturally) and GI Joe.

Youseph: Where did you get your Transformers comics from?

Jeb: I first started getting comic books at a local drugstore that just happened to have them. My favorite was “GI Joe,” which started up right around when I was just old enough to get into comics and “big kid toys,” but when “Transformers” hit the racks, I started buying them too. Later, I found a proper comic book store in town that was fun, but I never got hugely invested into comic books as a medium.

Youseph: You found my website because I republished a letter you wrote to Marvel about the Transformers comic. What compelled you to write to them? What was it like to see your letter printed in the back of the comic?

Jeb: The letter I wrote to Marvel was just the kind of thing that an excited, avid comic book reader did at the time. I’m sure my mom encouraged me to write it, too, but you’d never expect to get it published. So when I saw my name in Issue #5, it made my year. I showed it off to everyone, I think.

Youseph: Who are you today and are you still a Transformers fan?

SoundwaveJeb: Now, I’m almost 40 and I’m a married dad of three little boys. Two of them are old enough to be Transformers fans too! They watch the original cartoon series thanks to Netflix streaming. I wish I had the old toys to share with them, but those are long gone. I do tell stories about when I had them and how I played with them, so it’s a really nice connection between my kids and my kid-at-heart self. My oldest has even gone online to look at pictures of the original series of TF toys and I’ve given thought to seeing what they go for on eBay, just to surprise him with an old-school Soundwave (“See, son, they used to have these things called ‘Walkmans’…”). Sometimes I get quizzed on different Transformers’ abilities, but mostly they just like them for what they are, and that’s good enough.

As for what I do, I’m a technical writer in Richmond, VA. That’s not terribly interesting, though. :-)

Thank you Jeb, for taking the time to do this interview with me. It was a pleasure to meet you. I hope I get to hear from more of you out there who may have written into Marvel back in the day.

Bike Xing

bike xingThe late 80s is when I got my first bike. It was a gift from my parents. Their only rules were that I had to stay on the sidewalks and be home before dark. Now, not every road in my home town of Gridley, Kansas had a sidewalk in those days, but I had friends who knew how to single to cars that you were slowing down or turning. They taught me those rules so that I could use them anytime that I found myself on a road without a sidewalk.

Eventually my family and I moved from the little farming community of Gridley to the bigger town of Anacortes, Washington. When I turned 18, I got my drivers license. I remember studying for my drivers test with the materials that were given to me by the local Department of Motor Vehicles. The little booklets had a section on bicyclists. It showed the different singles that bicyclists use. These were the same that my friends taught me back in Gridley. The booklets also said that for safety reasons bicyclists have the “Right of way”. Which to me makes sense. If there are no sidewalks a bicyclist would have to be on the road with vehicles and vehicles should watch out for them. No problem with that.

The reality of having driven for the last 15 years or so is different. I have learned, rather rudely that, it is not legal in every state for a bicyclist to use a sidewalk. This is a great vain of frustration for me as an auto driver and a law that every cyclist should break in my opinion.

I can’t fathom how many times I have had to slow down and ride into the opposite lane just to avoid hitting a bicyclist who is riding on the same road as my vehicle. Worse yet, a sidewalk is almost always right there! With no pedestrians on it either!

darwin bikeIts hard to tell what is worse. When you’re trying to pass a someone on a bike in full sport racing cyclists gear, or the family of 5 who are always stopping and the youngest member of the group is weaving wildly. The sport cyclist will almost always ride the white line that indicates the road’s shoulder forcing vehicles to weave around putting themselves in danger of oncoming traffic. A sport cyclist clearly has a death wish riding this way. But the family of 5 is worse in a lot of ways. They will take the whole family out on a bike ride with the 4 or 5 year old who just got her training wheels off. She is weaving so wildly that cars trying to pass feel the need to take a far wider berth than necessary just to be safe and not hit the little Darwin experiment.

The thing that really grinds my gears is that these bicyclists can’t be this stupid. Can they? I mean what part of any of their brains tells them that riding on the same road as a heavy vehicle is even remotely a good idea? If they get hit by one of these rolling boxes of metal it’s all over for them. Don’t they see that? No do over. No play again. It’s just over. Their done.

Let me tell you a story. The other day I went for a walk. The sun was out and I had just about enough of sitting in front of my computer. So, I went out for an evening constitutional. As I was crossing the street from my home over to the lake, I see a mother bike riding with her three small children in front of her, Yup, you guessed it. They were all on the shoulder of the road with a perfectly unused sidewalk right next to them. The youngest lead the family while the mother brought up the rear. To say she was bike riding would be disingenuous here because the mother was so worried about her wobbly, slow moving children in front of her, that she was off of her bike WALKING IT BEHIND THEM. You could hear her yelling out commands to the the child in front to not swerve so much. I could see that the child was not swerving because he was goofing off, which would be equally as bad on a road with cars, but he was swerving just from inexperience of riding at his age. This was all taking place on a low visibility inclined turn mind you.

Now, this parent supposedly loves her children. Wouldn’t you think she would just say ‘Screw It’ to the twenty dollar ticket she might get for riding your bike on the sidewalk and have her children ride their bikes on the sidewalk just for safety sake? All I could do was shake my head in frustration as I walked past.

My wife loves to bike ride. On a sunny day it’s a fun thing to do. But every time she goes out she makes sure to  carry enough cash with her to pay off any ticketed she might get for riding on the sidewalk. She and I have had this conversation several times. If she gets a ticket while she is riding her bike on the sidewalk, she can pay it off right there and walk her bike on down till the cop is out of sight.

Safety first.

Wearable Art Juneau 2013

Wearable Art 2013My wife and her endless creativity has brought her back to Juneau’s Arts and Humanities Council and their annual ‘Wearable Art‘ event. Hannah spent months designing her entry. Starting with sketches on paper, she has designed her dress entry this year out of sterile instrument wraps and used laser printer film. The dress was worn by her model, Amber.

Last weekend was the two day event. It was a lot of fun and had some nice changes from last year’s event.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXu8PK3ZQ9U]

October

The Juneau summer this year was not the warmest or the sunniest I have ever experienced since moving to Alaska. They all can’t be winners when you live in the middle of a rain forest.

As fall hits us with a shock the weather has turned cold and the air has become very dry. At the start of October people have had to start waking up earlier than normal to make sure their cars are defrosted and warmed up for the morning drive into work. Before the month was out we got our first real snow fall that dusted the landscape like sugar.

With all the recent cold weather, and the daily continuing loss of sunlight that comes with living this far north, we have had some bright spots too. Most notably is that during the daylight hours we do have they have been bright and sunny. Hannah and I have managed to go for some walks after work all bundled up and trying to soak up some of that natural vitamin D from the sun. We are lucky enough to live really close to a park with a lake, so its easy for us to walk out our front door and down to the lake where we walk the length of it and back.

October is also the month I was born in and Hannah put together a nice little party with some good friends. Some of which flew all the way in from southern Washington State. It turned out to be a great weekend that I don’t think I am going to ever forget.

Halloween is also in October, so of course we carved out some pumpkins and turned them into some great looking Jack-o-lanterns. My brother Abe came over and the three of us took to work on four pumpkins. This is the second or third time since I have lived up here that I recall it snowing when we set our Jack-o-lanterns outside.

PAX Prime 2012 Review

I came back from Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) on Monday and I thought I would give a little writeup on how it went.

At PAX you are surrounded by thousands and thousands of gamers. Computer gamers, console gamers, card gamers, role playing gamers, dice gamers and so on. It really does not matter what kind of a gamer you are. You could even just be the casual gamer and still find a place at this convention. You can easily talk to anyone at PAX about any aspect of gaming you want too. It’s such a friendly and fun atmosphere. This is why I have gone for the last three years.

While at the convention I picked up the following items.

Hannah wearing a ‘Cards Against Humanity’ T-Shirt. She found to answer t-shirts to go with hers.

Cards Against Humanity which is an adult card game much like Apples to Apples. Just for adults. The tag line is “A Card Game For Horrible People”. So many people were playing this all throughout PAX and laughing hard while playing it that I had to pick up my own copy of the game. Cards Against Humanity started off as a free game and still is free. You can download the free PDF and print off your own cards. After a while they started a Kickstarter project to have official cards made. Now you can buy your own like I did thanks to the people who helped fund their kickstarter project.

Smallworld – Be Not Afraid… Expansion. Smallworld is a great board game I have been playing with friends for a while now. I was stoked to find this expansion for the game and can’t wait to play a game using it.

Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment is a new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game book with all kinds of Weapons, magic items, armor and much more. This is going to be such a useful tool for me when planning out adventures in my own Pathfinder game.

I was disappointed that TECMO/Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive 5 did not have a booth. This is one of my all time favorite video games and I have been looking forward to part fives release for over a year now. The last edition of the game was not available for the PS3. This version is and I am stoked to get back into it.

I was pretty impressed with Nintendo’s Wii U showing on the convention floor. The graphics are way improved and the controls were pretty neat. Now they just need games that support the new hardware in unique ways.

PAX rocks and I am looking forward to next year.

Curiosity

Ever since the Curiosity rover left our planet last November on it’s mission to Mars, I have been waiting with much anticipation for it’s landing on the red planet. Last Sunday the wait ended with the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars. From what I have been reading and watching on the internet It appears the landing went off with out a hitch.

Hannah and I stayed up late on Sunday night to watch the NASA USTREAM of the landing. Here is a recap of the broadcast.

The landing on Mars was an amazing event to watch and I feel lucky that Hannah and I got to watch it together. After things calmed down, I could not help but noticed the abundance of Apple MacBook Pros everyone was using at NASA. Which lead me to post the following on Google+.

And then I created a meme from the post.

Since that Sunday we have had some more photos from Mars that are quite stunning. Its amazing what we can accomplished as a people when we work together for a common goal.