Category Archives: Hells Yeah!
I hereby dub February 7th as Vectrex Day hence forth on B.G. Willers.com! I wasn’t too sure if it would even show up today, because the the tracking information never updated once the package left Wichita. So in an effort to not get my hopes up, I just figured it would come in tomorrow. Then the mailman comes lugging a box up the stairs at the office around 10:00AM today and with “FRAGILE” written all over it, I knew it HAD to be the Vectrex.
Of course each and every passer by had to make the “Frajeelee” joke from A Christmas Story, and plenty of “What’s in the box?” questions. I had no problem sharing with my co-workers what hopefully sat inside that box, a hopefully functioning Vectrex. But I wanted to wait until I got home to open it up. I’ve been dying to make some videos, and this was the perfect opportunity. So with great restraint I let the box sit on my desk behind the monitors. It did help that I had a ton of work to do today which served as a useful distraction.
After work I really just wanted to go straight home and tear into the package, but I had to stop off and do some computer work. The good news was that by the time I got there, their computer was magically working just fine. Sometimes just threatening computers with my presence is enough to fix them I guess. So at long last I was heading home.
Got the package in the house, cleared off the poker table and set it down. I’d feel a little guilty though if I didn’t spend a little time with my family that I hadn’t seen all day first, so we all ate supper first. Afterwards, the three of us headed down to the basement. Luke was in a super good mood and all he wanted to do was play. I didn’t really want to record a video with his squawks and squeals in the background, so I figured I’d just hold off a little bit longer until he went to bed. So instead we watched Andrea hilariously play some Gran Tourismo 5. I say hilariously because it took her some time to get used to the controls, so there was a lot of time where all four wheels weren’t on the ground.
At long last, Luke was going to bed, and Andrea was on her PC, so I could fire up the camera. I have the video uploading now, but thanks to my awful service provider, it’s going to take 15 hours to upload. So you’ll just have to enjoy some still images for now.
For the most part it still works very well. If there are any flaws they are minor. The images are slightly off center, but I believe there are some Horiz & Vert adjustments you can make inside the case. There is a bit of a hum in the sound, but I think most Vectrexes had that when they were brand new. And I found some guides that you can use to help reduce the hum. In the video I shot, I thought there was a bit of a problem with some re-tracing going on in the middle of the screen, but turns out I just had the brightness turned up too high.
The case is a little scuffed but no cracks. And the controller could use a good reconditioning as the joystick is a bit loose, and some of the buttons take a little extra effort to push.
All in all, I’m very happy with the purchase. Now I just need to find a permanent place for it.
Man, I haven’t been this excited for anything I’ve bought on eBay since the Panasonic Q fiasco. A long sad story that ultimately ended with me getting screwed out of $400. Worst case scenario, I’ll get screwed out of a lot less on this deal.
Still holding my breath to see what actually shows up in the mail this week or next, but I still can’t help but be excited. I’ve said before that the Vectrex is my “holy grail” on my retro gaming wishlist. Mostly because they have been going for more than we spent on the Wii U recently. But for whatever reason, it seems like prices have gone down on them in the past few weeks. I found one that doesn’t look quite perfect, but appears to be fully functional and in pretty good shape for something that’s 30 years old now.
For those not up to speed on what the heck a Vectrex is, here’s a fantastic review from one of my favorite Youtube Channels: Classic Game Room.
My infatuation with the Vectrex is a bit perplexing, even to me. I never had one, nor known anyone that had one. Honestly I’ve never even seen one with my own eyes. So it’s not like it’s nostalgia that is drawing me in. It’s just so totally different than anything else. It’s like getting the keys to a time machine and being able to go back and experience these games in exactly the form they were 30 years ago. You can hook up an NES today, but to get the purest retro experience, you need to hook that NES up to a 25 year old cathode tube TV too. Well with the Vectrex, the video, the sound, the controller… it’s all still there preserved as one unit.
I’ve played some vector games before. I most vividly remember a Lunar Lander arcade cabinet that they had when I was at “Space Camp” at the Cosmosphere as a kid. But most of us are far more familiar with raster games. Like Mario or Tetris. Where the images are made of pixels. On the Vectrex, there are no pixels. Rather the images are drawn from vectors, or lines from point to point. At the time this gave designers the ability to do some cool things, like scaling or rotating images, which required more processing power than was generally available from console hardware at the time. One of the drawbacks was the lack of color, which actually lead to one of the Vectrex’s coolest features: the color overlays.
So yeah, I’m stoked. Hoping not to get my dreams crushed when I open the box… that hopefully eventually arrives.
We got our Wii U yesterday. I haven’t spent a TON of time with it yet, but so far it’s pretty sweet.
Luke and I got to Gamestop at about 11:00am, and it turns out they said we were the first person to come pick theirs up! At first I thought, “Well that’s lame, when I was younger, I would have been waiting at the door for the store to open!” But then he said that Wal-Mart got a ton of them and decided to do a midnite launch, so a bunch of Gamestop people cancelled their pre-order and went to get it at Wal-Mart at midnight. That made me feel better. There’s still some gaming and Nintendo fanaticism left in the world.
We decided to go with the “Deluxe” package. It comes with some extra stuff like stands, a charging dock, and the game Nintendoland. Along with (I think) double the internal storage space of the basic bundle. So for the extra $50 it’s certainly worth it over the life of the console. Which is pretty much forever I guess, seeing as how my original NES is still in working order. Nintendo makes some quality stuff!
I asked Andrea before she left for Wichita this weekend, “Do you want me to wait until you get home to open it?” She said “Yes.” And it’s a good thing I asked, or else I would have just tore into this bad boy! But as I’ve written before, and as lame as it sounds, opening the package on this kind of stuff is a big deal for a geek like me! And actually it kinda made me happy that I’m married to somebody who thinks its kinda a big deal too. I mean she did want me to wait, right?
When she got home Luke had just woke up, and it didn’t take long for us to pop it open. Everything was perfectly wrapped. I didn’t document any of it… if you want to see what’s inside, just go to Youtube and search for “Wii U unboxing” and pick from any of the 2300 results.
It didn’t take long for the contents to get strewn all over the basement. We had to move things around. Unhook old stuff, hook up new stuff.
The keyboards on the floor were Luke’s doing, haha.
We decided to move the Wii to make room for the Wii U. Since the U will play all the Wii games anyway. The Wii console will now be queued for installation into my current backburner project, the “retro” room. More on that in a later post though.
Luke was trying to be helpful. Or… just trying to figure out what all these new thingys do.
So we got it all set up, and after about a 90 minute wait for the System Update… we FINALLY got to play! Boy, I don’t know how excited kids on Christmas morning are going to be able to handle that brutal system update… It was about to drive me nuts! But alas, we are up and running! I’ll do some more gameplay impressions soon! For now, I gotta get to work!
We saw the new James Bond movie tonight. Andrea’s sister Michelle and her family came up here to see it in the theater on opening night. Our little theater here isn’t much, but it’s still kind of cool to go see a 007 film on opening night.
I’ve been avoiding a lot of info about this movie, and after seeing it, I’m glad I did. Holy crap it was amazing. I’m not going to even speak of certain scenes or anything. If you’re a Bond fan even a little bit, you have to see this one. There’s a lot of throwbacks to the old films, but they are nice and subtle for the most part.
What I will say in more broad terms is that these Daniel Craig Bond movies are really becoming my favorites. They are grittier, darker, and more emotional that what Bond used to be. They just feel meatier. Bond has always been an action packed romp though the world of sex and espionage, but these new ones just have their own panache. Okay, I’ll say it. I think Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond. Man… that was kind of hard to do.
The highlight of the night though, came after the film. I was walking out of the theater, and I heard a kid, probably 14 or so. And he said to somebody, “How many people can say they went to see 007 on opening night?”
I instantly smiled. Because that was exactly me when I was that age. I was such a Bond geek. I suppose I still am, I just don’t allow myself to indulge like I used to. But I got to thinking about bow BIG OF A DEAL the release of Tomorrow Never Dies was for me. Oh, I followed all the hype, and bought into all the product placement stuff, and just completely dove in. Seeing 007 on opening night for me WAS a big deal. So hearing that kid say that with the same enthusiasm I used to have, just took me back to that place instantly.
Watch Skyfall. And once it comes out on video, I’ll post all sorts of spoiler-rific stuff about it. Because I’m really excited to talk about it all. But I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone else. Going into this film not knowing what to expect is by far the best way to experience it.
So literally the day after we bought the Jeep. The Check Engine light came on. Took it to Autozone to read the code and it said “Catalytic Converter Efficiency Low”. Basically on these new fangled things, it has not one, but two oxygen sensors. One in front of the cat converter, and one behind it. It compares the two readings and if they are too close, it deduces that the cat isn’t doing its job and should be replaced.
And because I want to save the planet… we’re fixing it.
I test fitted everything together. We got all the parts from RockAuto.com, since the local Autozone & O’Reilly’s couldn’t get the front pipe. With a handy discount code that almost payed for the shipping, everything came out to just a couple bucks over $300. Not bad considering a exhaust shop was going to charge $400 to JUST replace the cat.
Getting the tailpipe out was definitely the hardest part. I tried cutting the pipe, but the exhaust pipe cutter I got on load from AutoZone was junk. So luckily the old muffler was so crusty, I just hammered on the pipe until it popped out of the muffler.
My little jack is small, but it has served me well for the cars we’ve always had. The Jeep is about 6 inches higher off the ground though. And fully extended my jack didn’t even reach the undercarriage! Forced to make do with what I had, I came up with the above scary setup. Luckily I didn’t have to actually be underneath the Jeep while it was jacked up like this. Because that’s some serious red-neck engineering right there. If I want to keep working on this thing, I’m going to have to get a bigger jack, that’s for sure.
I had to jack it up to get the tail pipe over the axle, and I had to unbolt the track bar and drop that down too. After that, it was pretty easy to pull the old crusty one out and slide the new one in. Then I promptly put the wheel back on and got the vehicle back on the ground and off of that crazy ass setup! I could just see a cinder block exploding and the whole thing crashing down.
I had to make one more cut in front of the cat and after that, everything came out with relative ease.
The whole job was prompted by the check engine light, but it was also a good excuse just to redo the whole exhaust because it had some definite leaks. The old muffler was just plain wore out. It had pinholes from corrosion all over it and as you can see above was super crusty.
I didn’t get any pics of the re-assembly process because once it all started going together, I got on a roll. Hardest part was getting everything lined up and tucked up as good as possible. I probably straightened that muffler 10 times before I tightened everything up and it’s still crooked… oh well. Nothing I can do about it now as it’s all locked in place. And it’s not like anyone will see it anyway. It is nice to see the fresh exhaust in there. Feels rewarding.
Seems like it did what it was supposed to. It’s definitely quieter. We cleared the check engine code with our new code scanner.
I have to say, it was super nice working on something that wasn’t rusted solid like our other old cars. The O2 sensors and even the bolts going into the exhaust manifold all came loose with relative ease! Is this why people don’t usually drive 30 year old cars? Haha.
Well I realized a while ago, I haven’t posted anything on here about our new vehicle. When the Toronado went down, after about a week it became obvious that I wasn’t going to get it running in the immediate future. So we couldn’t be with just one vehicle, that would leave Andrea and Luke stranded out here in the sticks any time I’m at work.
So we looked around, but I didn’t want to take the first thing that came along just because we were desperate. Even though we kinda were desperate. We test drove a crappy little Ford Escort for a day. It got great mileage, but it was TINY… two doors, and had a big dent in the side. Driving it felt a lot like driving Andrea’s old Mustang again, only less cool and in worse shape. I drove it around thinking… if we got this car I would hate driving it every day I have it. If I don’t feel anything for a car, then it starts to get neglected. And when it starts to get neglected, it starts falling apart. So I made up my mind that I wanted something I at least LIKED, even if it was less than ideal.
I had put the word out to everyone I knew to keep an eye peeled for a car that was in our price range. Andrea and I debated for a couple days about whether to take on a car payment or not. Even I, seriously considered it. But just the thought of it felt restrictive. You know how you feel when you get a raise at work, and you have a little extra breathing room? Well this felt the opposite of that. So we made up our mind to look for something we could buy outright if at all possible.
Andrea and I discussed a lot of vehicles while we were looking through classifieds. Most of the times the cars that Andrea liked were too expensive, and most of the cars that I liked were too… “grandpa”. Then on my way to go get my new cell phone, I drove by this Jeep out front of a little car dealership. I knew a Jeep was one of the things she would drive. And I didn’t mind the idea of a sport utility. Heck we are used to crappy gas mileage anyway. But I also knew she hated red. But it was a Jeep in our price range. I had that going for me. Nevertheless, I took it on a test drive and headed to Albert to see what she would say.
It drove right down the road. It was clean. It needed a list of little things done to it like latches and some touch ups here and there. But it seemed solid and reliable. I don’t know what Andrea thought when she first saw it, but when I saw it driving by I thought, “That would be perfect… and extraordinarily ordinary“. Haha.
It is by far the most average vehicle we’ve had in a long time, but I like it! It’s comfortable, it’s not hacked to bits. And while it’s not perfect by far, I can still take some pride in it.
I got it all detailed and took a bunch of pictures today out at Pawnee Rock. I think it looks pretty good for an old average commonplace Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Lots more pictures if you keep reading…..
After all the stress lately, this past weekend was exactly what was needed. Some family came up and we went out to the Great Bend Airfest. I was really worried that I would be dissapointed by what showed up, but it was completely awesome. There were several vintage planes out there from the 1940’s, mostly WWII trainers and such, but the really cool ones were the B-25, and the P-51, both beautiful planes.
I took a bunch of pictures, but here’s some of the highlights:
There’s a lot more pictures, so click through to see them, or check out my gallery to see A LOT more.
We just launched a new radio station at work on Wednesday. I’ve been working on it for quite a while, but haven’t been able to say anything. It’s pretty cool because they kinda just left it up to me to go make a radio station. Not that I’m really qualified to do such things, but I gave it a shot, and it’s at least a radio station by definition. Whether it’s a good radio station will remain to be seen.
I had a lot of freedom. Infact I designed the logo for the station myself. I hope I don’t come across as much of a bragger on here, but I am pretty proud of it. The logo, and the station itself. And for probably the second time ever, my artwork is on display somewhere in real life, not just the interwebs! I designed the the banner for the electronic billboard we’re leasing for the next few months.
I have a show on the station 3pm – 8pm Monday through Saturday, so feel free to tune in if you are around. We aren’t streaming yet, but we will be next month.