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Archive for December, 2008

December 31st, 2008: 11:11 am

For many reasons 2008 was an exciting year, but for right now, I am glad its done. Its not that the negatives outweigh the positives, but a terrible market and the prolonged general gloom that’s currently weighing on my mind makes me want to get on with a new year already.

  • Weddings – Nicholas and Tanya’s wedding in Mexico made for a good vacation and experience, while Darren and Jessie wielded the Hotel Macdonald and gourmet mini-cupcakes. Happy times for two deserving couples.
  • New house – having room for everything and a layout that suits your needs is good, having everything all shiny and new is great! Having two mortgages and sets of bills for four months waiting for the old house to sell, not so much. Having abusive neighbours was terrible, but seeing them taken away by the police, much better.
  • New car – After six patient months my new car arrived, a stronger better faster diesel car! Yay!
  • Lola’s Firsts – first crawl, first steps, and first crawl up the steps! Well the last one is more scary than the first two, but seeing Lola learn something new (and new words) at a quick rate is pretty fun. First flight (Mexico at about 12 weeks), first passport stamp, and then several more after that! A worse first was Lola’s first surgery at five months, to operate on her skull, and the month of stress leading up to that. However, Lola has proven strong and is better than ever now!
  • 30 – myself and people around me turned 30 this year. They weren’t as fortunate to receive surprise trips to see the Price is Right though. And a much needed escape from home! The last decade saw loads of events and milestones, what does the next have in store?
  • back to back to back trips – LA in September (Price is Right, Disneyland), Orlando in October (Disney World), Austin in December (Christmas Party). Outlet malls and sunshine at all of the above!
  • Dollars and sense – The market dropped out, and people are seemingly irrational with everything finance. My employer’s stock is now a quarter of what it was worth, leaving the company and some of my fellow co-workers with less value than desired. Belt tightening also makes people a little nervous. And I can’t get a decent mortgage for the new house with the little money that’s left. Thats my fault for putting that off a little too long I guess…

And its been -20°C or colder for a month now. What’s up with that? Sure it gets cold in winter, but a month straight? Maybe I’ll get a pet penguin to make it worth it. That would be sweet. I hope everyone has an enjoyable and prosperous 2009.

  • What is PETA’s stance on fur coats as a digital item/gift on facebook, or as an item of clothing on the PlayStation Home network?
  • Would a Greenpeace activist use Nuclear Power in a simulation game such as SimCity?
December 12th, 2008: 11:13 pm

Some people collect/watch lots of DVDs. I spend time playing video games. Some are amusing for a short while, some don’t quite hold your attention, and some compel you to continue playing. Here is a list of the games that I found entertaining in 2008, roughly in the chronological order that I started playing them:

* World of Warcraft (PC) (including Burning Crusade) – I succumbed to the worlds biggest time-sink at the end of December last year, and finally got my character to level 70 in mid-November. Are the lands praising my name as a hero emblazoned across all time? No, but they’re happy to get another $15 US out of my VISA each month. Play style: in bursts.
* Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360) – after trying out GTA San Andreas last year and really enjoying it, I wanted more of the same with this Next-Gen successor. Not to mention that I was only borrowing San Andreas. The plot so far in my few hours logged has been riveting, but the gratuitous swearing means I have to keep the volume down around Lola. Play style: lots initially, “I promise I’ll get back to it”
* Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution (Xbox 360) – Turn-based strategy with the goal of global domination. As a long time fan of the PC-based strategy franchise (cumulative playtime on past versions is probably second only to the EA NHL Franchise), I was drawn to this as a slightly simplified console version. It has the right feel of past games, and lets me play from the couch for hours on end instead of at the desk. Play style: can’t play it often because I know each time I start, the living room becomes the War Room for a couple of days straight.
* Boom Blox (Wii) – Initially brought to a party by Chris as a “hey check this out”, the primal urge to “throw stuff at other things” is graciously satisfied in this simplistic yet entertaining game. Play style: casual.
* NHL 09 (Xbox 360) (also NHL 08) – The EA NHL Franchise has stretches of years where I play it a little, and then some where I play it a lot. The more recent HD versions have had some amazing immersion, and great online play, leaving me wanting to play “just one more game” for the most part. Style bonus: playing the Oilers in their retro jerseys. Play style: as much as possible.
* The Orange Box (PC) (specifically Portal and Team Fortress 2) – Portal: Shoot a hole somewhere (like a wall or the floor), then shoot another hole somewhere else (perhaps on the ceiling). Whatever you put in one hole comes out the other hole. The puzzle based results definitely tickle something in the “challenge me” portion of the brain. Team Fortress 2: an eternal first person shooter struggle between the forces of red and blu, with cartoonish and lighthearted art direction. Even though I don’t last very long in a given round, the short gameplay cycles make it easy to pick up, put down, and then pick up again. Play style: the occasional evening.

Honourable Mention:
* Spore (PC) – I have purchased the game, but have not installed it yet since I think I will want to play it more than I have the time for at the moment. But thinking about it counts, right?

December 10th, 2008: 11:33 pm

Brad ponders “what three gifts would you give to make someone Happier, Healthier, and Smarter?” Here is my video-game-centric take:

HAPPIER: A Nintendo Wii. Who doesn’t like the option to play games of various genres, whilst waving your hands in the air – not to mention that spinning the globe in search of international weather and news causes amusement and delight every time.
HEALTHIER: Wii Fit (plus Balance Board). If it helps you shed weight, great, and if not, maybe you’ll learn a yoga pose or two, and learn where your centre of balance is.
SMARTER: Brain Age for the Nintendo DS. Playing sudokus and solving puzzles makes you better at playing sudokus and solving puzzles.

December 8th, 2008: 11:48 pm

Outlet Mall Stores that are closing shop! So, in addition to their regular 40% off retail prices, the store had 40% off final prices due to the fact they were closing in a few weeks (due to lease issues). That means I got shoes and a new jacket for 36% of the regular retail price (or, 64% off the regular retail price). Holy smokes that is cheap! Boy did I pick the right time to need new shoes…

[Round Rock outlet stores]

December 2nd, 2008: 11:17 pm

“Hi there, can you please look up the price of this product?” [pointing to item on receipt]

   “Its [less than half what I paid for it]”

“Okay. I’d like to get the price difference refunded back please.”

   “You purchased this over 14 days ago” [technically: something like 16 days]

“Yes, but it is within 90 days, and I can refund it correct?”


“And I can go buy it again for [less than half what I paid for it], right?”


“Can I just cut out the middle steps and take care of this here then?”

   [likely grumbling under breath]
   [price difference refunded]