Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Torchwood, Brother Odd and Rocking

Torchwood just keeps getting better and better this season. I mean, the season started off with a bang and it really hasn’t let up. My wife and I caught ‘Dead Man Walking’ last night and, needless to say, we enjoyed it. For some reason, I get the distinct impression that everything we’ve seen so far during this season is building towards something: there’s definitely some momentum there that wasn’t present during the first season. Anyway, it definitely makes for some good escapist television.

I also started reading ‘Brother Odd’ by Dean Koontz not too long ago after finishing ‘Industrial Magic’ by Kelley Armstrong and, in keeping along with typical Koontz fare as of late, this one is yet another engrossing page turner. It’s the 3rd book with Odd Thomas as the main character and I’m glad to see him again. The last book by Koontz I read, ‘Life Expectancy’, was absolutely fantastic: it was funny without actually being funny, which sounds odd when I write it like that. What I mean by that is that the characters in ‘Life Expectancy’ were sometimes put in very tense and difficult situations, but their reactions to said situations were often laugh out loud funny! You honestly couldn’t believe at times that you were laughing through the hardships the characters were enduring, but there you go. Well, all that to say that ‘Brother Odd’ is definitely NOT in the same vein as ‘Life Expectancy’. Don’t get me wrong, some of Koontz’s trademark wit is still very much present, but there’s just this hanging feeling of dread to the narrative... (not that I’d blame Odd for feeling that way with everything that has happened to him, but I digress). It still makes for a captivating read though, and further cements Koontz, in my mind, as one of the most capable character writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

Also, today is the day that the Nine Inch Nails DLC is released for ‘Rock Band’, so I very much look forward to getting home tonight and rocking through ‘The Collector’, ‘March of the Pigs’ and ‘The Perfect Drug’. Mind you, I’m thinking that my arms might fall off if I attempt the latter on drums, but in the name of rock, it just might be worth it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stardust, Falcon's and cars

You mean I have to take two days off before the end of March or else I lose those? Ok, if you insist... I’ll just have to sacrifice myself. So, in other words: I’m liking working for the government.

I heard David 4.9 rustling in his bed this morning around 5:30 and couldn’t get myself back to sleep after that. This literal wake-up call acted as a reminder NOT to put big toys by his bed when he goes down for the evening, since the plastic on his Millennium Falcon takes on amazingly loud characteristics in the early morning throughout the house. It very much sounded like he was conducting a thorough search for contraband spices on the Falcon, and I wasn’t very interested in his findings that early in the morning. Needless to say, today feels a bit off.

The search for a used car continues. I had the opportunity to test drive a 1995 Elantra over the weekend that someone was trying to sell, and even though the car handled pretty well, there were patches of ruse on it that were worrisome. The price ($1200) was extremely modest, but I didn’t see the point of being a vehicle that could possibly be beyond repair if anything happened. Essentially, upon opening the hood, you could see a few holes being poked through where the shock support is. Eventually, you’d probably hit a pot hole the wrong way and the shock absorber could very well possibly come right through the hood: not a good situation to be in with little recourse in repairing the vehicle. So, we’re still looking for that second car.

Lastly, my wife and I watched ‘Stardust’ last night. It captured the feel of Neil Gaiman’s book very well and was a very cute movie. I had heard it compared to ‘The Princess Bride’, and really the only thing it shares with that movie is a whimsical fantasy setting and some well done humour. I don’t think it will become a classic such as the aforementioned Princess Bride, but it was entertaining none the less. We actually rented it through Xbox Live and went for the HD version, which did look markedly better than a standard DVD: the colors were gorgeous and certain details seemed to ‘pop’ more. Of course, the movie was just shy of 6 gigs to download, so it definitely took a few hours to get the whole film, but if you plan a few hours ahead, I found the experience very convenient. Obviously, the film must be heavily compressed in order to fit under the 6 gig mark, since I believe HD-DVD’s and Blu Ray movies take up a heck of a lot more space. I’d be interested to compare the downloaded film quality and the physical disc based version... Maybe I’ll google that later today.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You know you’ve been having a few busy days when:

1 - You don’t have the chance to update the blog for 2 days straight.

2 - You actually start forgetting things you’ve done during the morning

3 - You go to bed at 9:15 PM.

It’s just been crazy at work for the last few days and I literally have not seen the days go by. It’s like I get in to work at 8AM, sit down at my desk to go through some files, look up at the clock and it’s break time. Take a little break, come back at my desk to go through some more files and run those to the correct locations if need be, then first thing I know, it’s freakin’ lunch time. I return from my meal and go over some faxes, and it’s time for yet another break before I have time to seemingly blink. Then, it’s 4PM and time to go home. What is that about? Don’t mind me, I’m not really complaining, it’s just that I’m not used to the days flying by so quickly. That, and I walk so much during my workday that I feel I should strap a little paper number to my back and scream "I WIN!" every time I leave work, but that’s just me.

I still need to find a second car... I’ve got a few spotted off Kijiji that I might look into, but honestly I’m not looking to spend much more than $3000 on an additional vehicle. Hopefully we can score one ASAP in order to make our lives that much easier.

Tonight, I’m committing to staying up late: oh yeah, 10 PM for this night owl, baby.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scorcho Type Love?

New Rock Band songs on the download horizon today: ‘Sex Type Thing’ by Stone Temple Pilots, ‘El Scorcho’ by Weezer and ‘Why Do You Love Me’ by Garbage. The Garbage tune is a shoe in for me and I’ll definitely download that one tonight, but I wasn’t familiar with the two other songs. Actually, scratch that: I didn’t think I knew ‘Sex Type Thing’, but upon checking the video out on You Tube, I definitely have a passing familiarity with it even though I couldn’t place the title. ‘El Scorcho’ is new to me though and I’m not that sure if I like it, so that one falls in the ‘pass’ category for me.

The new job is going well: I’m starting to see a lot more of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff and gather a better understanding as to how the department functions. Plus, I’m voluntarily taking on more stuff, so the day just flies right by at this point since I’m keeping myself much more occupied. The fact that the workday is from eight to four definitely helps as well though: I was used to being at my former workplace for eight and a half hours a day and the fact that I’m here half an hour less a day makes one heck of a difference. Initially, I didn’t think it would be to big of a deal, but it really does change the flow to the whole day. I like it. Tomorrow is payday, so I’ll also get to see what kind of cash influx I can expect in the future.

Recently, my wife has started watching ‘Project Runway’, and we’re presently making our way through Season 2. I have next to no knowledge in regards to the fashion industry, but watching this show is quite entertaining. I typically don’t enjoy reality shows such as Survivor, Big Brother and the like, but I enjoy ‘Project Runway’ because the amount of backstabbing, whining and bitching is kept at a minimum and the focus is on creative people being creative. That’s always been something that fascinates me, be it in regards to writers, movie directors, musicians, painters, game designers, what have you: I find something magical about the creative process these people go through. Watching these designers come up with a concept and then execute it to the best of their ability intrigues me, and I think that’s what keeps me entertained with this show.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Indiana Jones and Lost Bacon Press

The cat decided we had slept enough around 5 o’clock this morning, causing me to consider what feline stew might taste like. No need to alert PETA right away though, since I was way too lazy to get some water boiling at 5 AM. I might sauté him tomorrow though if this keeps up.

I saw the new Indiana Jones trailer over the weekend, and it’s uniformly excellent! It actually prompted me to go and pick up the DVD set of the prior movies and we managed to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on Saturday night. Talk about a movie that aged well: it’s still exciting, funny and a blast to watch. Harrison Ford once talked about the differences between Indy and Han Solo, and being the Star Wars nut that I am, I was definitely able to see his opinion when watching Raiders. You see, Ford believes that one of the main differences between the characters is that Han was an extremely capable smuggler: he was an excellent pilot, somewhat of a rogue and impulsive. Indy, on the other hand, got in way over his head on multiple occasions and barely managed to make it out alive during several instances, owing his survival to luck (primarily) and fighting dirty. Indy didn’t have the sharp reflexes or ingenuity of Solo, so he had to make due with what he had at his disposal. This concept comes right through upon viewing Raiders with that in mind and, from the looks of it, will carry right through to the fourth Indiana Jones movie. I’m very excited to see that one now. Incidentally, I managed to snag the last copy of the set at the local Future Shop: everywhere else was completely sold out, so I don't think I'm the only person who was in the mood for keeping up with Dr. Jones after seeing the trailer.

I ran into some of my old coworkers on the weekend and was quite pleased to see them (and by old-coworkers, I am not inferring anything in regards to their age... Well, maybe except a few, but they will remain nameless for now). One of them actually told me that they keep tabs of the blog, so that’s just fantastic! When I started this little thing, I didn’t really think that anyone would really read it all that much, so hearing that little tidbit of news made my week!

Lastly for now: finding a bacon press in Moncton is really, really hard.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ice Cream and Mic Stands

Well, it’s Friday: I’ve officially made it a week with this blog. Typically, during the weekends, I don’t get much of a chance to sit down at the computer since most of that time is spent running around with my family, but we’ll see if I can manage.

David 4.9, my wife and I went out for a mini-Valentine’s Day supper last night, which was nice. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day, primarily because I don’t like celebrating holidays with the initials ‘VD’, but our little outing last night was welcome and pleasant. We just essentially went to the mall and had a bite there, since being accompanied by a 4.9 year old is not quite conducive to romancing. David devoured his popcorn chicken and was then more than happy to put away some chocolate ice-cream as well. Since he was quite ill not too long ago, I’m still a bit happy inside whenever I see him succumb to his seemingly large appetite. Seeing a 4 year old not eat when he’s sick is not fun.

I’ve been thinking of going through the ‘Band World Tour’ in Rock Band by myself by using a mic stand and playing either the bass or the guitar. Do I want to be cool like Sting or just do the Thom Yorke thing? I’m not quite sure yet. I’m probably going to stop buy a local music store sometime this weekend and pic up a cheap mic stand. Then I’ll start belting out the tunes and wailing away on a plastic Stratocaster: oh yeah, it’s totally the rocker’s life for me.

The NDP numbers came out yesterday and I always find those fascinating. Fanboys love to look at the numbers and make an argument as to which console is ‘better’, but personally I just like seeing the sales trends for each unit. Here are the numbers that have been released:

Wii: 274,000
PS3: 269,000
PS2: 264,000
DS: 251,000
360: 230,000
PSP 230,000

Software wise, this is the top 5:

1- Call of Duty 4 (360) 330.9K
2- Wii Play (Wii) 298.1K
3- Guitar Hero III (Wii) 239.6K
4- Rock Band (360) 183.8K
5- Guitar Hero III (360) 182.7K

So my take on this: the Wii is still going very strong sales wise, but what’s this in the number 2 position? The PS3? Wow, how’d that happen? Well, I’m thinking that can be explained from a few different standpoints.

First off: Blu-Ray has virtually been declared the winner in the HD format wars. With Warner declaring their Blu-Ray exclusivity intentions not so long ago, Netflix stating that they’ll be phasing out HD-DVD in the near future, the writing is pretty much on the wall for HD-DVD. That can’t but help the PS3, since it’s essentially one of the cheapest (and best) Blu-Ray players on the market. Personally, I’ll wait until it drops to $299 before I pick one up, but that’s just me. Second, Sony has made positive strides in recovering from their tarnished image. It’s no secret that the advertising push behind the launch of the PS3 and the months after was absolutely horrible and, in a nutshell, insulting to the very demographic they were trying to court. Actually, scratch that, initially Sony didn’t even really KNOW at which group to aim the PS3: is it a game machine, is it a movie player, is it a media convergence device? The lack of focus really didn’t help Sony at that point, but at this moment, they seem to be making positive strides in recovering that image. Good for them. Third (and last thing I can think of) is Microsoft’s 360 ‘shortage’. See how I put ‘shortage’ in quotes there? I wasn’t just being fancy. Anecdotal evidence I’ve seen first hand to really support a shortage per se, since I spotted many Halo and Arcade units at stores last night. However, I did notice a lack of Pro’s and Elite’s, which is kind of unusual. The Xbox 360 Pro is probably the best value proposition you can get, but why does it seem so conspicuously absent in stores? There’s a conspiracy theory running around stating that Microsoft is asking retailers to return the Pro’s and Elite’s containing the Falcon chipset in order to get them potentially restocked with the new revised chipset. What that would mean for Microsoft is that, further down the line as the ‘newer’ system make their way to consumers, less failures will be accrued due to the famous ‘Red Ring of Death’ scenario. Sounds a little farfetched in my opinion. Personally I just think that Microsoft came out with this ‘shortage’ story just a few days before the NDP’s hit to offset the PS3’s time in the #2 position: even though they’re lagging behind the PS3 for the first time, well, EVER, they come out looking not quite as bad as they potentially could’ve.

Finally (for now, anyway) - Rock Band at #4? Awesome!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

For the past few weeks, I had been working on a story that's presently up to 30 pages or so. My son came down with a mean bug during the first weekend off February, and that's been on hiatus ever since then. This afternoon, however, as I was putting some files away, I got an idea for a short story that might interesting to explore. The story I worked on intially is projected to possibly be novella or small novel size since I'm aiming for at least 50,000. However, this second idea that popped in my head is definitely short story sized, and I think I'll concentrate on that for the time being in order to 'get me back in the groove', if you will.
Gamers With Jobs is a fantastic site and they put out a wonderful podcast every week. They’ve discussed Rock Band on and off quite a bit since it came out, and upon listening to the podcast this morning, even the slightest mention of Rush’s Tom Sawyer was able to firmly lodge the song in my head, quite possibly for the rest of the day. Thanks guys, it’s very appreciated.

Speaking of which, my Rock Band Stratocaster has been acting up a bit lately and I’m considering opening it up again. The last time I did so, it resumed its flawless operation as soon as I plugged it back in and only started missing some strums lately. It’s a straightforward enough fix consisting of slightly adjusting some micro-switches, so it’s not a big thing. The most time consuming part of the process is screwing and unscrewing the back of the guitar and that’s the only thing that has been holding me back from doing the small operation, since it’s a little more difficult to do when you’re alone with a 4 year old at night!

And on that thought, David 4.9 and I played some Lego Stars Wars last night, and he’s still very intrigued by the concept of Lego character suicide. Essentially, once he takes the controller from my hands, he then proceeds to either walk the little on screen Lego character off a cliff, chasm, drop or precipice, sending the little creature screaming to its death. Of course, the shout the character lets out when it realizes it’s about to meet its Lego maker varies depending on the character you’re using. So half of David 4.9’s fun is cycling to the next character and then chucking him off a cliff; rinse, lather, repeat. And don’t forget this little tidbit of information: he’s laughing his head off the whole time... Especially when he introduces Jar Jar to the law of gravity. Then again, with that particular character, I can’t help but feel a wee bit of satisfaction every time I hear him yelp.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Of Potato Heads and Faucets

People around the office are commenting on my potato heads, there’s just something alluring about both Darth Tater and the white armor clad Spud-Trooper, I suppose. Wait until I bring in Optimash Prime: that might just bring the house down.

On the domestic side, my kitchen faucet decided to bite the dust yesterday. My wife was in the middle of preparing lunch and apparently, it just stopped pouring water all of a sudden. Now, I’m not very well versed in engineering processes, but a faucet which refuses to pour water seems extremely counterproductive. In any case, my father was kind enough to come over to take a look, since initially we suspected that something might be clogging a pipe somewhere. After disassembling the faucet though, it was quite clear that the water was still running through the pipes (yes, we did turn the valves off before autopsying the thing - yay for being proactive). Upon going to the store though, I started losing hope that I might be able to resolve the issue by just buying the part I needed, since it seems semi-impossible to only purchase the spout part the faucet: you essentially have to get a whole new fixture. Either that, or send the part away to the manufacturer in order to get a new one, which wasn’t really a thought I was relishing. So I ended up in Home Depot, and even though the actual spouts weren’t available for purchase, I managed to speak with a person in the plumbing department who saw the broken spout I had been carrying, asked me to hold on a few minutes while he went a rummaged behind a display of some sort, and emerged with a spout that matched my broken one very closely (the tread was virtually the same size on both spouts, which would make screwing them into the actual faucet a heck of a lot easier). He then asked "How much do you think that’ll run you?" I answered that, honestly, I had no idea, but upon further prodding, threw out that I figured I’d be out $30. He answered that I was way off, and expecting him to name I higher price-point, I was mildly surprised when he said it was on the house. I thanked him for his help and made my gratitude pretty obvious, and needless to say I’ll be going back there if there’s ever anything I need home improvement wise: Nicely done Home Depot.

Changing gears, we’re roughly 8 weeks from our jaunt to London to attend the Starfury con. It still seems a little far away for my tastes, but hopefully the weeks will just fly by until then.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Total Tuesday

I’d like for a new car to pop up in my driveway. Wake up one morning, check outside and poof: New car! Or new used car (I’m not picky). At the moment, that’s really the only downside to the new job, since we’ll probably need an additional vehicle between my wife and I. I’ve got a few vehicles in my sight, so I’ll see what pops up from there.

Speaking of which, week two at work is shaping up nicely. I obviously have a much clearer idea of what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m only feeling more confident as I go. My coworkers are great and extremely understanding when it comes to my newbiness.

Did some DDR-ing with David 4.10 last night. Of course, it’s always some good exercise, but the little guy was quite adept at creating a compelling play list during our session. He’d essentially tell me to back up from the pad and then go in and select the songs for me, closing with a ‘there you go dad!’ It was fun; sweaty, but fun.

I’m not sure if I’m going to get any of the new downloadable content for Rock Band this week. I mean, I like The Police, The Ramones and The Clash, but I actually don’t know any of the songs they’re releasing. But in all honesty, it’s a nice problem to have, since Harmonix have done such an amazing job of releasing music at a steady pace, I’ve never felt starved for content on their platform. Plus, it’s always pleasant to be a bit surprised every week as to what’s released. With that said, just give me my Nine Inch Nails pack now, k?

Monday, February 11, 2008

What am I going to do with this?

Twitter has been kind to me, since it got me in the habit of sending small updates as to what I'm doing to any interested parties. Now, having recently switched jobs, I realized that I wanted to keep in touch with my old co-workers. Sending email updates is fine and dandy, but I had had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I might be missing someone with those little reports, and ideally I didn't want to alienate anyone. So one of those very co-workers I wanted to keep in touch with had an idea: why didn't I start a blog?

Honestly, I wasn't all that sure about that, since I don't really think I'm that fascinating a character. I remain unconvinced that the world in general wants (or needs) to know what I ate for lunch or what I thought about the latest episode of American Gladiators. There's an astronomical amount of blogs out there that touch on virtually every subject, so what could I possibly bring to the table?

I don't have an answer for that. See, if you're looking for the premiere crocheting blog, well I'm sorry to say you haven't found it. What you have found is a place where I can articulate my thoughts, musings and ideas. And also possibly share what I had for lunch, of course. You could say that this place might serve as a place to do a brain dump, where I might try to make sense of the stuff swirling in my heads sometimes, since I tend to find the action of putting down my thoughts into words somewhat cathartic. So, croctheting = out. My thoughts on the latest Rock Band DLC = probably in.

So welcome. And if you do find any killer crocheting blogs, please feel free to forward them along.