Monthly Archives: February 2014

Level 80

I finally did it!  It only took about 2 years, but I’ve finally reached the maximum level in Guild Wars 2.  This doesn’t mean I’ve beat the game, just that I’ve maxed out my character’s growth and power.  I spent about 35 gold last night decking him out with all the level 80 gear.  It’s worth it though because I’ll probably be using this stuff for quite a while.

I played a bit while Mom was down over the weekend, then Sunday I made my final push to get from level 78 to 80.  Didn’t take that long really.  You earn so much more XP by doing events and goal oriented things than you do just killing stuff.  But it’s hard for me to pull myself away from just exploring.

So now, I’m ready to move on and finish the rest of my personal story and “beat” the game.  Though there’s a ton more content out there past the main storyline.  I’m even toying with creating a new character afterwards… We’ll be talking about the Summer Olympics by the time they reach Level 80 for sure.

So here’s a few more screens from this beautiful game taken over the last couple days.

Old Ghosts

cpakLast night I sat down and busted out some Mario Kart 64.  It’s been a few weeks since I’ve played, and a long time since I dove into time trials.  I looked back at my twitter and it’s been 1,086 days since I put down a time that was good enough to rank in the top five on any tracks on my cart.  So that probably means it’s been at least a decade since I’ve had a time good enough to place first on any of those tracks.

For whatever reason I’d been thinking about this game lately.  All the hours I’d spent perfecting those tracks and to some extent if those were skills that were lost forever, or if they were still inside me, buried beneath all the work stress, car repairs, bills, and savings.  Of course there’s been a lot of good additions to my life too since then like my family.  As nerdy as it sounds, my Mario Kart times were a very special thing to me in my school years.  By both the good and the bad, since the late 90’s Mario Kart 64 is something that’s been steadily been pushed aside by other things that were of greater significance.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve changed so much since then.  With the pressure of being pulled in so many directions, I feel like it’s wore me down making me more tired, irritable and cynical than ever.  Changes I’m not really proud of.  So from time to time I wonder if that free spirit is still at the center of the layers of serious crap that have been rolled and caked on top since then.  I guess I felt like if I could still compete with my old self at something I was best at back then, then maybe I wasn’t as different a person as I felt after all.

Part of the reason it’s been 1,086 days since my last “blistering” time is because I’m always afraid that some day I’m going to sit down and not be able to do it anymore.  That the “old” me really will be nothing more than just a memory.  So with some mild trepidation, I picked a track I knew I’d spent a considerable amount of time on.  Kalamari Desert.  To put into perspective just HOW much time I’d spent racing this track, there is just a 0.42 second difference between 1st place and 5th place.  That’s less time than it takes a fluorescent light bulb to turn on.  This is exactly the reason I’ve been reluctant to race tracks like this because unless I really am as good as I used to be, there’s no chance I’ll ever have of ranking in the top 5.

My first attempt.

My first run through was pretty far off the mark.  Relatively at least.  When you start getting picky, finding 2 seconds to shave off somewhere can get pretty tricky.  But I did notice that my third lap was in the ballpark of my best lap ever.  So I felt like getting on the board was achievable, especially since I was literally picking this up cold after ages.

My second attempt.

After just my second run, I was really feeling good.  My third lap was slower, but I’d picked up big time on laps one and two.  Heck, over all I was just a half a second off  5th place and I knew I’d made some mistakes during the run.  If I could just correct those, I could be on the board easily.  Heck, maybe three runs would be all it would take and my skills had virtually never left me.  Hell, maybe a new personal best was in store for me, all on just my 3rd run!

Nope.

What followed in the 4th, 5th… 12th runs were waves of frustration.  As I’d try to get more aggressive on each lap to cut into that time, I’d push just a little too far and make a mistake.   I’d only finish all three laps maybe one out of every 5 attempts or so.  But you know what, I wasn’t too bummed by it, because this was exactly how I used to play.  In fact these exact scenarios used to infuriate the hell out of me.  (Maybe I wasn’t so free and cheery as I’d like to think I used to be).  Actually… I think Mario Kart Time Trials is the only game that literally made me throw controllers.  I would start, restart, start, race, restart, start race finish… restart… all until my thumb was literally raw.  So to think I just cranked out these times at will is far from reality.

Then finally after about an hour of racing this track.  This one track.  I finally did it.

Probably my 25th attempt counting restarts.

I’d never been more happy to get 4th place.  Only 0.16 seconds away from 1st place.  I did try a couple more runs to see if I could crank out a 1st place.  But honestly, after two runs and it not happening, I didn’t even want to keep going.  As lame as this is, part of me didn’t want fell my old 1st place time because of all the work past me had put in to get it.  WTF is wrong with my brain?  The motivation this whole time was to prove that I’m still the same Matt I’ve always been, but when I have a chance to even be better I draw a line.  I’ve gotta be nuts.

So someday I’ll beat that time.  Maybe it will take another 1,000 days, but I hope not.  I was thinking today about playing and caught myself saying I didn’t need to be playing it two days in a row because of all the other things I needed and wanted to do.  Which is exactly what I’ve been telling myself for years that brought about this blog post today.  So you know what.  To hell with that mindset.  If I have the time, and I want to play Mario Kart 64… or ANY other game for that matter.  I’m just going to do it.  Otherwise I end up convincing myself why I shouldn’t and end up doing something I enjoy less. I’m going to quit over thinking all this crap (see previous 1,000 words) and just have some damn fun.  Time to go beat some old ghosts… in Mario Kart that is.

The Thaw

Generally I like winter.  The snow is always pretty, even if it makes a mess of things.  The cold isn’t too bad as long as you dress for it.  I think if anything it’s the short days that get me the most now.  The snow is all melting and parts of the yard are seeing sunshine that haven’t seen it in weeks.  Really feels like the calendar is starting to turn now.  Of course I’m sure there’s going to be another cold snap this week that will put us right back where we were.

I was out shoveling the drive last week when the snow came through.  It was dark because it was after Luke went to bed.  But I had my russian hat on, my snow boots, and several layers.  But you know what?  Despite it being 4 above zero and 15mph wind, it didn’t effect me too much.  I felt like I was wearing a space suit, haha.  I enjoy shoveling snow on some level because it’s peaceful, and it’s a time where you’re very unlikely to be disturbed.  Not many people will bug you for fear of becoming part of the snow shoveling team.  So it’s somewhat therapeutic for me.

As spring approaches, I’m reminded I’m going to have to do something about my lawn mower.  I’ve nursed that thing along the last year about as well as I can.  The spark plug wire is toast and is held on by wire.  The deck is rusted and the handle is barely attached after numerous repairs, and despite cleaning out the carb several times, I just can’t get it running smoothly.  A friend at work is selling a self propelled mower for $100.  That’s a little more than I want to pay for a used mower, but it is a nice one… that will probably be the route I go.  My yard just isn’t really big enough to “need” a rider, and I enjoy the exercise I get from mowing.  Kinda like shoveling snow I guess.

I haven’t done much gaming lately.  For some reason I’ve been feeling super nostalgic lately so I’ve spent an unusual amount of time on Google Maps going through the street view of old places I haven’t thought about in ages.  Thought about typing some of those memories out here on the blog, but for some reason this just didn’t really feel like the right place for those.  I dunno maybe.

I’m slowly working on my “project” still tweaking it a bit to get it to do everything I want.  It may yet be a while before I’m ready to show it off.

Still got half the day left on Sunday here.  Got the neighbor girl’s 5th Birthday part to go to, but other than that, I’m relatively free.  I don’t have any thing else planned, and no plans to plan anything.

Roller Rinks

roller-skating-memoriesThe dark and musty atmosphere, mirror balls, M.C. Hammer, arcade games, limbo, birthday parties and the thrill of skating as fast as you dare!  Almost everything you can use to describe the skating rink is something I miss from the world today.  Yes, including M.C. Hammer.

I don’t recall my first trip to the skating rink, or really any specific memories at all.  I very much remember the atmosphere though.  Really the only skating rink I’ve ever been to was the Dodge City Skating Rink.  It’s nothing more than a heating and cooling business now, but for me a memorable landmark in my childhood.

Back when I was in grade school, our school would have Skating Parties every so often.  Twice a year maybe.  There would be teachers and chaperones there, and us kids could skate, hang out, or play on the video games if we brought our own quarters.  I don’t really remember socializing with anyone in particular while at the skating parties.  I knew my classmates, but for the most part, I was content just to be there, to be able to roll around the floor, listen to the music and be mesmerized by the lights.  If there was a clic that hung with at these things, I sure don’t remember it.

skates 2

The building itself, I remember being dark, and having a certian “old” smell to it.  I can’t remember for sure, but I want to say as you walked in, to the left was a counter where you’d pay.  Off to the right was the area where you got your rental skates.  I never had my own pair of roller skates, but man how I dreamed about it.  What I ended up getting was some gnarled leather things that laced all the way up your ankles.  Despite their lack of attractiveness, they worked pretty well.  I don’t ever remember getting skates with stuck wheels or anything like that.  But some of the kids had “nice” skates.  The ones that looked like actual sneakers that you would actually want to wear.  Those were the cool kids.

cool skates

If you walked further straight into the door, past the front desk, there were arcade games lining the left wall.  Some real classic stuff like Ms Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and maybe Off-Road.  I’m sure there was a pinball machine or two.  To the right was an area divided off from the rest of the floor.  It had tables and a concession stand. There you could get cotton candy made fresh there, candy, pretzels and maybe some pizzas from a pizza oven.  It was almost guaranteed that at all times, somobody was celebrating their birthday and there would be balloons, party favors and kid’s coats and belongings covering one or two of the tables.  They were mostly round fiberglass tables with their own attached benches.

Many a birthday party were celebrated around tables like this.

Many a birthday party were celebrated around tables like this.

Further past the arcade machines and concession area was the rink.  As you walked in you’d be to the left of the rink where there were numerous cubbies for your shoes and belongings, a long bench for lacing up your skates, and a wall separating  you from the actual skating area.  Things like this are hard for me to judge now.  I want to say the wall was chest high, but seeing as how I would have been 4 feet tall, it’s hard to say.  Along the wall were two or three entrances onto the floor.

I don’t really remember learning to skate.  Who taught me, the part where I fall a lot.  I really don’t know.  For the most part I just remember going pretty slow most of the time.  As I went more often, I got to the point where I could cross my feet across each other going around the turns.  I felt pretty bad ass at the time.  It was so much fun rolling around, watching the lights of the mirror ball move across the ground as I turned along with them, you’d get the sensation of standing still, even though you were moving.  The strobe lights made things seem like they were moving in slow motion, and there was always some sweet 90’s jams pumping out of the speakers.

To break up the action and mix it up, they would do different games or events at regular intervals.  There was limbo, which I was phenomenally terrible at.  I never got past the first pass or two.  I remember one girl I liked always was one of the last people left.  She could do the splits and get way down low.  It seemed like you couldn’t even get a dollar bill between the pole and the floor, but I’m sure it was hardly as extreme as that.  And of course I never talked to her about it, because that would mean I’d have to talk to a GIRL!

Speaking of girls, I was always super jealous of the guys that could skate backwards, because when the dance song came on, the guys would skate with the girls, only one person would have to skate backwards.  I was convinced until at least sixth grade that the reason I didn’t have a girlfriend was because I couldn’t skate backwards.

Spin the bottle was another game they did at the Dodge Skating Rink.  It was far more innocent than the name might make you believe.  All the kids would sit in a circle and they would spin a bottle in the middle.  If it pointed at you, you got a neat little prize like a frisbee or a yo-yo. The games weren’t really anything specially, but it kept you from going around in circles endlessly and were always a neat little thing that you kinda looked forward to.

skating

It’s weird.  This is a place I can never go back to.  There’s a roller rink here in Great Bend that I really want to visit, but I know it won’t be the same.  And I seriously doubt they’ll be blaring any Vanilla Ice.  I miss those times.  Going to the skating rink was more than just the fun of skating.  It usually meant there was something special going on, a school party or a birthday party.  They were all good days.

Just Another Snowy Day

Well despite the weather, today was pretty routine.  Up early to record School Closings from my basement with a hot cup of coffee.  Then off to work.  I had to leave a bit early because of the weather, but the roads weren’t too terrible.  There weren’t a lot of people out, so I didn’t feel bad driving 45 mph the whole way.

On the way home, the the weather was certainly worse.  The wind picked up to about 20 mph and started blowing all the snow around.  I got to put the 4×4 to the Jeep to good use.  I was glad it worked well because we’d been having issues with it recently.  But I changed out the fluid and adjusted the shifter linkage and it seems to work great now!  It was about the smoothest repair I’ve had; on that Jeep for sure at least.

Back at it tomorrow.  I’ll probably take the Jeep again, though the weather is supposed to be much more mild.  The hi-ways are probably sure to be clear, but I bet it’s still a mess in town.

For now, it’s off to bed!

Super Bowless

It sounds like I didn’t miss much of a game tonight.  We didn’t have any big plans to go to anyone’s party so we just stayed home and it was pretty much just another Sunday around here.  First time in many years though we didn’t do at least a little something special.  Sometimes we at least get some snacky stuff and make our own little Super Bowl Party.  Honestly quiet days are so far between anymore that I didn’t really want to occupy most of it with a game featuring two teams I didn’t really care about.  Today pretty much reflected my interest in the whole NFL season this year.  The Vikings started sucking pretty much immediately, so I didn’t have much to get excited about.

I spent a good part of the day playing with Luke and that was fun.  I love the weekends and being able to get up and eat breakfast with him while he watches his cartoons.  This morning we watched “Mater’s Tall Tales”, a bunch of little shorts featuring the characters from Cars. It’s fascinating watching him watch these shows.  He’ll be watching and see something funny, then just look at me and smile, as if to say, “You know that was funny.”

Later we went down stairs and built up a new fort.  It’s way better than our old one, because this one has a window!  We both had fun with it.  He was getting sleepy and he absolutely despises going down for naps, so I thought maybe he’d lay down and take a nap IN his fort.  After all, he even told me, “I’m sleepy.”  So we got his pillow, blankest and a couple of his stuffed animals and he laid down in there.  But the fun of the fort and all the toys nearby was too much to shut his little brain down and he couldn’t lay still… so it was reluctantly off to his bed.

On and off throughout the day I also started working on a new project.  It’s in the very early stages, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  Definitely not ready to show it yet but I think I’ve got a good foundation for something to build on, and it’s something I can work on here and there.

So off to bed.  It’s a (theoretically) normal week next week.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Getting a whole night’s worth of sleep and all that.  We’ll see though.  It never ends up that way.  C’est la vie.

Ahhh

What an exhausting week.  Work pretty much sucked the life out of me, but you know what?  I got to sleep until 8am today and it was magnificent.

We got a little bit of snow last night.  Only a couple inches, but enough for me to take it pretty slow coming home.  As I was putting along, I came across a car that had slid into the ditch.  The person following behind me and I both stopped to make sure nobody was hurt.  There was only one guy and he said he was fine.  He was a foreign guy and had a pretty good accent that sounded African of some sort.  He wanted us to help him push his car out of the ditch.  I told him that wasn’t going to happen.  There was no way we could push that car up an embankment like he slid down.  And I wasn’t about to get trapped under a stranger’s car.  I called 911 and they dispatched somebody.  I told him it was best to wait in his car until they got here.  As I was walking away, he climbed back into his car and hopelessly continued to try to drive out of the ditch.  The car wasn’t there this morning when I headed back to work, so apparently he made it out somehow.

I had a lot of fun playing some Guild Wars 2 with Andrea and Mom tonight.  Been a couple weeks since I’ve actually PLAYED.  I log in from time to time and do some trading post stuff which is fun, but it’s nice to have a group of people to run with.  We spent the entire night in just one map, Snowden Drifts, I think it was called.  There is just so much darn stuff to do in that game.

I have been missing playing Guild Wars though.  The original.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because the Canthan New Year holiday just started.  Or maybe it was because I was listening to the soundtrack at work.  But it was (and still is) such a great game.  The crowd is starting to thin out considerably there though.  But there’s still a small collective in all the old hubs.  Just sad to think that that game will never be the same bustling place is once was with 70+ districts in Lion’s Arch during the holidays.

Glad the weekend is here.  Looking forward to a more normal week next week.