27 July 2008

five things to remember to bring camping next time

  1. A pillow
  2. A flashlight
  3. A chair
  4. Firewood and/or kindling
  5. Another pillow*

* Seriously, I went camping and didn't take any pillows.Or flashlights, chairs, or firewood. I've heard campers aren't really supposed to bring their own firewood anyway, but the pillows and flashlight would've been handy. Also, my 8' x 6' was supposedly able to fit three sleeping people. For that matter, it's only supposedly 8' wide - it seemed much smaller inside than that.

2 January 2008

sounds like the name of a novelty t-shirt

So with the holidays lately I've had a few weekdays away from my desk*. As is often the case when this happens, I had some errands to run, and interesting stores in which to stop nearby. At one point I found myself wandering through a MicroCenter (though I bought nothing), and near the video game section I saw something I wish I could've caught on video (and posted to youtube). But I didn't have a good camera handy, and my phone's movie mode would've been rather a bit lacking. So it's time to dust off your imagination (take that, you click-happy tweens).

In front of me, there was a kid playing Guitar Hero. For those not in the know, Guitar Hero is a console video game that comes with a plastic guitar-like controller, and players push fret-like buttons while doing a motion similar to strumming, in time with popular rock and metal songs (or cover versions thereof). The kid appeared to have average skills, hitting the correct buttons at the right time. This was not the remarkable part, of course. Much more interesting than the player, was the kid standing next to him, fingers in the air, miming the same notes.

He was playing air Guitar Hero. There was, of course, a second guitar controller on the demo kiosk, but I think he was probably having more fun playing his fantasy version of the song than actually hitting the buttons. Or he was trying to be supportive of his buddy. Or perhaps he was doing a very convoluted form of mockery.

Anyway, I thought it was pretty funny. Guitar Hero, from my feeble attempts to play it, is already once removed from the actual experience of playing the guitar. This kid found a way to do it one better, I guess. And about 50 to 80 bucks cheaper, too.

* I almost wrote "...weekdays I wasn't working" there, but with something of a slowdown at work I don't know if I can count all the hours I was there as hours I really worked. I was there, and available for work, there just wasn't any to do at the moment. Hence the deathmatch tournaments of Nexuiz, and before that, Marathon Infinity (through the magic of AlephOne).

3 August 2007

back from the dead

Several weeks ago two things happened. I received a Nintendo Wii, and my TV died.

These are not two events most people would want to combine. And I'd imagine few people would want the latter to happen at all*.

The TV just stopped powering on. For an hour or two I messed with it, pushing the power button, unplugging and replugging it to the surge protector, and the wall, and even had broken out the screwdrivers, and removing two of the outer case screws before giving up to sleepiness.

I'd looked it up, of course - there was a slight chance all I'd need to do was get a three dollar fuse from Radio Shack, and I'd be back in business. However I didn't check it the next day, as the TV turned on and seemd to be functioning normally.

It's easy to begin projecting emotions and intentions on frustrating things - I began to wonder if it was trying to spite me by working for Jessica and not for me.

It remained in complete working order (well, except for the already dodgy S-video plug on the back) for over a week before shutting down completely again, and this time for more than a few hours.

In the weeks that followed it would occasionally work, sometimes for half an hour to forty five minutes at a stretch, but more often than not my hopeful attempts with the remote and power button were greeted with nothing but sad silence and darkness.

Last Thursday I broke down and hauled it to a nearby repair shop, and they estimated it would be just over a hundred bucks to fix it. I'd been pricing out my options for a similar set (size-wise, at least. I now know that the two-tuner picture-in-picture and home automation features are much more than I need from a TV) and nothing was anywhere below more than twice that. The really intriguing ones were about five hundred bucks, which is close to what I'd paid for this set those seven or eight years ago.

The TV stand looked particularly forlorn without the TV, which, though it isn't turned on much, is nevertheless a large fixture in the room. The cats were more than happy to have a new surface on which to play, but the stand soon became a shelf and then a pile for cords, video games, and other things that shouldn't have been on the floor.

All of that's cleaned up (or at least moved elsewhere) now, since last night i picked the fixed TV up and put it back. Jessica and I got to finally watch the first half Mission Impossible III - it had died in the first few minutes in what I had at first thought was just the lights being turned off onscreen - which frankly, from the looks of it so far, wasn't worth waiting to see. But now I can finally get the Wii connected again, and maybe convince Jessica to join me for a few frames of bowling or other fun.

That is, of course, when I'm not actively keeping Natalya from climbing the furniture and eating the cords, and reading the 20-odd books I'd reserved from the library, most of which only showed up yesterday. Oops.

* Having spent a week or two pricing out tube TVs, I had gotten a little bit excited at the prospects a new set could offer. I know someday I'll need that digital tuner that's now built into most sets, but the chance of replacing my TV with something widescreen, or HDMI capable (so I could plug my computer into it and use it as a really, really big monitor) certainly intrigued me. I can't imagine considering buying a new TV without having the old one die, so I guess that would be a good thing, almost.

17 June 2007

happy father

So today was Father's Day, the first one since Natalya was born. Generally for me, as far as I could remember, Father's Day was a day to give my Dad a card and a phone call, and that's about it. I don't remember doing any special stuff (breakfast in bed, etc.) in the past, and didn't really feel the need to, well, need any special treatment myself.

My daughter's a bit young to really get into it anyway*.

My wife, on the other hand, gave me a brand new radio-controlled helicopter. I've always enjoyed playing with radio-controlled toys, having destroyed at least three cars as a child, and having seen my neighbor's collection of helicopters I have wanted one for a while (as seen on my wishlist).

Knowing they were complicated and difficult to control, I actually read the manual a few times while I waited for the batteries to charge.

With the Jessica and Natalya safely inside, I attempted some brief flights. It only took me about an hour to crash and break it beyond repair, at least until I track down some spare parts.

* I'm fairly certain her signature on the card I received was forged, too.