Category Archives: Milestones

Happy Vectrex Day!

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.

I bet you’re tired of looking at a cardboard box… so was I!

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.

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A Great Day For U

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.

There’s Luke with the gamepad dock…. in his mouth.

Here’s that queue I was talking about for the Retro Room. Years of fun on this table!

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!

The Newest Addition: 1996 Grand Cherokee

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.

Here’s the picture I snapped before we bought it.

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…..

Read the rest of this entry

It’s Finished

I don’t have pics of the completed project, but here’s a quick picture I snapped right after I picked it up from the upholstry shop.

I’ll get some better pictures as soon as I can.

You know I really like working on cars, but I can get frustrated.  Especially when I’m on a time crunch.  I don’t like having to have a car back together by the next day so it can be on the road.  Sadly we only drive projects around here!  Haha.

I think it turned out pretty good though.

Beta is Over

I wish I could stay up for the finalie, but that’s going to be at 1AM.  I don’t think I can handle that.

I’ve had a ton of fun this weekend.  This game is seriously as good as I would have hoped and more.  It’s fun to play, and the sheer scale of it, from size to the number of things there are to do, it’s just amazing.

It wasn’t without its flaws.  It was a little tough to play together with Biebs as we’d end up in different instances of the same world.  Something the development team says they’re working.

I really want to keep playing, but sleep, work and the impending end of the Beta weekend keep that from happening.  But there’s supposed to be one weekend per month until release… when I can then quit my job, ignore my family, and forego bathing to play this game without end.

At the very end, Andrea showed me how to enable hi-res screenshots.  I wish I had this the entire time!  The pictures it renders from the game are absolutely jaw dropping!  The amount of detail in this game is ridiculous!

I’m posting scaled down versions here, but CLICK HERE for an example of one of the screenshots in its full 5656×3308 glory!

Dead bears. It was us or them. They started it.

This is my kind of monastery. They brew ale!

Divinity's Reach in the distance. It IS as epic as it looks.

That same city, from the inside.

More Divinity's Reach...

And more Divinity's Reach. Seriously this place is gigantic, so from here on out it's all the same city in these screenshots.

This is the picture in full res above. I recommend making it your desktop wallpaper!

The upper city. The palace and senate are located on this level of the city. Along with this incredible garden.

What's the one thing this city doesn't have? A huge aquarium? Actually.. no. It already has one.

Dwayna Highroad. Everywhere you go the city feels alive.

Highroad looking across the city.

Crafting stations.

Durmand Priory. A guild that focuses on researching and preserving history.

Just another part of the city I found pleasant.

Undertaker's cart near a cemetery. I just can't get over the detail put into this game!

Another highroad. Look at the man to the left of my character for scale. The banners you see hanging wave majestically in the breeze. The screenshots only do half justice. In motion it's even more gorgeous.

Steps to the Senate.

Inside the Senate. I'm surprised they let me bring this big ass sword in.

Probably an attendance book of some kind.

Beautiful stained glass. In most games you are left to imagine what is inside a building like this.

In Guild Wars 2 you can go in that building and see for yourself! Behind each of those stained glass windows is a statue of one of the six gods. Beautiful artwork!

More inside the same temple. Notice the water pouring down the wall on the left. Again, you've got to see it in motion!

There are six highroads in Divinity's Reach, each named after one of the gods. At the end of each road is a beautiful sculpture like the ones seen in the temple above. This is a statue of Lyssa.

And that’s just one small part of the small part of the game I was able to play.

 

Half-Cast

I tried recording on my way to work this morning, but the battery died on me a couple minutes in.  So I just got the drive home today.

Retrieve Podcast Here

Podcast Topics:

Luke’s First Word
Skylanders
Car Work
Podcast Music

Can you guess what game the last song is from?  (Hint: Not Skylanders)

Skyward Sword Get!

I haven’t anticipated a game like this for quite some time.  In fact the last game I recall going to the store to get on launch day was The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.  That was 7 years ago.

Andrea had actually planned on getting me this for Christmas, and truth be told, I’m fine with this STILL being my only Christmas present.  I had been following the hype online and by most all accounts this is far and away the best game on Wii, and one of the best Zelda games of all time.  Now maybe that’s just one of those things they say to help boost sales and such… but either way, I was stoked to get it.

So we headed into the store this morning.  It was cold, about 25 degrees.  Gamestop opened at 11AM, but unlike the olden days I wasn’t there as they unlocked the doors.  Something about having Luke around and things just take a little longer.  So we had a few errands to run, and made Gamestop our last stop.

The preorder was under Andrea’s name, so I offered to stay in the car with Luke, while she went and picked up the game.  This is the part where it gets really geeky, so watch out.  I kinda wanted to go in there, just for the whole experience, you know.  To see them reach into those boxes that probably haven’t even been stocked yet, because, why bother putting them on the shelf? They’re pre-orders bound to be picked up by those who reserved them.  So the box is like some kind of cauldron that manifests this mythical game that so far has only exsisted through the stories and images you’ve read about, only to be willed into solid reality by months of patient waiting and $70.  That moment when the game finally becomes real.

For some reason… and probably all the wrong ones, I decided I didn’t want to be “that” guy.  So I volunteered to stay with Luke in the car.  Right before Andrea came out, another person, probably my age or a little younger came out with the game in hand.  He got in his car, but as I expected him to leave, he didn’t.  I couldn’t see what he was doing, but I knew.  He was opening the game and pouring over the contents of the limited edition box.  I actually found myself envious, and a bit regretful that I didn’t go in and get it myself.

But moments later, the woman I loved emerged with a big smile on her face holding our copy of the game.  It’s reasons like this I love her so much.  She hopped in the car, and handed me the game… finally there it was, in my hands.

As we drove home I turned the larger than usual game box in my hands.  Gleaning over the box art… game synopsis and multitudes of warnings in multitudes of languages.  The box had a very satisfying weight to it, as it contained not only a copy of the game, but a special 25th Anniversary Symphony CD, and a special gold Wiimote.

Of course I wanted to tear into the box right then and there… but I wanted to wait until we got home, so I could savor it and take the time to appreciate all the brand new items inside the box.

I brought in the house, Luke in my right hand, and the game in my left hand.  I found myself pondering as I walked up the stairs, which would be more appropriate to set down to free a hand to turn the door knob.  For some reason it felt like setting Luke down and holding on to the game to reach for the door implied some kind of messed up priorities… but as I got to the door, I thought… hell, setting the carrier down is just easier, so I did and opened the door.  Haha.

I set the game on the table, and as a good responsible father would do I tended to my son who was ready to get out of the car seat and kick it like babies  do.  Before I know it Andrea has the game and is peeling the sticker seal off the game.  PEELING IT!  (I know, who would do that?)  One of the things I regret is throwing away a bunch of old N64 boxes that I had held onto for a long time.  I’d had them long enough that I really thought… am I ever really going to want these things.  At the time, it seemed fine, but now.. I  kinda wish I had them back.  So keeping the boxes in good shape is something kinda important now.  Not in the grand scheme of things important… but in the way that it’s never going to be new again, so you might as well take care of it.  Because some day it will be 15 years from now, and I’ll look at that box and say… dang… that was a long time ago, but this is just how it looked the day I got it.

So one of my favorite things with getting stuff like this is pulling it all out of the box.  Kinda similar to getting the box itself at the store.  All of a sudden there it is… conjured into reality.  But Andrea was already beating me to it as I was being the good Dad taking care of Luke.  To be honest I was kinda miffed at the time.  But I dunno if she was genuinely excited about it in the same way I was (doubtful) or if she just likes opening shiny new things (more likely).  For whatever reason, she was the first to lay eyes on the beautiful controller, and the game and all its inserts and such.  Not a huge deal to NORMAL people… but this is me we’re talking about.

I didn’t automatically pop the game in right away though.  I for one was hungry… and didn’t want to get barely into the game only to have to stop because my stomach was growling.  So I took some time to relax and enjoy some of Andrea’s famous Mexican Dip and watch the Vikings get their butts stomped by the Raiders.  And THEN… I powered up the Wii… put New Super Mario Bros. Wii on the shelf, and put the game in.

First thing that happened was a System Update.  I’ve known they ship out system updates on the discs themselves from time to time, but more often than not by the time I get the game, I’ve already downloaded the update over the internet.  So this was the first time I’ve seen it happen from a disc.  Of course they warn you that if you’ve modified your Wii in anyway this system update could render your console useless, yada yada.  But man, compared to downloading the updates… this was fast!  Of course to my knowledge this didn’t change anything or add any new features that I could perceive.  Then again my main agenda was getting into the new Zelda game.

Starting it up the first thing I noticed was the music is FANTASTIC… already this could be my favorite video game sound track.  The second thing I noticed, unfortunately, is that the HDTV really highlights the low resolution of the Wii.  The game is still beautiful, no doubt,  but next to something like FFXIII in 1080p or even Guild Wars on the PC… Skyward Sword just seems rough around the edges.

Technical prowess aside, the game really is beautiful.  The colors and art are very painterly.  The music really is very beautiful.  But most of all the thing I like most are the characters.  They really got it right.  Moreso than any other game, right off the bat these people are interesting.  They’re not just yaking at you about how to use the controls… I mean they are… but not JUST that.  You can really feel a connection between Link and Zelda, and the characters around them  while not as impactful still feel like they’ve got they’re own personalities and their own impressions and feelings about each other.

I’m only a few hours into the game so far, but I really like what has taken place so far.  So far the direction has been pretty clear and your motivation to keep going is strong.  I haven’t gotten to any dungeons yet, but so far everything about the game has lived up to its promises!

Luke’s first real laugh!

He’s cooed and grinned alot.  But Andrea got a cell phone video of Luke’s first real laugh! The good part is about 30 seconds in!

Belly Button

They grow up so fast… *sniffle*.  Lucas’ umbilical cord remains fell off today.  Kinda nasty really.  Just like a big scab.  I guess some people save those things… not us.  Blech!

His circumcision ring fell off a few days ago, so he’s now pretty much how he’ll be the rest of his life.  Kinda crazy.

It’s all been going real well.  Well from my perspective at least.  Maybe Andrea would say differently since she gets to spend a little more time with him, but he’s just an awesome little boy.  Doesn’t cry a whole lot, and when he does, you can pretty much just bet that he’s hungry.  He’s been sleeping fairly well too.  Sometimes a little challenging to get him put to bed for the night, but once he’s there, he’ll sleep for a good 3 to 4 hours.  The other night he slept from 1:30am all the way to 8:00am.  That was pretty friggin awesome if you were wondering!  Haha.

So far, it’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t belong here.  Before we got pregnant you always wonder “if you’re ready”, well I guess it just doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t.  Since he’s been around it just feels like he was meant to be here all along.

Lucas James – “The Man”

Meet our first son… Lucas James!  I know it’s what all new parents say, but he’s really amazing.  He was born August 3rd, 2011 at exactly 5:00 pm.  It was a long hard day especially for Andrea as we got to the hospital at 4:00 am.  And she was dialated to 10cm by noon and pushing for 4 hours before the doctor finally said we’d better do a c-section.  (I think he was just ready to go home, haha)  Honestly, Andrea was about exhausted too.

You always hear people talk about how amazing it is to hear your child cry for the very first time.  You kind of prepare yourself for it, but it just doesn’t comprehend until it actually  happens.  We were in the operating room, so we didn’t get to see him emerge, but Andrea was alert, and I was totally holding  it together until a tear rolled down her face when Lucas wimpered for the first time.

Shortly after that they got him pretty much cleaned up and wrapped him up and handed him to me.  I’ve never been one who likes to hold babies, but man was I ever ready to hold him!  It was so odd looking at Andrea, and then looking at him.  I would look at Andrea and see “us” and I would look at Luke and think “him”.  He really didn’t feel like ours in that very first moment.  But when I held him and was able to hold him cheek to cheek with Andrea… it all was just perfect.

Andrea actually didn’t get a chance to hold him for about an hour or so.  They had to close her incision back up, and Luke and I went to the nursery for standard tests and measurements.  He laid there taking it all in for the first time.  Just staring up and crying everyonce in a while.  I was able to be in the nursery with him for a while and was always able to calm him down.

He weighed in at 8lbs 2oz.  21 inches long and a full head of hair.

He’s really amazing.  Hard to believe its real still.  Next step is to get out of the hospital.  Andrea has some extra recovery time due to the c-section, but the doctor said she should be able to get out of here by Saturday at noon.  I sure hope so.  I’ve had about enough hospital living.  New nurses every shift with new ways we “should” be doing things.  Its wears on the patience when the 4th different person shows up and lays down a new law.

Thanks for all the prayers and support.  We definitely couldn’t have done it without the folks that were here, and all the people who have helped us and provided for us everything we could possibly need and more.  We are blessed to have the most amazing family and friends we could ask for!

Oh yeah, here’s a link to a photo album with a bunch of pictures.  Look for this album to grow and grow along with baby Lucas!