Monthly Archives: July 2013

Off the Grid

Well, this weekend was Mom’s 50th Birthday celebration.  Duane, my stepdad, rented a cabin out at Coldwater lake and invited all the family out.  It was a lot of fun!  We enjoyed some frosty beverages, grilled some burgers and hot dogs and generally just did a lot of relaxing.

I made the decision that as soon as I got there I was turning the phone off.  I already warned everyone I’d be out of cell phone range.  And I can’t tell you the last time I was completely out of contact with the outside world.  No phone, no internet, nada.  I wanted to TOTALLY disconnect, and I found the experience to be a joyous one.  I just popped it off as soon as we got there and left the phone in the Jeep.  My mind was so free knowing that that phone wouldn’t, and couldn’t ring.  At first my free thoughts were wondering how things were going back at the station, or if there was severe weather.  But eventually my free thoughts became occupied by other more relaxing things like.  How beautiful the sky was, how cool it would be to build a cabin like the one we were in someday.  It was totally NON-stressful and it was great.

Luke is such a good little guy.  He really does great in pretty much every situation.  I suppose it helps that the weather was beautiful and the bugs weren’t bad at all.  He had a great time playing outside the whole time with shovels, trucks and cars.  His cousins Bryson and Brody were there and Luke was a good little worker helping them excavate the ground around our campfire.

 

We took the Jeep, which made me a bit nervous since we’ve been having issues with the oil pressure dropping down to zero.  But the whole way down and back (about 4 hours round trip) you wouldn’t even know there was a problem.  I still think there is an issue because I’ve heard the lifters ticking when the gauge drops to zero.  Most of the research points to worn out cam bearings, which at that point you might as well get an engine rebuild.  So for now we’re going to keep driving it until it starts getting noisy on a regular basis or it just plain explodes.

Bending the Rules

Well… Monday’s are supposed to be Guild Wars 2 night according to my new weekly regimen.  But I played a fair amount yesterday, and since this morning for some reason I really wanted to play Guild Wars: Original Recipe.

So I took my GW2 night and made it a GW1 night.  A lot of the night was spent opening up new birthday presents.  All my characters except one had a birthday present to open.  Seems like it must have been that long since I’ve logged in.  And I got one of my most desired minis!  The Mini Candysmith Marley!

Mini Candysmith Marley

I spent the rest of the time mostly roaming around with no purpose.  I feel like when I log into Guild Wars now, I really should have the goal of accomplishing something.  With the Hall of Monuments, some of your achievements in GW can actually carry over to GW2.  I guess I sorta met that requirement by dedicating 5 new minis I didn’t have.  Wasn’t enough to get me another point, but it got me closer.

And because I always take gratuitous screenshots.  Here’s some nostalgic screenshots from tonight!  Man I can’t believe it’s been over 7 years since I started playing.  I also didn’t quite appreciate how much of an improvement GW2 graphics were over GW1 but next to my previous post, you certainly can notice the difference.  Guild Wars just doesn’t have the layout that allows for the wide open vistas like Guild Wars 2.  I still enjoy the screen shots just the same.

Wading in the waters of Ascalon City, thinking about old times.

Trudging towards a Xunlai Chest in the Shiverpeaks to deposit a new Mini Pet.

Excited to get my Candysmith Marley! Next to a Gwen Doll, this was the one I wanted most that I don’t already have.

Some of my Mini Pet collection. I’m such a junkie.

My main character in the Hall of Monuments.

Still enough people playing to warrant more than one District. The Pre-Searing community has always interested me. I don’t think these guys will ever leave. They may play other games, but they stay logged in just to chat if nothing else.

Looking back at Ascalon City. It’s never looked so good. And (SPOILERS)…it never will again!

Pre-Searing Ascalon is still one of those places that relaxes me. You can’t not enjoy the countryside.

As the maps were designed, you never really get far reaching views of the horizon like you can in Guild Wars 2. This was surely due to graphical limitations and system requirements. Funny that I never even noticed until now.

“The Gate” at the Great Northern Wall. Requires another real player partner to open and allow you to run through.  Many players hire a “Gate Monkey” to perform this service.

The often screenshoted Ashford village.

Rolling hills and woods in Ascalon. Too bad it all had to end.

Pick a Direction and Go

One of my favorite things to do in Guild Wars 2 is just set out with absolutely no objective other than exploring.  Every map is gorgeous and there’s so many times where you’re walking along thinking, “This is so beauti… WHOA!  That’s amazing!”

Here’s some screenshots from tonight’s expedition!

Lion’s Arch skyline at night.

Outskirts of “LA”.

Full moon. A surreal night sky isn’t exactly realistic, but it is sure beautiful.

Just a loading screen. JUST a loading screen? Hell there’s times I wish the map hadn’t loaded yet because I was still appreciating the art!

Swamp in Kessex Hills.

Higher ground in Kessex.

Nothing particularly special. Just appreciating some of the nuances. The crazy number of buildings you can actually go in. And I thought the lighting looked cool on my character.

The last several pictures all have been literally just like 20 steps into Kessex Hills. There’s amazing stuff every inch!

And that’s where I called it a night. What else could be out there to explore?

Project Night: 1

What a rockin’ success!  I went into today not knowing for sure what project night was going to be.  Ultimately I envision some large time consuming project that I can whittle away at every Friday and maybe on weekends.  Something like building a MAME cabinet.  But I haven’t quite narrowed down the sweet spot of awesomeness and what we can afford right now.  So for tonight, I decided to do a little one night project.

I had an old 2×4 screwed to the wall a while ago that I used to hang the shovels on.  Well since then, I’ve out grown it a bit.  I’ve gotten tired of walking around tools or propping them up in a corner, so I figured a great project for tonight would be to do something about it!

It really doesn’t get more simple.  I took some more 2×4 and screwed them into the wall where the studs are.  Then just used regular nails for the “hooks” to hang the tools on.  It’s ghetto fabulous, but at least it’s organized.

Most of my projects take three times longer than I plan on them taking.  So I usually plan on them taking that long (yes, it’s a vicious cycle).  But tonight went about as quick as it should.  Well, almost.  I guess it took twice as long as it should because the battery for my circular saw kept dying.  It just doesn’t hold a charge anymore.  So it took me about 30 minutes to cut a 2×4.  So I guess it was about right.

I then started looking around and thinking, what else can I hang and get off the floor?  That’s when I saw the car ramps and noticed they had a nice little hole in them, perfect for hanging.  So I got some more spare fasteners that I had and made new perches for my car ramps and wheel chucks.  Got ’em off the floor and since they hang under the cabinet, they aren’t in the way.

It was a good night for sure.  I freed up some space and in one car garage like mine, space is a premium!

I look forward to the next project night.  I’m almost more excited to see what the next project will be that will make life even better!

Retro Game Night!

FFVI Cart on Shelf

I’m so excited.  I have officially dubbed Tuesdays as Retro Game Night in my house.  You’re probably thinking, I could play retro games every night around here if I wanted to.  And I COULD, but then I couldn’t get a lot of other things done, be it gaming, or actual, you know… responsibilities.

So I decided in order to be able to enjoy a few of the things I’ve really been wanting to do, and not just plow through them one at a time like it’s a job, I would take different nights of the week and dedicate them to different areas.  All part of this preparation and organization kick I’m on lately.

Monday – Guild Wars 2 Night: Officially started last night as Andrea and I were playing through with her new character. This game is incredibly fun, but will literally consume every minute of your life you’re willing to throw at it. Part of this new schedule is to keep me from spending ALL my time playing GW2. Haha.

Butt Kicked

Tuesday – Retro Game Night: A night to play anything not in HD. That’s (begrudgingly) how I’m defining “retro” gaming these days. Right now I’m focusing on Final Fantasy III. It’s tough because it’s been so long between play sessions I’m having trouble remembering what to do next. Hopefully playing on a more regular basis I can follow along a little better.

Wednesday – Guild Wars 2 Night: Because honestly this game deserves 2 nights a week. It’s the game I’m most interested in right now and the game I’m having the most fun with. These game night themes aren’t the same forever. But this is how it is for now.

Thursday – Automotive Night: This makes the list because generally I kinda like working on my old cars. And matter of factly, I NEED to work on these old things to keep them running. Basically there’s only one thing that matters when you’re driving old cars on a daily basis like we do. And that is fix things faster than things break. If you can do that, it will last forever.

Friday – Project Night: This one I’m most excited for. Mostly because I don’t know what my project is going to be yet. Ultimately I’d love to build a MAME Arcade Cabinet. But this night will rely on funds being available for big stuff. But right now I know there’s plenty of little projects around the place here that I need and want to get done. And this sets aside some time to do those.

So there you go.  This whole idea is all about making time for the things I want to do.  I’ve felt so busy since Luke was born.  But hopefully putting a little focus behind my recreation, I can not only actually get to them, but also enjoy them.  All to often I feel like I’m just plowing through something I’ve wanted to do, making it something I have to do because I don’t know when I’m going to get back to it.  This adds some structure.  And it helps me remember I will get back to things, so I don’t have to force my way through them.

We’ll see how long this lasts.  I get on these kind of kicks then eventually they fizzle out for me, but right now, I’m pretty excited about it.

Preperation and Organization

Good morning.  It’s been crazy around here lately.  But that’s the new normal I guess.  Spent the week doing all the normal work, but also had to spend a good amount of time working on computers for people on the side.  I am so lucky to have a job that pretty much lets me come and go.  I make it clear to all my computer customers that my radio job comes first.  So sometimes they have to wait a bit for me to get there.  But it’s nice that people on both sides are pretty understanding.

I ended up recording 25 shows this week at the radio station.  Usually I’m only doing my daily show for Great Bend and Junction City, then some weekend shows for North Platte.  But this week I did daily shows for North Platte and Hutch in addition to all that.  The extra money is nice though.  And since I’ve taken to actually prepping out some of the show, they go a lot quicker, as I’m not sitting there thinking… “Okay, so what am I going to talk about now?”

That has kinda been my theme lately.  It feels like life has been getting so busy and a little bit out of control, so I decided I wanted to take back some of that control.  And it’s just come down to preparation and organization.

Not only have I started preparing my show better, but Andrea and I are doing a better job of looking and seeing what expenses are coming down the road.  We’ve always done monthly budgets and set aside money for things like, food, gas, etc.  But if we took a trip to Wichita and a trip to Cimarron in the same month, it would really put us in a crunch at the end of the month.  So now, we plan those out weeks or even months in advance.  So going into the month, we know what we have to work with AND still be able to do what we want.  Money has definitely been far less of a stress since that happened.  Of course it helps that we didn’t end up having to spend $1,000 putting a new motor in the Jeep!

As far as organization, well, that’s just one thing at a time.  It’s physical organization, with stuff around the house.  It’s really hard to be organized if you don’t have a “place” for something.  So that’s when it ends up just laying around.  So I’ve been trying to come up with stuff in the garage for instance, that helps those little things have a place to go.  I’m trying to organize my time better.  It feels like I have so little of it that, it’s important not to waste any of it.  For instance yesterday I knew I had more work than I cold get done from 8 to 5, and rather than stay late and miss time with my family, I just went in at 4am.  I still got off relatively close to 5pm, and it was still a long day, but at least I was away from home while the family was sleeping instead of when they were awake.  Of course I ended up passing out on the floor of the computer room at 10:30pm.  Haha.

Anyway, for now.  Life seems a bit calmer.  It helps that we aren’t running around every weekend like we’ve been known to do.  So I’m taking advantage of this time.  Hopefully will be a fun and productive weekend.  The next thing I need to tackle is my gaming backlog.  How to get some of the games I really want to play, played, but still play some Guild Wars 2 which has had me reeled back in and hooked here the last couple weeks.  My best idea at this time is just pick different days of the week to play certian games.  Especially since a game like Guild Wars is a game that I will never truly “finish”.

Sorry I have neglected the blog… again.  I aim to work more writing back into my life as well.  It’s beneficial for me to get these thoughts out of my head, so I look forward to doing it more often.

Luke’s First 4th of July

Luke started the day off happy as can be.  He’s definitely a morning person and always wakes up in a good mood.  I wish I could say the same about myself!  So he and I are up eating waffles and pancakes for breakfast and I told him, “Today we get to shoot off fireworks!”

“Fireworks?  Fireworks, right there,” he grinned, and pointed to the family pack we’ve had propped up near the back door the past couple days.  With all the American Flags (he’s a big flag fan) and the colorful packaging, Luke has been very interested in them.  But until yesterday, he didn’t really know what a firework did.

Fireworks Backpack

The fireworks store I did remotes at this year, had a cool little kid sized backpack full of all the traditional kid themed fireworks.  Tanks, chickens, cars, etc.  He thought it was awesome.  Riiiight up to the point we started lighting fuses.  I knew he probably wouldn’t like the big fireworks, but I thought he’d love some of the little cars and trains and such.  Nope.  Not at all.  He was pretty much ready for it to be over as soon as it began.

At this point he has no idea what’s about to happen. This one whistled and scooted across the ground.

After the first tank went off, he’d really had enough.  I guess I forgot that the tanks pop out full fledged, loud, banging, firecrakers.  Too loud for little ears.

It’s no fun being scared. But it is kinda cute.

So we took a nice long break.  Luke got himself a well earned nap.  And when he got up, the sun was getting lower.  Other people in the neighborhood were starting to light their own fireworks.  Funnily enough, Luke started to say “Watch fireworks? Watch fireworks?”  So we figured we’d give it another shot. We pretty much just left the back patio door open, and he could come in and out as he felt comfortable.  And we used some ear muffs we’d gotten for him to use at the race track.

This worked out a lot better.  He still kept a cool weary distance from where we were lighting them down on the patio.  But at least no crying.  And once they were cooled off, Luke really had fun playing with them as toys.  So he at least finally got a little enjoyment out of the holiday.

We all stayed out until about 9:00pm having fun, then figured we would try to put Luke to bed.  It was going to be interesting on how he’d sleep, given that it sounded like a warzone all around us.  Remarkably, other than not paying much attention to his bedtime story, our bedtime routine was fairly normal, and he laid down in his bed without a peep, and we didn’t hear from him the rest of the night.  We kept the baby monitor on outside and Andrea and I decided to start pulling out some big stuff!

And with that, the night was over.  Wrapped up around 11:30pm.  Had a lot of fun.  Been 2 years since we got to have one around here.  And we had an ample supply to shoot off, fun with the family, it was just a really great day!

4th of July Eve

Fireworks

Alright!  4th of July.  Most of me can’t believe that it’s here already.  This year seems to have flown by like none other.  But I feel like we all say that every year, so whatever.  Last year we didn’t get to have a 4th of July.  It was so dry that the county literally banned all fireworks. I remember it was so quiet on the 4th… seemed even quieter than a normal night.

But not this year.  The party is ready to go.  No big plans for us.  We have a small assortment of fireworks we plan on shooting.  Lots of little kid stuff like chickens and tanks for Luke.  I really think he’s not going to enjoy it much.  At least at first.  We got out some Snap ‘N’ Pops today and he wasn’t too keen on them.  We got him to toss one and make it pop, but after that he’d had enough.  Maybe once he sees the little cars and things going he’ll get more into it.  We’ll be sure to take lots of pictures.