Monthly Archives: June 2013

Old Skewl Re-Blog: Goodbye Old Friend

I don’t have much to write about today, been too busy with work, and generally, when I’m not at work I don’t like to re-live it all over, haha.

So I’m gonna try something new… er… old.  Here’s a blast from 6 years ago.  Life sure is a lot different now.

 


Goodbye Old Friend: January 4th, 2007

This is all that remains of my old 1990 Pontiac 6000, which  later came to be affectionately referred to as “Lil’ Brudder” (inspired by this Strongbad e-mail.)  Lil’ Brudder finally was laid to rest at the local salvage yard, sold for the grand sum of $50.

The poor car, really did have the heart of a champion.  After all it had been through, it still ran like a champ clear up until I took my last drive the other day down to the junk yard.  It didn’t all happen at once, the car has had a long history, or wrap sheet, which ever you prefer.

I have to admit, before I got the 6000 I considered them among the ugliest cars ever made, while that opinion has waned a bit over the years, I still think the A-Body offerings from Oldsmobile and Buick are far more appealing.  Below are (from left to right) the 1990 Buick Century, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, and Pontiac 6000.

Since I already didn’t care much for the styling of the car, I decided that I’d go ahead and have some fun with it.  And three rolls of 1″ white electrical tape later, the car had racing stripes, effectively adding 300 horsepower.  I always hated the front grille and headlight design more than anything.  And sticking with the electrical tape trend, I blacked out the fog lights on the inside to make the grill seem less puny and to take some of the focus off the gawdy headlights.  This is probably the best Lil’ Brudder ever looked.

It didn’t last long though.  As most everyone knows, the car has a long history of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Most of the accidents weren’t my fault though.  Let’s see if I can remember all of them…

The Accidents:

#1 – Within the first month of moving to Manhattan a hail storm blew through and pelted the car.  Good thing I had insisted on that full coverage insurance at the time.  (Not my fault)

#2 – Rearended by some guy with a suspended lisence while at a stop sign in Manhattan.  Busted out the rear tail light covers and pushed the trunk in.  (Not my fault)

#3 – Pushed into a gaurdrail by a big moving truck that didn’t stay in the inside lane when turning left through an intersection.  I was in the right lane, he started moving in, and there was no where to go.  (Not my fault)

#4 – Hit in the left front fender while at my sister Jamie’s apartment.  Never found the cluprit.  (Not my fault)

#5 – Car spun while hitting a patch of ice going to work.  Spun the car 180 degrees and slid into the curb blowing out the left rear tire and bending the rim. (Okay, that was my fault.)

#6 – The deer.  (Not much you can do when they jump right infront of you.)

So after all this is added up…you get…

Ouch!  I almost forgot how that car looked the morning after the wreck.  Still running like a champ though and I couldn’t exactly afford a new car, so I had to drive this thing.  But first I had to make it legal and get two working headlights.

Thanks to a $5 Wal-Mart bolt on flood light, I did.

And this is how she looked until just the other day when she drove off into the sunset.  It was certianly an ugly car to begin with, and even uglier in the end.  I really think the car would have drove forever.  But in the end, it needed a lot of work, a lot of attention, and a lot of money to make presentable on a car that I wasn’t too crazy about in the first place.  After all we’ve been through together though, I must admit it earned a special place in my heart.  For a little car that got no love, and went though it all, it never would give up.  Heart of a champion…*sniffle*.

A new generation, and rebuilding of the Retro Room.

Jake Me N64

My little brother Jake came up this past weekend.  For the past two weeks, he’s been calling me every couple of days asking about GoldenEye.  What we can do, what levels we can play, and most importantly, what cheats we can use.  Haha.  I don’t think he typically plays a lot of games, but for whatever reason he’s really latched on to GoldenEye.  In fact, I haven’t seen anyone this excited about GoldenEye since… me.

So we spent a large amount of time playing that.  I was content to spectate.  As I’ve said before, I almost like watching people play games, more than actually playing them.  Which is why I still nag Andrea once in a while to play through Final Fantasy X.  It’s just so fun watching people discover the game as they play.  It’s as close as I can get to playing it again for the first time.

More than anything, I found it remarkable that an 8 year old kid in 2013 is at all interested in a game that is literally twice as old as he is.  Compared to games today GoldenEye must some mundane to some extent.  But I appreciated and enjoyed our shared enthusiasm.

Jake GoldenEye

If you’ll notice the TV on the floor in the picture above.  Luke has since moved into the old Retro Room.  So we moved that TV upstairs.  It is a heavy bastard.  Much more than one person can handle alone.  So in a time crunch, I had to set everything up like that, because I knew I’d be at work, and Jake would NOT want to wait until I got home to play GoldenEye.

Later this weekend, Andrea was able to help me get the TV up on the stand, and I started rebuilding the Retro Room.

Seems like a nice spread to me.  =)  One thing to note, is that little of that has been actual collecting, for collecting’s sake.  A vast majority is just accumulation over time.  Most people garage sale old games and systems once they are bored with them, I just never did and now I have a ton of this stuff.  This is all pretty much everything before HD consoles.  The only things missing are the Wii games which we still keep downstairs to play on the Wii U, and the ridiculous amount of controllers.  Everything else from 1987 – 2012 is pretty much right here.  Kinda weird to see all that history and all the memories in one place.

Gameboys

I like this arrangement better than what I had in the old room.  Rather than a straight line from left to right.  Looks pretty good I think for some free cards from Club Nintendo, and $1 frames from Dollar Tree.

Andrea Gameboy

You can’t be around all these classic games and NOT pick one up!  Andrea found Super Mario Land 2 and decided to give it a go.

Andrea Luke SMB3

And there’s pretty much the current setup.  I like it better than the previous arrangement.  I still have to swap some cables out to get some of the systems playable, but for the most part, it’s all within 60 seconds of being ready to play.  I have an idea for controller storage I’m excited to try and I want to try to find a few more things for the walls.  But the Retro Room is back!  That’s the important thing.

The Craziest Vacation Ever

Having fun shouldn’t be this hard.  We had a family reunion to go to in Lowell, Indiana.  Since it’s so close to Chicago, we thought, heck, let’s swing through.

Two days before we get ready to hit the road, the Jeep starts losing oil pressure.  I haven’t fully diagnosed it yet.  But best case scenario, the oil pressure is fine, just the gauge is screwed up.  Worst case… we need a new motor.  Ugh.  So figured it wasn’t a good idea to set out on a 30 hour round trip drive in the thing, so we took Andrea’s mom’s car instead.  Sufficed to say, things were a little cozier in a Carolla than they would have been in the Jeep.

Between late starts, detours for Andrea’s sister to get a rental car, stops to eat, etc, etc… after leaving home Thursday night, we finally arrived in Chicago almost 24 hours later at around 10PM.  Didn’t have time to go up any of the skyscrapers or anything like that.  But we did go to Navy Pier that night for about an hour and a half.  And DID have some fun!

If you look closely you can see the moon next to one of the buildings in the distance. Pretty cool sight in person.

View from the top of the Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier.

I knew Chicago was big, but I didn’t know HOW big. Would be fun to visit, but I would hate living there.

So at about midnight, we left town and headed on to Lowell.  Tolls everywhere.  Geesh, I couldn’t afford to drive there on a daily basis.  Seemed like we were plonking down $4.00 every couple of miles.

The family reunion part was good.  Had a lot of fun, played a lot of games.  Some Cards Against Humanity, and some lawn games when the weather was nicer.

Grandma and Luke are playing with bubbles. Luke was EXCITED!

Andrea sharked everybody tossing beanbags, just like she does with washers.

So we all got up and around Sunday morning.  Then we just kinda hung around for a while, waiting for Andrea’s Aunt to come home, only to find out she wasn’t going to make it home in the first place!  So we left about 3 hours later than planned.  Again, between stopping to eat, pit stop in KC to return the rental car, yadda, yadda, we finally made it home about 4:30AM Monday morning.  And then I’m off to work at 9AM.  Took it upon myself to get an extra hour of sleep.

So I never really want to do a vacation like that again.  Not saying it wasn’t worth it, but it was just way too exhausting.  It took me until about Wednesday to finally get back on track.

So now back to the daily grind.  Off to work today, and hopefully can finish getting my yard mowed tonight… between this trip and work there’s been no daylight to get it done.  C’est’ la vous.

 

 

Nintendo’s E3 Direct: First Impressions

NOTE: I started writing these thoughts days ago.  Finally got time to finish them.  Sorry for the delay.

Iwata

I’ve always enjoyed E3.  Even as my fanaticism about gaming has waned to make room for other important things in life, I’ve always still enjoyed E3 as a few days to relive all those times I used to get ridiculously excited about games and hardware that were coming out.  Hearing about amazing new hardware, mind blowing Zelda games, and the huge adventures that I would… someday… get to experience.  This year though, I was left with the feeling of, “That’s it?”

Maybe it’s just the way it was presented that made the games seem less exciting this year, or maybe, the games were less exciting.  Listening to Iwata speak English at length is strenuous.  I appreciate the fact that the president of the company wants to be there to represent Nintendo to fans and the media, and it’s not just some paid spokesperson, but for something like E3, where I’m used to things being sorta bigger than real life, I was a bit underwhelmed.  Reggie is still the man for this job, I say.  I usually enjoy Iwata in other Nintendo Directs, so maybe what I’m getting at here is that Nintendo Direct might not have been my preferred platform for Nintendo at E3.  If I could have the old press conference back, I’d take it.

reggie_fils_aime

Reggie: Known for “Kicking Ass, Taking Names, and Making Games”

So what about the games?  Well, let me say right away, I’m probably going to buy about half of them.  Haha.  And I suppose from Nintendo’s perspective, then these announcements were a success.  Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and Donkey Kong Country are all probably eventually going to find their way into my library.  But nothing was jaw dropping.

Probably my biggest disappointment was Mario Kart 8.  This coming off of Mario Kart 7 which I have been thoroughly impressed with on the 3DS.  Mario Kart 8 seems like just 7 on the Wii U… with antigravity.  Really?  I never really thought a game that revolved around tossing banana peels and firing heat seeking turtle shells could “jump the shark” but it may just be possible.  Part of the problem is that Mario Kart is a 20 year old idea that may already be fully evolved.  No longer can you rely on improved graphics to re-pack and sell essentially the same game, and keep it feeling fresh.  Visual upgrades are now so incremental, that it was easy for me to look at Mario Kart 8 was 95% the same game as Mario Kart 7, a handheld game!  All that said… I’ll still buy it because it is Mario Kart.  Nintendo wins.

Mario Kart 8

Render from Mario Kart 8… yes, there have been 8!

I felt almost exactly the same with Super Mario 3D World.  I was really expecting something more along the Galaxy line.  And I was HOPING more for a more traditional type sequel to Super Mario 64.  But instead a game was announced that I felt like I had already played.  I am 100% certain that this game will be amazing, solid, and successful.  But the announcement itself was disappointing.  Will I buy this one?  Yup.  Nintendo wins again.

Super Mario 3D World, not Land.

Super Mario 3D World, not Land.

One of the titles I’m most excited for, Wii Fit U, was announced… to be delayed until December.  So another aww shucks.

All in all, Nintendo’s software lineup for 2013 looks solid, safe, and predictable.  I don’t think they’ll have any trouble selling games.  All I’m saying is I feel like E3 could have delivered me a bit more this year.

 

The Retro-Room Has Been Evicted!

What was the “Retro-Room” is now officially “Luke’s Room”.  We had some doubt about how he would take to moving downstairs and into a room all by himself.  And turns out, he couldn’t be happier apparently!  He went to sleep without a single peep!  We’ll see how he handles the morning though when he wakes up and Mommy isn’t right there.

I for one am super happy.  I always feel like I have to tip-toe around in the morning getting ready because I don’t want to wake Luke up, and that in turn wakes Andrea up.  So this way, I don’t have to go into his room at all and he can stay zonked out.

As for the retro-room.  I guess all that stuff is getting relocated to our bedroom, which is really two rooms that got combined at some point in the past.  So there is plenty of room up there.  But I thought with it in our bedroom it would be less accessible when guests come over.  But then I thought, who am I kidding.  In all the time we’ve had guests over, maybe once did we spend any time in the retro room.  I guess I’m alone in my love for these old games.  If nothing else, hopefully in our bedroom, and having the opportunity to look at them each day, they will get a little more play time, at least by me..

It’s Not Dead Yet

Toronado Resurrection

Hells yeah.  The Toronado is BACK!  If you missed it, the Toro has been out of service since September 2012.  A bracket that secures the output shaft busted so there was no way to hold the passenger side axle in place.  Thus, the car wouldn’t go.  After spending a few months hunting around for parts, I finally took the broken part to Dad to have him weld back together.  A couple weeks ago I got the part back (a long with a bunch of old work shirts to securely pack it) but I haven’t had time to put it all back together until today.

Toronado Cut My Thumb

In the process of getting  everything lined up, I sliced open my thumb pretty good.  Not enough to need stitches or anything, but I could have helped out the Red Cross with all the blood that came out.  The above is the best I could do bandaging it up with one good hand.  Andrea was able to help me later get a better wrap.  After this I almost considered calling it a day.  But I wasn’t going to let it beat me.  I figured if I gave in, it would see my fear and know it could get away with muscling me around.  I wasn’t going to let that happen.

There’s not much to report as far as the work that went into it.  It’s all been documented here before in more detail than anyone besides me cares about.  The only part that matters is when I got it all put back together, it works!  HUGE thanks to Dad who was able to do what I wasn’t in welding up the old part.

It took quite a while to start up.  The carb was dry from sitting so long so it took a while for the fuel to get all the way up from the tank.  But once it started, it was as smooth as always.  I put the car in gear, just waiting for a gruesome noise and for all my work to be for naught.  But it firmly grabbed.  I lightly gave it some gas, and it moved!  Like a grand ocean liner sliding from its ways.  It was a good feeling!  So quiet, so comfortable, so smooth.  Ever since I got that car, it always had this feeling about it that it could almost drive itself.  Everything about driving it feels so effortless.  I drove it around town for a bit and really wanted to take it out on the hiway, but the thing hasn’t been tagged or insured since its been out of service.  So I reluctantly drove it back and parked it, right where it’s been for the past 8 months.

So now that it’s running, here’s where I’m at with the car….

We don’t need it.  We’ve got two cars and a pleasure car already.  What we really need is an old work truck.  But I can’t really justify getting one of those when we’ve got so many things with an engine already.  If it weren’t around, that might make room for something like that.

It’s not worth anything.  Realistically I figure I might get $500 for it.  It has 260,000 miles, hail damage, rips in the seat, and the vinyl is really starting to show its age.  It’s just an old car.  So considering it’s worth so little, I just as well keep it around.  I DO really like the car.  It’s comfortable, until the axle busted it was remarkably reliable.  So right now the sentimental value outweighs its intrinsic value.  I wasn’t motivated to get rid of it when it WASN’T running.  So I’m even less now.

So… what the Toronado might do, is help preserve the Cutlass.  I figure, especially during the winter, when the weather is nasty, the roads are all salty and idiots are sliding around, I’ll take the Toronado.  It will keep the salt from eating up the Cutlass and if some doofus slides into the Toronado, so be it.

In the mean time.  There’s a few things it really NEEDS done before I can confidently drive it out of town.  1.) Ball joints.  The lowers are SUPER worn out.  Might as well do the uppers at the same time.  They’ve probably been like that for a while, but now that I’m aware of it, it really bothers me.  2) I need some thread lock on some of the fasteners I used.  I have deduced that the reason the bracket broke in the first place is that one or both of the bolts came loose.  Then as the torsion caused the axle to wobble, eventually the bracket broke from the vibration.

Then there’s the long list of little stuff that needed done before all this.

At any rate, it feels supremely good to have it mobile again.  If we want to play basketball in the driveway, all we have to do is move it.  It’s not just a broke down old car any more, it’s an OLD CAR again!  I love old cars!  And I really love that old car.  It’s been the best car I’ve ever had.  And having it going again is like being back home after a long vacation.  It’s… comforting.

It got there under its own power!

It got there under its own power!

Already Missed a Day

Third day in… and I’ve already broken my commitment to post every day.  Dang it!  But you know what?  I’m not going to apologize or feel guilt for it.  Yesterday was a pretty good day.

Saturday started out pretty much like a regular work day for me.  I had to get up and be at the radio station by 8AM to finish up some stuff I didn’t get done Friday, then I had a remote from 10AM to Noon.  So at least it was a half day if anything.  And the remote itself was pretty cool.  I was hanging out at a car dealership with 3 classic dragsters, a new Shelby GT500 and a new Dodge Challenger or two.  So as far as working goes, it wasn’t too bad.

Nostalgia Dragsters

After that I headed home, and really didn’t accomplish a whole lot.  Took a nap.  Watch a storm roll in.  We were expecting some hail, but it turned out just to be a nice good soaking rain, free water for the yard!  Then it was pretty much time to eat, played with Luke.  Luke went to bed and then… I actually got to play some Guild Wars 2!  It’s been about as long since I’ve played that game as it has since I had posted on the blog.

So even though I didn’t get a post made yesterday, I had a very enjoyable today.  I’m hoping for today to be equally as good, but a bit more productive.  As soon as Andrea gets up and around, I’m going to see if she can watch Luke and I’m going to get some work done on the cars (all four of them, ugh) that I’ve been putting off.

Hockey? Yes.

Bruins Sweep

More than any other sport this season (including football) I have watched and thoroughly enjoyed hockey.  I guess it helps when your team you’re cheering for keeps winning!

How did I get so into hockey?  And why the Bruins?  Well first off, the main thing that got me into hockey… the fights.  Most other sports, if two guys start laying into each other, they stop the game and break up the fight.  In hockey, they stop the game, so they can finish the fight!  It’s awesome!

So I made up my mind, I wanted to get more into the sport.  But I didn’t know who to cheer for.  There’s certainly no local teams to cheer for.  And I didn’t want to arbitrarily just pick a team.  So in 2010, I made a statement that before the season even began; before the first game was ever played.  That the team that went all the way that year, not only wins the Stanley Cup, but more importantly: me, as a fan for life.  That turned out to be the Bruins. Now they’re heading back to the Stanley Cup.  Just swept the Penguins 4 games in a row and have as much momentum now as they’ve had all season.  I really like the way we’re playing.

There have been some completely AMAZING moments in this season.  The likes of which I haven’t ever experienced in ANY sport.

Like a comeback from 3 goals down in the 3rd period to win game 7.

Or watching somebody get a broken leg blocking a shot for his team… then getting back up to finish the job.

I don’t know if I’ve seen anything like those two videos in any other sport in all the years I’ve watched.  Hockey is a hardcore, no excuses, lay it all on the line contest.  After this season, I think I’m hooked for good.

Reboot

clv1217c

It was time.  The blog has a fresh coat of paint.  It had been over a month since my last post, and even longer since I’d actually written any content.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to write about.  And it wasn’t even that I was as busy as I’d like to think I was.  Here it is, 40 minutes past my bedtime, and I’m FINALLY making a new post and re-themed the blog!  It’s not because I’m any less busy.  I worked until 8PM tonight.  I just decided to finally make it a priority.

I had tossed around in my head how I want to use this blog.  Before I went off the grid, it seems like traffic was picking up a bit.  As more people started coming by and as I noticed some of the same people coming back I started to think about narrowing the scope of what I’m posting about.  By far the highest traffic posts were my gaming posts.  The stuff about Guild Wars 2 and retro gaming seem to get quite a few hits.  The stuff about my old car and Luke don’t see near as much attention.  I thought about making the blog here gaming exclusive.

However, I come back to my original philosophy with this blog.  It is, and always has been, entirely self serving.  This is my personal blog.  At least as personal as I wish to be on a public forum such as this.  It’s my corner of the internet, and I enjoy posting about whatever eccentric topic I see fit for the day.  I intend to keep it that way, for better or worse.

What I may do is create a new blog that is 100% gaming focused.  Maybe even exclusively retro gaming as that’s where my heart truly lies.  I can cross post stuff here and there, but also get into the real macro of gaming there.  Stuff that would completely bore absolutely everyone I know in the real world, but other obsessed geeks like me could find some value in.  But one thing at a time.  Let me get back in the habit of feeding this beast first.

I am re-committing myself.  From here on out, I intend to make a post every day.  Significant or not.  Gaming related or not.  It won’t last forever, I know.  But it’s a good exercise in giving some love to the blog, and most importantly, capturing some of the more significant (small) moments in life and documenting them before I forget them and those thoughts and experiences are truly lost forever.  For whatever it’s worth, this blog really has helped shape me as a person, as it helps me catalog my thoughts from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs.  It helps keep me grounded, and not get swept away by the torrents of outside influence and all the ideas of who everyone else wants me to be.  Hopefully every next post is more “me” than the last.