Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Character Sheet (AD&D 2E Character Sheet) Google-Sheets-Based

This is a public Google Docs/Sheets based AD&D 2E Character Sheet I put together for some recent adventuring I did with old friends. It's pretty simple, but also very flexible. The sheet's got spell and thief sections that can be expanded upon or nixed depending on the character class/kit/race/etc.

There are definitely some updates and additions that could be made. My DM and I created a dozen+ characters for a long weekend of adventuring and this template worked great.

If you make any big updates, let me know so I can add them!

View in Google Sheets Here

The San Diego Women's March, Jan 21st, 2017

I march to halt the exploitation of our unified global society by small parties of scared, selfish, & foolish people, and to fix the broken systems that galvanize them.

I march because there is no time for the most influential nations on Earth to assume isolationist roles in global policies, trade, technology, climate change, or education.

I march because our generations will overcome the biggest missteps of our past or we will see our our entire species destroyed, losing the resources and capabilities for another chance.

I march because, right now, humanity has never been more connected. Knowledge has never been more accessible. People have never been closer. LOVE, COMPASSION, and HOPE have never been more bountiful. I march because all these good things are the true nature of the human spirit, the core values of every belief system in history, and the destiny of our young species on this tiny planet in an endless universe.

On January 21st, 2017, millions of unique and powerful individuals marched alongside me in hundreds of distinct cities around the world. This march was an organic extension of the human spirit and it will continue to spread. Marginalized groups no longer stand alone, because humanity no longer tolerates fear manifested as hate and costumed as patriotism.

She will not tolerate it, he will not tolerate it, and I will not tolerate it. Why won't we? Because, together... WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE.

Listen To My Podcast

Zengineering is the podcast I host with my good friend, Adam Kerpelman. It's super! You should give it a listen. Here's how...

About Zengineering Podcast

My co-host (Adam) and I are obsessed with the spot where modern science meets philosophy. As proud wearers of lifetime nerd badges, we have found this to be the place where the most interesting questions are both formulated and discussed.

We examine modern science and technology under the microscope of classic philosophy and spirituality, but save room to go lots of random tangents.

The theme that holds it all together is how to build a mental model of the world that informs and guides our actions in positive ways. We do our best to share this exploration. I hope you enjoy.

Check out some of my favorite episodes virtual realityelectric cars, fantasy roleplaying, and planets.

Listen on iTunesStitcherPatreonFacebookYouTube, & Soundcloud 

Buy Zengineering Shirts & Merch

What is a podcast?

Podcasts are radio shows that you listen to whenever and wherever you want. You download them through an app on your smartphone or computer, or you listen on a website. I listen to dozens of amazing shows when I'm driving, cooking, cleaning, etc... If you're new to podcasts, you should get on the train. They're groovy, man!


I listen mostly when I'm driving, working out, or doing chores around the house; dishes, laundry, gardening, etc. If you listen to NPR, then you already listen to a ton of shows that are also shared online as NPR Podcasts.

How do I listen ... On what device?

I find most people listen on their Smart Phone via headphones or in their car, but you can listen on pretty much any digital device that lets you browse the web or install apps: your computer, smart phone, iPad, kindle, tablet pc, smart TV, Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Firestick, etc., etc., etc...

What website or app should I use?

The easiest and most common apps people use are iTunes and Stitcher. I personally use Downcast. You can download any of these apps from the app store on your phone or computer. You can listen to Zengineering on iTunesStitcherPatreonFacebookYouTube, & Soundcloud ... and via every podcast app.

What are some other awesome podcasts?

If Zengineering isn't your jam, check out these amazing casts:

RadioLab (30-60m): RadioLab is perhaps the most compelling, interesting, and mentally engaging show I've ever heard or watched. I realized when I just read their website description that they clearly inspired Adam and me to start Zengineering, as their description is pretty similar. RadioLab is absolutely incredible and I'm in awe of the cast, crew, and all their guests.

The Elephant (~30-60min): This cast goes deep into everything related to climate change describing itself as "A podcast series exploring the stories, challenges, issues, and ideas related to climate change". Guests include world leaders, distinguished scientist, political activists and more. This is one of the most informative podcasts I've ever listened to on a specific topic.

99% Invisible (15-30m): Check out this cast if you love stories about random factoids. "Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?" 99% Invisible is short and sweet. Always fun, interesting, and relaxing to listen to.

This Won't Hurt A Bit (20-40min): "Imagine a podcast that mixes current medical stories with opinion from experts about medicine, science and what it means to be human." That's This Won't Hurt A Bit. It's a mildly quirky storytelling from big hearted doctors with awesome info to share about your mind, body, and a little spirit.

The Joe Rogan Experience (1-3hrs): This cast is crazy eclectic (as are most on this list). It's a comedy show, but it goes all over the place on topics. Joe is a great host, and his guests are entertaining and informative. Great for long drives.

The Tim Ferris Show (1-3hrs): Tim describes his cast thusly on his site: "Each episode, I deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use.  This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more." If you're obsessed with self improvement and testing the world around you, you won't find a better cast. Great for long drives.

Welcome To Night Vale (20-30min): This is like a creepy yet still soothing bedtime story for adults: "a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events."

What camera, lenses, & gear do I use for Photography?

People ask me a lot about my gear and about gear they should get, so I'm going to do two posts to cover that. This post is about the gear I currently use.

Research & Buy Gear

I buy almost everything except fresh groceries from Amazon. I will sometimes make big photography purchases at local stores to help support them, but the prices can be considerably higher.

I have two main resources for research and learning. There are a lot of other great sites out there, but unless you are already a serious photography nerd, these should cover far more than you need to get started.

Comprehensive Reviews:

Laboratory Lens Tests:

My Experience With Gear

I've been a photographer for 25 years. I've worked as a journalist, academically in high school and college, I've worked as an artist doing work privately and publicly, and I've studied photography both in and out of school. Photography is mostly a life long hobby of mine, but like all my hobbies I enjoy learning about it as much as engaging in it. For that reason, I tend to know a lot about the gear. I started upgrading to new equipment in June of 2015, so my notes are based mostly on that experience and timeframe, but modern digital camera gear tends to have a good competitive lifespan with newer models, and anything you buy today should still be great for decades.

Camera Brand

I've been a Nikon guy for 20 years.

All the big brands are awesome, though, and modern digital cameras all have a lot of features to differentiate themselves. Any brand you go with will be great, but keep in mind that if you are familiar with a brand, you'll be at least somewhat familiar with that brand's other cameras and gear. Further, if you have old gear, you can often use it with new gear. Nikon is probably the best at this, still allowing you to use lenses from 50+ years ago on their most current cameras. Although lenses and flashes and some other gear will work decades apart from release, there are often trade offs. Old lenses will likely require manual focus, and many features on old flashes will typically not work right with a current camera. You can still take great pictures, but some of the automation and advanced features of modern digital photography will be lost.

Camera Bodies

I currently shoot with the Nikon D750. I occasionally still use an older D100 for some specialty photography (mainly infrared), and I also have a Nikon Coolpix AW130 waterproof camera for shooting in liquid.


Nikon D750  |  Review  |  Buy

The D750 has just about every feature you could imagine, is endlessly customizable, takes photos you can blow up on the side of a building, and is rugged enough to drag through the jungle where it's wet and muddy. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best camera ever made for the price, and a lot of other people have said so too. It's overkill if you're new to photography, and you might get overwhelmed with it's features quickly.

Some of the major selling points for me were that it's got a full frame sensor, it's weather sealed, it takes pictures in near darkness (a stop or two darker than most of it's competitors) giving it fantastic dynamic range, and it has a full line of manual features.

This review will tell you more than I ever could.

Buy the D750 on Amazon (you won't beat the price).


Nikon Coolpix AW130  |  Review  |  Buy 


This is a great waterproof camera with a big sensor compared to others in it's class (generally, meaning better images) . It's missing a lot of features I love to have on my cameras, but so are all in this size and class. Getting a waterproof kit for an SLR like my D750 can be thousands of dollars, so ... currently, it's out of my budget.



Nikon AF-S FX 50mm f/1.4G  |  Review  |  Buy


This is my primary lens. It's on my camera almost all the time. using a fixed focal length lens is not for everyone, and I encourage new photographers to try out different focal lengths, but the 50mm f1.4 will work for almost any situation and this particular lens takes some of the most buttery images that I've ever seen. It's awesome in low light, has incredible depth of field, and is small and light when on my camera. Buy it used or refurbished for $250-350.

You can get an older version of this lens that is smaller, less expensive, faster focussing, and still takes pretty damn good photos. Get it used for $150-200.


Tamron SP 70-200MM F/2.8 DI VC USD  |  BUY


I almost always use this lens for my professional portrait work. It zooms from 70mm to 200mm, and takes crystal clear, low distortion, buttery as hell, delicious images. It's got fast autofocus, and image stabilization. Nikon makes a similar lens but it's twice as much and arguably the same quality all around. You can get this lens in great condition, refurbished or used for $700-900.


Tamron AFF004N700 SP 90MM F/2.8 DI MACRO 1:1 VC USD  |  Buy  |  Buy Newer ModeL


This is my Macro lens. It's from the same brand and line of lenses as my 70-200mm above. 1:1 macro lenses let you reproduce the thing you are imaging at life size on the camera sensor. That means, I can get in really close to tiny things and blow them up with extreme clarity (think photographing a small insect and then putting him on a billboard).

It feels like you've been shooting with a microscope when you zoom in on these photos!! Macrophotography photographs literally open up a whole new world. This is not a necessary lens for general photography, but it allows many new perspectives to be explored visually. This lens is not available new everywhere anymore, but you can get it used in great condition for $350-450.


Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC  |  Buy


This lens is very cool looking with a big rounded front element. It's heavy (lots of glass), it's manual, and there is tons of distortion around the edges of it's pictures ... That being said, its as wide angle as you can get without going fisheye, and it lets in TONS of light when capturing big skies full of stars.

I use it a lot for fun because 14mms is just so strange for a human to peer through, but I bought it primarily for landscape photographs with lots of sky and astrophotography photographs. Here's a great article on astrophotography and lens selection.

As a side note, this manufacturer also sells under the brand name of Samyang. I think they are the same lenses


Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom Lens  |  Review  |  Buy


This is an awesome lens at a good price if you want a full-frame ultra-wide angle zoom. It's light, has low distortion for such wide angle, takes crystal clear shots, and has a pretty fast variable aperture for a zoom. I didn't use this lens very much, so I sold it, but I still highly recommend it for what it is.


Tripod / Monopod

MeFoto Aluminum A1350Q1RWB Roadtrip Travel Tripod  |  Buy

This is the best value tripod you can buy, hands down. It's very durable, constructed with extreme precision, has a ball mount quick release top with a swivel base for panoramic or video pans, and one of the legs comes off to become a mono-pod. It's not the lightest tripod, but you often don't want that. It even comes in a bunch of colors.


Lighting Equipment

Lighting takes the complexity of photography to a whole new level. Get familiar with your camera before diving into flash photography. I am not an expert by any means, but I have good general knowledge.

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight  |  Review  |  Buy


This is a modern, fully auto, computer controlled, super intelligent, AI driven Nikon Flash. You can put it on your camera and pictures will look great every time. You can control it off camera via magic messages sent from your on camera pop up flash ... cool!! I use it when I need a single good flash and I don't have time to set up lighting (think sports, candids, party pics, and just generally in the dark).

I am generally overwhelmed by features on this flash, and find the menu somewhat unintuitive because of that, so I usually just put it on full auto and hit the shutter release.


YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash | Review | Buy


I have three of these. They are inexpensive, fully-manual flashes. You have to really understand lighting and exposure to use these effectively, but they have magic of their own. They work on-camera like any other flash, but they can ALSO be wirelessly controlled at hundreds of feet via an on camera wireless controller. All three of these flashes plus the wireless controller cost less than the single SB-700 above.

I use these for portrait work and artistic work when I need amazing lighting. I can toss them on flash stands, inside umbrellas, behind trees, under tables, etc... and get all kinds of crazy lighting setups in a hurry. These are incredible at twice the price.


Octagonal Umbrella Softbox  |  Buy

This is my go-to when I need artificial light, indoors and outdoors. Lighting can be as complex as you want, but having one of these setups will get you stunning photos every time, and for a total of about $150, you can get the softbox, a Yongnuo Flash & Controller (above), a flash stand, and a flash mount. Then you'll have extremely inexpensive professional level lighting anywhere you go. You can pay a LOT MORE for much better equipment but I'd gladly travel the world with this setup and be fine.


Sekonic L-308S Flashmate Digital Incident, Reflected & Flash Light Meter  |  Review & How to Video  |  Buy


This is the light meter I use. Since digital SLRs now have great big screens, instant image metrics, and infinite shots for free, light meters are less necessary. If you're shooting really complex scenes with very dynamic lighting, then you'll want one of these. If you really want to nail subtle colors and lighting in portraits or still lifes, you'll want one of these. Generally speaking, however, I'd say you can usually do without it.


Rogue Colored Flash Gels | BUY


These are amazing and add tons of great color to any flash you put them on (They fit just about any standard flash). Gels are traditionally very expensive and have wonky mounting mechanisms. The rubber band holding solution in this kit is top notch!!

If you're going to do artistic flash work, these are a no brainer in the impulse buy range of <$30.


Audio / Video Accessories

I'm a very amateur videographer, but I have a few accessories that make a big difference when recording and that won't break the bank.

Audio-Technica ATR3350iS Microphone for Smartphones  |  Buy

This is a great lav mic that captures good audio into your camera, or more likely into a smart phone in the pocket of your subject. It's inexpensive and has great reviews.



If you're going to shoot video from across a room, you'll need a mic like this. It'll make sure you capture full sound and avoid the empty tinny sound you'll get recording with the built in microphone on your SLR.


Neewer 24"/60cm Handheld Stabilizer with Quick Release Plate  |  

With a little practice, this will allow you to capture pretty smooth motion shots. Without it, any video where your camera is moving will look horrible ... there's no other way to put it!!


Other Accessories of Note

You'll need and want some of these too.

Vivitar EN-EL15 Battery and Charger Kit for NIKON DSLR  |  Buy

These batteries work great and are half the price of the Nikon Battery. I get plenty of life out of them. Save some money.



High speed at a great price. I can store ~1,100 RAW photographs on one of these on my Nikon D750.

When I was a kid, I used to regularly carry 24 rolls of Kodak Tmax 400 Black & White negative film around at a time. At 36 shots per roll, I could capture 864 "reversed light" images in a backpack.

The technological shift from light sensitive film to digital sensors has completely changed the art and brought it to billions of people with phones in their pockets. 

Actual BILLIONS of photographs are posted to the internet every day (1,000,000,000+). It used to take days to develop negatives and photographs, now you can capture and share pictures and video in seconds. Excuse me while I take a selfie and then instantly update my profile picture for the entire world see.



A little pricey for a neck strap, but it's extremely well made and well designed. Good quick-releases, attaches to a bunch of different spots on the camera, multisided, smooth / grippy, and easily adjustable to a bunch of lengths.



I had never used one of these. Now that I have one, I'll never go back. Having a secure grip on your camera when you don't have a neck strap on it is awesome, freeing, and reassuring. Neck straps are surprisingly annoying now.


I almost moved to Sony's Mirrorless Digital Cameras ...

I was on the fence between Nikon and Sony when I was upgrading my kit a year ago. I was extremely interested in the Mirrorless design. I think this is probably the direction professional digital cameras will all go, but the tech has some limitations at the moment and the cost was 50-100% higher for the same gear ... so I stuck with the classic SLR from Nikon.


Sony A7II Mirrorless Camera   |   Review   |   Buy

Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*   |   Review   |   Buy

Nissin i40S Camera Flash   |   Buy

Check out Zengineering Podcast

This is my podcast. We did a recent episode on Digital Photography, Cameras, Sensors, Lenses, and Optical Physics. Woo Hoo!!



Google Calendar Tide Chart for Surfers ... and other people that care about tides

I wrote a PHP script to generate a Tide Chart Calendar CSV for import into Google Calendar ( and other calendar apps ). If you want to generate a tide chart for your location, simply download the desired chart data from NOAA and paste the data into the Tide Chart Calendar Generator, execute the PHP script, and then import the CSV into your calendar app.

A list of free email provider domains / URLs

Here's a list of free email provider domains / URLs as a GIST.  I compiled this list from a bunch of other lists I found around the web.  I use it in some projects to help filter non-business emails.  It's probably got a lot of uses.

Google Alerts API Client for Creating Alerts in Bulk

Google Alerts does not have an official API, but sometimes you just need to create a lot of alerts.  I did, so I pulled some code together from Stackoverflow and built my own PHP class for creating Google Alerts in bulk.

One caveat is that I didn't build any way to remove alerts in bulk ( although you could definitely use this base class ), so be careful when creating alerts in your primary account.  It's easy to flood it with alerts, and then not be able to delete them.  I actually created some new accounts to create bulk alerts in.

Also, this class currently logs in for every alert it makes, so it's not super fast.  Some cleanup could definitely be done.

PHP API Client for the Data Science Toolkit

The Data Science Toolkit ( DST ) is a fantastic open RESTful API resource for all sorts of data processing use cases. Check out the developer documentation to see what all is available. Some of the more surprising resources include multiple geocoding endpoints, of which, two are drop in replacements for Google's and Yahoo's geocoding APIs. Big projects will probably be rate limited, however.

Your Own DST Server

The really cool thing about the DST is that it maintains an open and freely available Amazon Machine Image of the entire system. I ended up using this internally on a project where we needed to do a lot of Geocoding really fast. Just boot up the AMI and start making requests. It operates exactly like the open API they maintain at, just at your own URL.

A DST PHP Api Client

In the process, I built a simple PHP API Client for the Data Science Toolkit. Only Geocoding endpoints are currently defined in my Client, but it should be a good start for other projects. By default, the client will operate using the Open API at, but you can set a custom URL if you are using your own AMI of the DST.  Everything you need to know will be in the README.