A Blog’s Beginnings

This blog has just begun, so there’s not quite a lot here yet. With posts being added every day regularly except Sundays, however, that will soon change. I hope that there will be some good feedback about this blog; I invite visitors to tell me their thoughts through the comments (don’t tear me to pieces, but good solid feedback is always welcome).

As always, thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoy what is here already. (And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see the first post about web design!)

Phases of Songcraft

As a composer and songwriter, I had not thought much about how my works have changed over time, until I began to review and play back through my older songs. Then, I realized that my composing style has shifted, not once, but many times throughout my musical life already.

Shifting from Instrumental to Vocal/Instrumental

For instance, I’m just coming out of a weird phase where I haven’t been writing a lot of instrumental music (piano solos). Piano solos used to be all I did–I’d go to the keyboard and produce these six-minute-long wordless poems, full of soaring melodies and cool chord progressions. Nowadays, though, I find myself focusing on lyric and melody together, much more than I used to do. It used to be that I fought to combine words and melodies together into something that didn’t sound trite and stupid…now, I’m interested in my relationship to God and my personal faith journey, and the songs just keep writing themselves in my head.

This Phase Shift is Normal!

I had worried that perhaps I had “lost my touch” for writing piano solos or purely instrumental music. But I’ve talked to a few of my musician friends about how songcraft seems to come and go in phases–sometimes you feel like writing instrumental music, and sometimes vocal music or combined vocal/instrumental. All have agreed so far that it’s almost like a shifting mood thing, rather than an inability to do it anymore.

So if you’re writing music and find yourself writing in a new style of music, or moving away from an old favorite style, don’t worry–allow your music to grow with you as you explore new territory. Don’t trap yourself into one set way of composing, and you might just find a new favorite style!

Rare Books, Drum Flash, Being Kinda Productive, and ASCII Generator


A reference site that features photographs of each page of rare books–works by Shakespeare, Ben Franklin, Redoute, Galileo, and more!

Drum Machine Flash
Really neat Japanese-inspired drum visualization!

29 Semi-productive Things I Do Online
Bored online and trying to avoid “real” work? Here are some interesting ideas so that you don’t keep hitting the Home button on Facebook 30,000 times.

ASCII Generator
For cool-looking forum signatures, emails, and more!

Onslaught 2 (Tower Defense)

With several different maps, multiple difficulty levels, and dozens of towers to choose from, Onslaught 2 is one of the most detailed and customizable tower defense games I’ve ever played. Read on, and see why I enjoy it so much!

Basic Gameplay

In Onslaught 2, you are trying to guard the military base (marked “Area 51”) from being invaded by waves of enemies. To that end, you have to build towers of varying types to defend the winding route to the base. If 10 enemies get past you and invade the base, game over. With every enemy you shoot down, you get a certain amount of money, which increases by 1 dollar with each wave of enemies.

This money is for upgrading your towers’ damage, rate of attack, and range–but you have to upgrade strategically! For instance, if you upgrade the tower’s range all the way and forget about its damage, soon you’re going to be pinging away at enemies that barely even feel the bullets, even if you can shoot them from way far away. Thinking and planning ahead is key (see next section for my strategies).

As you progress in the game, shooting down enemies and getting money, you also get access to different types of towers you can build. For instance, you can build a taser tower (temporarily paralyzes enemies), a sniper tower (epic, one-shot damage) and even a railgun tower (zaps the enemy it’s aimed at, as well as all the enemies in a straight line behind that enemy). As the enemies get stronger, you’ll need those better towers to aid you!

My Strategies

I find that upgrading a tower’s damage is of the utmost importance, followed very closely by upgrading its rate of attack. A tower that can shoot for massive damage multiple times in a few seconds is likely not going to need a long range to defeat its enemies. But some players have done well balancing upgrades to damage and rate of attack with upgrades to range; it’s all in what your particular playstyle is.

Though I liked to use the pellet gun tower (blue) when I started playing, I have found that it’s not so helpful after the 100th wave. Likewise, the laser tower (green) isn’t really of much use late-game unless you get a whole chain of them together so they can help each other out. Thankfully, you can sell off older, fully-upgraded towers later on if you need the money to upgrade stronger towers.

As in most games, there are very powerful combos; you can put two or three towers side by side to create much more damage output. I like to use the Rocket (red tower) and the Taser (yellow tower) together–once both their damage output is fully upgraded, they unleash homing rockets that are pretty much one-hit kills for at least 5 enemies. Great for clearing out a clump of baddies!

You can find more strategies and combos by visiting About Combos on the Onslaught website, or by visiting the Onslaught 2 page at JayIsGames.com. One thing’s for sure, there are many ways to succeed in Onslaught–there’s always new things to try!

Play the game: Onslaught 2

We Complain, God Provides

Jeremiah 33:10-11
“This is what the LORD says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without men or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men or animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD.”

This Bible passage reminds us that even if we don’t like what’s been given us, God provides us with what we need. The Israelites didn’t like the land God had led them to, but they were still living in towns together, in houses–God was providing for them, even as they were rejecting His gifts of land and protection as being “not good enough.” (And not only that, God promised even more blessings if the Israelites would only trust Him!)

Even if we’re living in difficult times, we must find the strength to trust in God that He will care for us and provide us with what we need to survive. Our wants may not be met, but our needs will be, if we place them in God’s hands.