A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

on video games

So I've been playing computer games since probably 1986 or 1987 (I would have been 9 or 10, respectively). Even before then we had an Atari 2600 with games like Pac Man, Haunted House, E.T., Pitfall, Space Invaders, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Donkey Kong (I assume we owned it), and I'm sure some others that I certainly can't remember. This was when we were in Birmingham, AL, between 1982 and ~1985.

My dad had a computer when we lived in Clinton, MS. I think it was a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. I well remember make-believe batman in my dad's office and "typing" furiously at the keys. At some point, while we were still in Clinton, we got a Commodore 64 from a friend of my dad's. We had a couple of games for it, the ones I remember were Ultima IV, Choplifter, Gunship, Trolls and Tribulations. We had a monochrome amber monitor, and even had a printer, which I think never worked. No hard drive, 5.25" floppy drive. At some point, the C64 died, or we replaced it, but we got an IBM PC Junior. The only thing I remember for sure playing on this was King's Quest. Oh, we played some Zork as well. I assume it was Zork I. And Sopwith.

Later, probably after we moved from Clinton to Grenada, around 1989, we got an Amiga 500. We had Defender of the Crown, Team Yankee, Civilization (the first game I purchased! Got it at Boomerang games, at Park and Mendenhall. Boomerang Games closed a couple years ago.), Sim City, Shadow of the Beast, Universal Military Simulator, aka UMS, The Perfect General, Balance of Power, Conflict and Conflict: Middle East, and I'm sure a few others. On the Amiga I had my first programming experience. We had a (classic) BASIC class when I was in 7th grade, and I took what I learned and programmed at least one of the Lone Wolf choose-your-own-adventure style books. That was fun stuff.

Eventually the Amiga died, and we ended up with a PC. I'd bet it was a 386, but I cant be sure now. I do remember having to install a 2x CD-ROM drive in it.

Well I'm winding down. This has been alot of fun, recalling some of these old games, and finding info about them. Maybe I'll get back on it some more later.

Now some more linkage!

Play Zork I || Download the first three Zork games || Play Defender of the Crown || Download Civilization || Play Sim City || Note to self: find links to classic games and emulators for download!

Monday, April 24, 2006

First! A List!

1. Matthew and Deirdra and Capes!
2. Silent Hill and Thank You For Smoking
3. Yard Work
4. Running
5. Guitar
6. Martial Arts (or the lack thereof)
7. Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday

Ok and we're off!

This past weekend Matthew and Deirdra were in Memphis to visit family and friends, and we were on the list! So Sunday evening we had the two of them, as well as Davery, Jeff and Jamie over to our casa in Horn Lake for some Capes fun (which was SUPER fun! Thanks again for running it Matthew) and for Sopranos. I definitely want to get my hands on some Capes action again in the near future.

We went and saw Silent Hill on Saturday. It was pretty terrible. I'm sure that die-hard fans of the Silent Hill games might disagree. It seemed a very faithful adaptation of the game into a movie. Wait, scratch that. It seemed like the game on a movie screen. There was terrible dialog, a jump scene- you know, where you have to jump the character from one precarious beam to another without falling to your death below- and a neatly cliche means of keeping the characters in the game the movie. In short, save your money, rent Silent Hill the game. As an afterthought, Thank You For Not Smoking. I havent gone and seen this yet, though I wanted to this past weekend. I do however intend to go see it this week or this coming weekend! Statement of intent! [Edit: Penny-arcade hits it right on.]

Not this past weekend but the weekend before.. the 15th I guess.. we did a ton of yard work! Yay! Actually it was pretty good. Krissi and Maddie did a goodly bit of prep work on their own. And so on Saturday we dug up a ton of the front yard and laid down top soil and manure and mulch, planted a tree, dug up three holly bushes and planted two rose bushes. And we still have some work on the side of the house, some bushes to plant, and the whole back yard to do! We did like 12 hours of work, but it was well worth it. Rewarding, and really alot of fun.

I've managed to get my lazy ass back out and do some running, which makes me very happy. I did 4 miles the other day, and 3 just today. I'm managing about every other day, which I figure is a fine pace for me right now. We're going to try to get 5 in this weekend. Trot for Spot is coming up soon, and we'll take the animals out for a brisk jog!

Guitar! Work continues. Krissi and Maddie have guitars on the way to North Mississippi as we speak! I've pretty much just been practicing stuff that I know, working on changes and timing and so forth. F and B still make me sweat, and I have not even gotten them down a little bit. I need to devote some practice to them.

So the other day, Matthew and I were chatting about Martial Arts. He's going to be working on his Black Belt in Kung Fu soon, and I was pining about how I wished I could get into a martial art. As I've probably posted previously, I'd *love love love* to do Krav Maga. Sadly, the places that I could take Krav Maga are all minimum 30 minutes one way. I'd love to do Aikido, but I think the only place around for that is on Summer, again, 30-45 minutes one way. I'd even go for some Kung Fu, but.. yeah.. 30+ minutes one way. There are a ton of Taekwondo places right around here, but sadly I'm just not interested in it, and not willing to pay good money, just to be doing it. Get me some cheese and a violin, I'm whining.

And now, in closing, Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday is terrific.

Monday, April 10, 2006

further on cars

So with the recent bad car experience, I really really wish there were a way to buy cars the way you buy hamburgers. Sure, there is the whole difference in cost factor.. Saturn does this to some extent, but I'm a little less than satisfied right now with saturns vehicles. Makes me wish I was more familiar with how the finance and car sales biz works. We're not shopping for a lexus. We just need a reliable and cost efficient car.

I dont really care what we're in. Sure, I'd love a camry or an accura, but I'll take the focus or the kia sephia.



Boy have I been a busy bee.

Let's see.

1. Guitar
2. Cars
3. Paintball
4. Jobby-job
a. Demotivators calendar

There, I made a list so I could remember what I'm on about today.

Firstly, Guitar! As I mentioned, a guitar has been picked up, and some learning started. Well I've been trying to play regularly. Every day at least a little, and I've been doing great at keeping up so far, sometimes to everyone else’s displeasure. So I've learned a a few chords, less than a dozen really, but I've gotten them memorized in my mind, and have been working on translating that to my fingers. I do okay fingering the strings blind, but end up moving up and down the frets a little too much. Practice Practice Practice. Maddie and I have found a few simple songs that we're trying to master. We've been working on the Johnny Cash version of Hurt, Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams and the horse with no name thing. I saw a recommendation to record some of how you're doing as you practice.. so I did. Listen at your own peril. Its my first guitar subject audio blog. [get it here, mp3 format, ~6 minutes, 2.2M] But its going well and I'm having tons of fun, and seem to be making good progress, having gone from "Oh look, a gee-tar" to "I can play these 8 chords, and slowly play this thing that sounds like a song".

Cars! Bleh! So, I've posted before about ongoing car trouble. To reiterate, we have an '02 saturn and an '89 berretta. The saturn we bought new, the berretta was given to us by Krissi's family. For the last couple years we've worked in the same building and so were able to for the most part carpool all the time, which was convenient. The berretta is paid for, and the Saturn car payments are pretty reasonable. Well, and to be brief, the berretta has been less than reliable in the past. We spent $500 on it just a month or two ago, and then this past Friday morning it refused to start. So we have two options: A- continue to dump money and time in the old berretta, hoping to stave off its inevitable demise. B- buy a car. Now like I said, the berretta is paid for, which is a big plus. Heck, a $300 a month car payment, which is, I think, low by most standards, is still $10 a day if you break it down. Last night I wondered to myself whether we needed another car for another $10+ a day. That’s like, practically an album off of itunes. Anyway, transportation is transportation, but it makes me consider getting a bicycle to carry me to and from work. So…. Saturday afternoon we set off to look at used cars. We knew what we wanted to spend, we knew what we could spend. We’ve been living from paycheck to paycheck for a long time (hoping that will change) and so don’t really have a cash reserve built up, so of course we were walking in with no money in our pocket to hand over, but could come up with some money down if they could make a deal with us and we could get them the money. Anyway we hit a car place in Memphis that made me think of William H. Macy’s character in Fargo. “Now that clear-coat…..” We did not buy a car from them. We then headed to a car lot in Southaven. We thought we were doing better, found a couple used vehicles, did some test driving, filled out some paperwork, went into the finance office and then they realized that we weren’t going to hand them $1,000. We made what I thought was a perfectly reasonable offer – to get the money within X period of time, but they didn’t like it apparently, and suddenly were incredibly rude and basically were like “get the fuck outta here.” So that was quite disappointing. Anyway, in a few weeks when we’ve squirreled away the cash, we’ll go try again at a place that isn’t the rude assholes at the Ford place in Southaven. So meanwhile, we’re doing one car. Fortunately my new job is right around the corner from the house, so Krissi drops me off in the morning before heading to her job, and will pick me up in this evening. It’ll work until we can remedy the car situation. But Bleah.

Paintball! Hot dog. Went and played on Sunday and had a blast. It’d been three months or so since I’d been able to go play, due to both time and money. It was awesome to get out and run and shoot some paint. I went to Cedar Hill Farm down in Hernando. Sunday afternoon turned out to be pretty slow for the park. There were some groups of two or three wandering around, and a couple larger groups, but really sparse. Andy joined me and brought his woman, just down from Ohio, and Andy and I played a few rounds of speedball. Then we started hitting up other groups of folks to jump in to games with them, and that worked out pretty okay as well. As the afternoon wore on we found ourselves staking out the speedball field with two or three other small groups of people, who together (much like voltron) made up about 8 folks, good enough for some good paintball action. A couple of experienced players, a bunch of newbies and in fact at least 6 people who were playing paintball for the very first time. So like I said, I had an absolute blast. Chase and Wes showed up and I got to do a few games with them as well before I, tired and painted up, headed back to Horn Lake/Southaven. Krissi and Maddie had been busy all day doing yard work, and so were sun burnt but satisfied with their labor. We finished up Sunday by watching the Sopranos (and of course continuing to strum away on the guitar).

Jobby-job! Well last week was my first week at the new job, and we’re good so far! Everyone is very nice and Jim seems like a pleasure to work with. I need a plant for my desk I think… Job related, and a little amusing.. my job is run by a gentleman who is the son of the founder (the first, if you’re counting). The grandson of the founder (the third, if you’re counting) is also working with the company, and the wife of the owner (the second, if you’re counting) also works sometimes with the company. So… I decided not to hang my Demotivators calendar near my desk this month. The reason? Well this month is Nepotism. Yeah, so I figured I’d wait until May to hang it.

So that’s what’s going on with me!

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

lots o stuff

How quickly time slips away..

So here's what I've been up to:

Anniversiary. We drove to Nashville this past weekend and just bummed around. Had a great time. They have an awesome mall in Nashville called Oprey Mills. It was a ton of fun.

While in Nashville we picked up a cheap guitar, and I've been looking at guitar chords on the internet. Maddie swears she came up with the idea first and told me, and I swear we came up with the idea in parrallel, but either way, we have a guitar and I've learned E, G, A and D. Got a ton of more chords to go. I found how to play "When September Ends" by Green Day, which largely consists of plucking three strings, and some of "Horse with No Name". Its alot of fun though. Krissi is working on getting her hands on a lefty guitar, and meanwhile we'll all share the one I've got.

Went ahead and picked up Oblivion for the PC. Its good, but runs just a tad slowly on my laptop. But it runs, and its fun and pretty. Passed it along to Maddie and John, and Krissi has been sneaking time on it as well.

Doomsday for Hearts of Iron 2 is sortof out, so I've been enjoying a demo for it.

Started new job!! Its going well. Lots to learn.

In other news, Krissi has been hard at work being a gardener, and so has trimmed hedges, filled in dog-dug holes in the backyard and even begun work on the "nice grass in our backyard" project. Also we discovered a birds nest recently built in our backyard fence, with a few pretty turquoise eggs inside!

That's what's been going on. Looking forward to some paintball, I tell ya!