Today Jantina and I got up early and went car shopping for my birthday! Actually, I’ve been reading up on cars and interviewing others about their recommendations for a few weeks now, so the timing was a coincidence really.
We started at 8:30 and by 1:30 we we were driving our new silver Acura TL! We need to take it in later this week to get a handful of accessories added (ipod adapter, a spoiler, and body-side molding). Our previous car, the Pontiac Grand Prix, was seven years old with 135,000 miles. We’re really excited about the new ride.
For lunch we picked up my free Birthday Club creation from Cold Stone and then went home and programmed the car for my garage door opener and cell phone.
Jantina took me to Artist Point for dinner. My favorite things there are the smoky mushroom soup, buffalo sirloin, and the coffee two ways dessert.
A traveling co-worker like myself purchased an XBOX 360 to play at the hotel while on projects. We are both in DC this week, and have been playing in the evenings. Last night, we played classic Gauntlet through XBOX Live Arcade. There were three of us, so we were just going to play a little bit before popping in his new copy of Madden 07. Well, we kept going, we passed level 20, and before long level 60. We thought there was an achievement to unlock at level 80, and we already had so much time in, we decided to press forward to get the level 80 award. Once we got to level 80, and there was no notice of accomplishment, we looked up the achievements online and discovered it was actually for completing level 100! Well, there was no way we were going to stop at this point… so we continued through level 100, and achieved the level 100 “Game Master” achievement! This took us from around 8:00pm to 2:00am … yikes!
Jantina and I have been spending our Saturdays in the pool lately. It’s fun just floating around and catching some rays, but being in the back yard brings to mind a few annoyances.
My yard is dead. I’ll probably have to re-sod the whole thing. Our friend Jeff planted some bushes for us in our conservation lot behind the house. The previous owner had actually cleared a good portion of it, and we’d like to fill it back in.
I have two new neighbors, one on each side of the house. On the one side, the house’s previous owner had left his fence piled up next to his house for over a year after hurricane Charley took it out. The new owner decided to put the fence back up, which seemed like a good idea, but it is really ghetto. The pieces had made a nice white vinyl fence, but they decided to just drill those parts into some wooden 4 by 4s. It does not look nice, but it does provide some privacy.
The new neighbors on the other side had some old leather sofas that appeared to be make-shift patio furniture. It turned out that the pieces were just on their way to the dump, so our worry was premature. They do blow clippings into our pool when they mow the yard, which is mildly annoying, but those do get cleaned up by our pool filter before we jump in.
All-in-all, it is a quiet neighborhood, but the home owners association needs to step it up a bit…. although then they’d probably tell me about my dead yard too.
I picked up Chromehounds this weekend for my 360. It is fun, deep, and complicated. I don’t think I could easily recommend it to others because it requires a large commitment of time and isn’t as easy to get into, the audience is a little more exclusive than your typical console game.
For example, you can’t just join a random game and be matched up with others to play. You’ll want to join a squad, which will have to accept you for one of their limited slots. Then each time you sign-on, you’ll automatically be in that squad’s room and you’ll take part in battles that make up a larger persistent war. This is great for building camaraderie and a better sense of immersion into the game’s environment, but it does not allow for the typical XBOX Live model of playing with among the 200 people on your Live Friends list, popping in and out of games.
There are all kinds of customization options for the “hounds” themselves and there are already plenty of virtual gear heads providing recommendations and tuning tips to the newbies like myself. I’m still a rookie but typically have 3-6 other squad members online when I sign-on that share their experiences with me.
I just hope this game doesn’t disappear into obscurity like Steel Battalion because this type of game only works when you have a good group of people available to play with and against!
EDIT: I just discovered that there is a “Free Battle” option that is not associated with the large persistent war which does allow the more standard invites and random pickup games with whomever you want.
I made up this map of where I’ll be this weekend, outside Milwaukee, Wis., at Cooler Classic 18. The map they provide bothers me because it isn’t to scale. Several of us are carpooling up together.
UPDATE: I played with the Peoria Parrots team. Results are here. We had some problems, which is always disappointing … but I had fun overall. We ended up taking two cars up, with three (Mae, T.J., Brian) going up Friday night and two of us (Carlos, me) driving up Saturday morning.
And I got stung by a bee right before we left Sunday. Mae, Carlos and I drove back together and we stopped for dinner in Oglesby, Ill., at Moore’s Root Beer Stand.
PHOTO: Steffanie took a picture of me, Mike, Brian while a bunch of us were at dinner Saturday night.