My Liebster Award

Well, how cool is this? I’ve been nominated for a Liebster! Many thanks to YvoCaro over at A Lady and Gaming for the nomination, you made my day! :)

So what is a “Liebster”, you might ask? Read on to find out!


Simply put, the Liebster is an award one blogger gives another. It’s a fun, friendly way to say “Nice job!”. Your readers and fellow bloggers get to learn a little more about you, and following the chain of Liebster links is also a great way to find awesome, largely undiscovered blogs. Everybody wins!

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog (this is more of a polite guideline, really).
  2. Answer the 11 questions provided by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate other bloggers for the award. Find some blogs you love with fewer than 200 followers.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer. If you get stuck, you can find lots ideas just by googling for “Liebster award”.
  5. Let your nominees know you’ve nominated them! One good idea is to post a comment on their “About” page.

My Answers

Can you tell something typical about the country you live in?

This is tougher than it sounds! To answer this, I tried to think of things I’d be either excited or nervous to tell someone who had just arrived for the first time from another country.

Let’s start here: I live near Portland, Oregon, USA. I guess the first thing that comes to mind is just how beautiful it is here. There are numerous vineyards and wineries within miles of my house. Every morning on my way in to work, I drive along a road that winds its way through hazelnut orchards. There’s even an olive mill that’s not too far away.

Photo by Stuart Seegerlicensed under CC BY 2.0.

Photo by Stuart Seeger licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I work in downtown Portland, which is beautiful in its own right, but then there are also forest hikes, a rose garden, and an amazing, traditional Japanese garden, all within a few miles of the city proper.

So while it’s true that it also rains quite a bit, the results are well worth it (and besides, I love the rain, too!).

Why did you take up blogging?

In a nutshell: To make meaningful connections with people while learning about myself.

I’ve journaled for years. It’s helped to sort out my thoughts, to test and refine ideas. It’s also been a great way to work through tension and anxieties. Blogging is a natural extension of that, with the added benefit of turning those personal ruminations into a public conversation.

Also, I’d like to make my own video games someday (soon). I’m learning to write critical analyses of games to help learn about game design.

Do you set yourself a goal of number of blogs per week or month?

I wish that were true, but no. Due to chronic writer’s block, I can’t yet write on a reliable schedule. I’m hopeful that will change, and that within the next six months I’ll be writing regularly enough for those kinds of goals to be realistic.

Where do you get your inspiration to write?

Like many bloggers, my ideas come from things that are personally important to me: questions of faith, philosophy, culture, and so on. I guess you could say I’m rather fond of navel-gazing.

What’s unusual to me is the way my ideas coalesce: Video games have been the key.  They’re an indispensable catalyst in working out my thoughts.

The Last of Us™ Remastered

I sometimes worry people might find that shallow or trivial, but I take games very seriously. They have tremendous, largely untapped potential to tell stories, convey ideas, and even to change people in positive ways.

Do you own more then one gaming device, and which ones?

I do! I mainly play games on either my PlayStation 4 or my PC, but I also have a PlayStation 3, a Wii, and a Wii U (which belongs to my son, technically). I guess phones count as gaming devices these days, but I’ve only ever played one game on my phone (but it was a good one, I should blog about that…).

What are your favorite kind of games?

Games that tell stories in deeply engaging ways. Games that connect you to the experience intellectually, emotionally, and personally. My best example so far is The Last of Us. Prior to that, I really enjoyed Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and the BioShock series.

What are your three favorite movies?
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Lord of the Rings (this counts as one movie, right?)
  • The Iron Giant
What is your go-to music when you feel sad?

Any of Harold Budd’s collaborations with either Robin Guthrie or Brian Eno.

Does your work or study match your blogging topics?

In terms of my work, not so much. I work in technology, but my day job has nothing to do with gaming, nor does it concern philosophy, faith, etc.

I’ve thought about maintaining a separate, “professional” blog about programming, technology, and team development, but it’s not gone anywhere so far. Maybe someday.

If you have a partner, is he or she into gaming?

I have a lovely wife of twenty-five years (she’s on my nominee list below). She and I both enjoy playing games, but our tastes don’t often overlap. She mostly enjoys light, mobile, or social network games.

While she doesn’t enjoy sitting in the driver’s seat for games like BioShock or The Last of Us herself, she likes to watch as I play. That started back when I played through the Uncharted series, and I have to say, we make a great team!

What kind of pet do you have?

I have two cats, both of which are very sweet. However, as much as I love them, I have to say, I’m kind of done with the idea of pets in general. I could always have a change of heart, but barring that there won’t be any more pets after they pass on. Sorry if that sounds mean!

Fun Facts About Me

This was excruciatingly difficult! I am a contentedly serious, boring person. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

  1. My wife and I have home schooled our children their entire lives. For those who are curious: No, socialization has not been an issue. :) Our kids are socially adept and wonderfully well-adjusted.

    We chose to home school for many reasons, both academic and personal. Looking back, and seeing where they are now, I have absolutely no regrets. Home schooling requires significant sacrifices. It isn’t for the half-hearted, but if you’re willing to commit for the long haul, the results are well worth it.

  2. I collect typewriters. Rather, I have a collection of typewriters. I stopped actively collecting them for now. I still need to tune and polish most of my collection, my house is just about out of storage room, and my wife has been exceptionally patient up to this point.

    Cole Steel Typewriter

    I know many people who were forced to use typewriters in the pre-PC era grew to hate them, but for me, they’re pure bliss. A good typewriter is a beautiful synthesis of function and design, an elegant machine that transforms the very act of writing into an aesthetic experience.

  3. I’ve been programming computers since 1980. I started out making simple games and graphical programs, spent some time writing software for automated manufacturing (conveyors and robotics and such), and now for the past fifteen years have worked primarily on enterprise business applications.

    I’ll be honest: Writing software for business is good, steady work, but I wish I’d spent more time making games. To that end…

  4. I’m learning how to make video games! This is long overdue. Most of what I hope to do uses 3D, so I’m focusing my efforts on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. I’m working through a set of very small, focused exercises to learn as many aspects as I can from all the various disciplines that go into game-making.

    I have one game in particular I hope to be able to make someday, but it’s far too ambitious to take on right now. That’s fine. The way I see it, I have the rest of my life to accomplish it. The key will be to stay focused on achievable goals, to keep producing games, and to never stop learning.

  5. I have unusually vivid recall of early life events. Meaning, I can remember details of things like being in my playpen, hiding under a laundry basket, making arts & crafts with my siblings while sitting in a rather uncomfortable, metal high-chair. I can remember looking out the kitchen window at the sunset while my mother bathed me in the sink.

    Maybe this isn’t so unusual, I don’t know. From my experience, most people don’t remember that sort of thing. I’m always surprised when people tell me they can’t remember most of their school days, let alone minute details of earlier experiences.

  6. I write music. Or rather, I tinker with electronic music. I’m hyper-critical of my own work, so it never feels “done”, but I enjoy it all the same. It’s become a great way to relax. In fact, playing music is sometimes just the thing to work through bouts of writer’s block.

    Part of my dissatisfaction with my own music is the result of never having paid enough attention to mixing and engineering. I’m working to remedy that now, and would highly recommend Mike Senior’s book to anyone interested in the topic.

    But then, maybe my musical challenges have more to do with the fact that I can neither whistle nor snap my fingers. It’s sad, really.

  7. I rarely spend time outside. To some people that would be a bad thing. For me, not so much. I’ve always been indoorsy as the result of severe allergies. They’ve gotten worse over the past few years, and while that’s been hard in some ways, it’s also forced me to make peace with my condition.

  8. I’m a perpetually frustrated fan of manga and anime. There are a few series I love: Azumanga Daioh, Haibane Renmei, Dennou Coil. My family and I watched and enjoyed Usagi Drop, and back around Christmas 2014 we watched one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time: Kids on the Slope.

    Kids on the Slope

    Sadly, the overwhelming majority of anime, despite the medium’s potential, is unoriginal tripe, much of which is created solely to move goods by indulging adolescent hormonal fantasies. There’s nothing new in that, but it’s annoying when it saturates the market to the exclusion of better alternatives.

  9. My academic background is in physics and engineering. My degree is in “Engineering Physics”, which is basically physics with a little less quantum mechanics and a little more upper-division engineering. For my engineering work, I studied optoelectronics (lasers).

    I’m not sure how “fun” that is, but I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

  10. Okay, I’m really reaching now, but here we go: I once drove a golf cart through a rather large, plate glass window.

    This happened when I was only two or three years old. My dad had been driving me around the show room floor of a used car lot owned by some friends of ours. He brought the cart to a stop, but apparently I wasn’t done yet. Before he could turn it off, I hopped off the seat and stomped on the accelerator. We shot forward through the window and crashed into a brand new Trans Am. Thankfully, no one was injured.

  11. I love scary stories, but I’m not a fan of the horror genre per se. Horror films and novels too often lack subtlety, focusing exclusively on gore and cruelty for their effect.

    Some recent works I consider to be good, high-quality examples in the horror genre would be the film “The Conjuring” and “PT”, the playable trailer for the (sadly) cancelled game “Silent Hills”. Both of these do an excellent job creating real tension and scares with very little use of blood and guts.

Questions for My Nominees

  1. Why did you take up blogging?
  2. What’s your ideal work environment when writing?
  3. How do you fight writer’s block?
  4. What’s your favorite thing about where you live right now?
  5. What are your top three favorite video games, movies, tv shows, or books? Either choose all three from one category or mix and match as you please.
  6. Name one game/movie/tv show/book you love that most people hate.
  7. If you could spend your days doing anything you’d like, what would you do?
  8. What’s one job you would you never want? Why?
  9. What’s your favorite online community/site?
  10. Suppose you could spend one full day with anyone in the world, past or present. Who would that be, and what would you want to discuss with them?
  11. Suppose you’re one of the last 1,000 people on Earth. Everyone is voting whether to stay on a dying planet or take their chances trying to colonize Mars. The odds are about the same in either case: there’s a 50% chance of survival in the next ten years. How do you vote, and why?

My Nominees for The Liebster

That’s it! Thanks again to Yvonne, and best wishes to all my nominees! I hope you have as much fun with this as I’ve had!

5 thoughts on “My Liebster Award

  1. Wow!
    I would have loved to homeschool my little one, education at schools is so drone-like and don’t get me started on how they teach maths these days, I’m good at maths, but the stuff my little one comes home with confuses me no end. School just works for us though given my health problems, but I try to teach her stuff at home over the holidays. There just seems to be more benefits to teaching her stuff at home than at school, and she learns quicker at home too. Plus, it’s so fun to teach her stuff she’s passionate about that her school wont even cover, like photography, proper art and science.
    Physics! That’s so cool! I absolutely adore physics, and Richard Feynman’s work.
    Congrats on your award! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken McGowan says:

      Hi Rhio, thanks for all your comments! I love hearing from other parents who are so deeply involved in their kids’ education. It makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it?


      • I tend to binge read blogs I follow.. Sorry for the spam haha.

        I totally agree. I had a “troubled” childhood and have suffered mental illness for as long as I can remember, I used learning as a coping mechanism and worked hard. It’s probably why I didn’t go off the rails. I teach my daughter the same thing, that learning and being passionate about subjects can keep you grounded. :D

        Liked by 1 person

      • I loved seeing all your likes & comments! I think that was probably the most I’ve ever received from one person in a single go. :) I always enjoy seeing the little WordPress “W” icon on my phone first thing in the morning. Seeing all the notifications stacked up was fun!

        I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and, for what it’s worth, I really appreciate your openness and candor about the difficulties you’ve faced with your illness. It’s encouraging. I hope I can eventually learn to be as open & honest in my own writing. :)


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