Grandma’s funeral

Katie and I slept in a little later today than we probably expected. I told her last night that we had to be awake by 11am and she acted as though sleeping in till 11am was impossible. We woke up around 10am. She made biscuits and gravy and tofu scramble for breakfast and it was pretty awesome. Lauri came over around 12 and we got out the door on our way to Carrolton at 12:30. The visitation started at 1pm.

We got to the funeral home around 1:30pm. Pretty much everyone was there already. Everyone looked so different but I hadn’t seen most of them in over 7 years. I barely recognized my dad and I’d seen him in the last 5 years. I recognized Beth because we’re friends on Facebook. She introduced us to her fiancee Alan. I recognized Gloria and Aunt Diane and Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bill. They pretty much never change. I did not recognize Valerie or her husband Chris and I never knew her children, whose names I can’t remember. I hadn’t seen Louie since I was a little kid. It was all pretty insane.

The ceremony itself was relatively short, not that I’ve been to a lot of funerals. The pastor kind of droned on about Jesus and grandma’s mansion, but the parts Aunt Sharon and Gloria said were nice. At the end Aunt Sharon asked us to take either one of the porcelein birds or a necklace that had belonged to grandma as a keepsake. I got a porcelein owl. Lauri got a necklace with a lens on it.

Afterward most of the family was meeting up at a restaurant 20 minutes away. On the way to the funeral Lauri and I discussed that we probably wouldn’t go to it but after the ceremony we decided that we would. So we sat there and talked and talked and talked. It was relatively pleasant. We left around 6pm because Lauri still had to drive back home to Bloomington and we were an hour and a half away from Springfield.

When we got back to Springfield we went straight over to Jim and Andria’s for the superbowl party that we’d missed half of. Commercials were played, The Black Eyed Peas reminded me why I never listen to The Black Eyed Peas, a ball was moved around, and some team won. Then we watched some Puppy Bowl and some Pawn Stars. Nick brought a video camera and a shirt that played air guitar.

Tomorrow I get to drive back to Carbondale and look forward to another exciting week of class!

Dogs as percussion instruments

Relaxing Saturday was mostly that. I got about 10 hours of sleep and I don’t think I even got dressed until noon. I watched Katie play some Dead Rising 2. Looks about as good as the first Dead Rising! Which I hated.

We left the house initially to go to Gamexchange so I could dig around in their PS2 and Xbox games. We got out to west end and it was busy as well. I guess everyone being cooped up all week from the snow finally had to go somewhere. Gamexchange was closed! Forever! It was so disappointing.

So we went to the Gamestop nearby. Katie found Singstar 80’s and didn’t get it. We walked down to Disc Replay. Neither of us had been in there before. They had a lot of games and the prices were competitive but the selection was mostly super common stuff or crap. Then we walked to TJ Maxx, which was packed full of people.

I don’t do well with a lot of people, especially in cramped quarters with everyone moving around.

Katie drags me around the store for a while then we leave and walk back to the car and then we go to Barnes & Noble and Petsmart before I fucking lose it and we have to go home.

I told Katie yesterday that I was going to dig around in the crawlspace and look at my games, so that’s what I did this afternoon. It took a lot of digging but I found them! I pulled out my Silent Hills and some other PS2 games. I pulled out 50 Cent: Bulletproof but it’s apparently not backwards compatible with the 360 and I don’t quite know where my xbox is.

Tonight we ate at Thailand Cuisine then we walked around the mall for a little while. Nearly everyone else in the mall was a pre-teen kid or teenage parents. It was kind of bizarre. I saw a couple of little girls there pushing strollers with dolls in them. IN THE MALL.

Then we went to Chris’s house and hung out with him. They punished me by watching Big Bang Theory, which is still awful.

It’s only 11:30 and I’m already tired. Totally not looking forward to tomorrow! At all!

Put a bird on it

I woke up this morning and couldn’t wait to get back to bed. I went to my classes but by the time I got to the last one, I could hardly believe it was only noon. I felt as though I’d been on campus all day.

And I couldn’t fathom driving three hours to Springfield on four hours of sleep and five hours of classes so I took a nap. A long nap. When I woke up, it was 5pm and Katie had called me three times (with my phone on silent) and IMed me to ask me if I was on my way yet. Whoops.

On the way up to Springfield I listened to Giant Bomb’s game of the year deliberations. I listened to the last three weeks of Bombcasts on the way to Clarksville and back yesterday and it made me realize that I have some really specific taste in video game podcasts. I can’t just listen to some dudes talking about games. I can’t even just listen to any game journalists. I’ve tried to listen to other podcasts like 1UP Yours and some crap on Destructoid and Weekend Confirmed on Shacknews and they just bore me to death.

When I listen to the Idle Thumbs podcasts (old and newer) and the Bombcast, I get intelligent discussion and humor. The guys riff off of each other just perfectly. And sometimes they go off topic but it’s never not interesting. Like they never have discussions about football or other shit I for realz don’t care about. They’re just both solid podcasts.

I got into Springfield about 10 minutes before 9pm. Katie was tired from boredom and there was no soda in the house that wasn’t diet so we went to Meijer. Meijer has gotten scary over the years. We used to go to Meijer in the middle of the night all the time and we’d be the scariest people in there. As soon as we got in the doors tonight we were stared down by a family of greasy meth addicts. And we’ve noticed before that Meijer is just full of creepy people lately.

And now we’re sitting around. Gozer keeps alternating between sitting in my lap and sitting in Katie’s lap. He’s a good cat, even if he does puke on everything.

Old roads

Today I drove to Clarksville to get another 2nd class aviation medical exam. SIUC requires pilots to have a 2nd class medical to fly at all, despite the fact that I’m getting out of the aviation program and just trying to wrap up the class I started last semester, and the choice between paying $65 for the medical exam or failing the class seemed like a no-brainer.

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the directions from Google Maps and I ended up on 57 when I want to be 24 again, which put me a good 45 minutes behind. Thankfully I left early enough that I still got the office 10 minutes before my appointment, and that was with two pee breaks! Last time I did this exam I didn’t know beforehand that I’d have to pee in a cup so when I did, I was kind of forcing out what was just kind of hanging around in bladder and apparently that results in the test showing I have too much protein in my pee. This time I came prepared, and I REALLY had to pee.

On the way back to Carbondale I stopped at the comic shop to get Katie’s comics. I spent more on comics than I did on a 2nd class medical exam.

It’s strange driving around Clarksville. I hate the layout of the town. There are three or four big roads that converge downtown that are all several miles apart and separated by either residential areas or absolutely nothing. The town is really spread out and it’s impossible to get anywhere without getting on one of these huge roads that are always clogged full of people.

I love the streets of Springfield. They’re busted and go everywhere. There are 20 ways to get anywhere. Everything is 15 minutes away. Some of my favorite memories are associated with roads in Springfield. Like driving back from The Asylum late at night with Alkaline Trio’s “Keep ‘Em Coming” on the stereo down an empty MacArthur Boulevard with snowfall making the street lights glow orange.

I also stopped at the Gamestop on the way back to the highway to poke around. I sometimes forget how much I enjoy rooting around in bins of used games for that one piece of solid gold. I didn’t find any solid gold this time around but I did find Marc Ecko’s Getting Up for PS2 for $3. I would’ve preferred to get it for xbox but I don’t even know if it’s backwards compatible with the 360.

As I was doing homework tonight I took a bite into a piece of floormat pizza. Something crunched. I spit out the bite and licked all my teeth and couldn’t feel anything broken. I checked in the mirror and nothing looked broken. It must have been a bit of dirt on the slice.

Tonight I get to pack up for the weekend because I’m leaving for Springfield as soon as my last class gets out tomorrow. I simply cannot wait to stay up too late tonight, wake up at 7am tomorrow, sit in classes until 1pm, then drive 3 hours to Springfield. Can’t wait.

Fuck today

On my way to campus, I was turning a corner on my bike when my U lock slipped off of its carrier into a relatively busy street. There was no one immediately behind me so I pulled a U turn in the lane, and my bike nearly slid out from under me. Because it rained all day yesterday and froze overnight. I managed to grab my U lock and drag my bike onto the curb before anyone hit me. I should have just turned around and went back to bed.

On my way to my fourth class, I was riding up to the Lawson bike racks when I found that paved area they’re on didn’t get salted and was a solid sheet of ice. I was going pretty slow when the bike shot out from under me. Most of the fall went into my knee, and some on my shoulder. My knee only hurts when I walk around but my shoulder’s been hurting off and on since.

Since I’m sad and hurt and pitiful, I didn’t want to make anything for dinner so I ordered a pizza. I went and picked up my pizza and as I was driving it home, I hear it slide off the seat. Of course it slid off the seat, I’m a brain surgeon and put it on top of a bag and not in one of the two empty seats. At a stop sign I turn around to pick the box off the floor and half of the pizza slides out. I can’t get the rest of it back into the box because it’s directly behind me and turning 180 degrees seated doesn’t feel good, so I pull over into a church parking lot to clean it up. Luckily it landed crust down so it’s still salvageable because I’m not beyond eating floormat pizza.

Fuck today.

Vidya games

I’m not really using this thing for anything and I can’t explain why. I’ve been playing a lot of games though, and no one on Facebook cares about that and Twitter isn’t exactly the platform for verbose opinions so here’s what I’ve been playing.

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30. It’s an older World War 2 FPS by Gearbox, who made Borderlands and are working on Duke Nukem Forever. I got it as part of pack of all 3 games in the series and this is the first one. I finished it this weekend and it was pretty good but it was short (just shy of 7 hours total) and a lot of my time was spent re-playing some particularly frustrating sections. In the game you’re given some limited control of up to two squads. You’re supposed to use one squad to pin down the Nazis and then flank them with the other.

The problem is that the friendly AI isn’t exactly brilliant and often stands around to be shot to pieces. I put a lot of effort early on to ensure that everyone in my squads survived until I determined that whether or not they live didn’t affect the next mission. Squad members who died in the previous mission are miraculously resurrected in the next. The only deaths that seemed to stick were scripted. But as far as World War 2 shooters go, it was pretty fun.

I immediately wanted to get started on the sequel but the games are not numbered and I ended up downloading the third game rather than the second. Once that was sorted I out I was disappointed to find that the second, Earned in Blood, is almost exactly the same as Road to Hill 30. The same type of gameplay, the same graphics, even the same characters. I’m really not in the mood to play the same game over again, so I’ve moved on.

I also played through and beat Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness – Episode 1. That’s a mouthful! Anyway, it was a fun, short RPG. The battle system has been pretty accurately compared to Chrono Trigger, except Precipice feels a lot faster, which made it appear rather difficult from the start. Once I got the timing of it down, the game got considerably easier. I got through it in just over 5 hours, and I’ve downloaded the next episode but, like Brothers in Arms, I know it’s the exact same type of game so I’m going to give it a little time.

So I decided it was time to get back into Borderlands to play through Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution. Surprise, it’s more Borderlands! But I love Borderlands, and this is more quests and new areas and enemies that have been Claptrap-ified. I just started this last night, so I’m still working on it.

Today I started Hydrophobia on XBLA. It’s a 3rd person action game that involves a lot of (surprise!) water. It not-to-recently received a huge update that changed a lot of the game since it was released, to include improved controls. I have to say, after spending a good couple hours with it, if these controls are improved, I’d hate to have seen them before. It’s totally playable but the movement feels really loose. When I’m trying to pick up small collectibles, I find myself having to slide around back and forth because I can’t get the character in the right position to pick it up. But I love a good 3rd person action game and this one is pretty interesting so I’ll stick with it.

And Dead Rising. This fucking game. Katie’s playing Dead Rising 2 and we get on private chat through xbox live while she’s playing it and all her talk about it made me put the first game back in. I haven’t touched it in three years. Tonight I was reminded why I haven’t touched in three years. This game is so goddamned frustrating. Every weapon is made out of stiff cardboard, aiming is AWFUL, and the save structure is conducive only to frustration. IT’S NOT FUN. Fuck this game.

I told myself last Friday that I was going to finish Silent Hill: Shattered Memories but I guess I got sidetracked. That’s a spooky fucking game. Jesus. I’ll get through it. Eventually.

I’ve also spent a little bit of time playing Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, Monday Night Combat, and Neverwinter Nights 2: Platinum. They’re all pretty enjoyable in their own way but I’ll come back to them later. And I played some of The Polynomial, which is ultra-bizarro but beautiful.

Video games.

Reach vs. ODST

SPOILER WARNING: The plot of ODST and some of Reach will be discussed in this post!

When ODST was released, I was totally hyped. It was a Halo game with a protagonist that did not have the gravitas or plot strings of Master Chief. No shields, no dual wield, a weaker melee, shorter jump, a darker setting, and more tactical options. The protagonist would explore the city of New Mombasa after the Covenant have wrecked it and would determine the details of his squads demise by examining the wreckage they’d left behind.

This is a premise that has promise that the game did not exactly fulfill. It is true that there’s no shields, but there’s stamina, which is like shields. No dual wield, two new weapons which were kind of useful. The silenced submachine gun wasn’t all that useful but the silenced pistol was. But the melee attack was still really lethal, and no one would ever notice if someone compared the jumping and running speeds of the Rookie and Master Chief unless they were demonstrated side by side. But to me, the most disappointing aspect of ODST was the story: everyone gets out alive! A little banged up, a little dirtier but breathing! These were humans, not super-soldiers, dropped from low orbit into a wrecked, Covenant occupied city, separated from each other, facing the same kind of enemies and odds as Master Chief and getting out of it alive.

Throughout all of the Halo series up to ODST, Master Chief fights alongside regular marines and ODST troopers whom the Covenant cut through like wet paper bags. Master Chief survives and turns the tides because he is more than human. Bungie, in ODST, had the opportunity to tell a story that can connect to regular humans through loss and struggle, and everything ends up hunky dory.

When Halo: Reach was announced, I wasn’t excited. I knew Reach was glassed by the Covenant and it was a major loss for the UNSC, but after ODST I didn’t feel confident that Bungie would make use of that dramatic of a setting to do anything but give us another Master Chief Lite story. It wasn’t until the game was released, when other people were describing it as the best Halo story yet, that I actually got interested in playing it.

Thus far, it has delivered. Reach is taking a beating and the outlook is pretty hopeless. Jorge died blowing up a Covenant cap ship, just before a whole lot more pop into orbit. Kat takes a needle in the brain out of nowhere. Characters, heroes, potential Master Chiefs are dying.

Which is how things should be. Master Chief is so important and instrumental in the survival of the human race because he’s the last of the SPARTAN-II project. He’s the last super-soldier. If the rest of Noble team were to make it off of Reach alive, the question becomes “Where the hell were they during the first 3 Halo games?” In order to maintain that Master Chief mythology, no one can get out of Reach alive except him.

I’m on mission 9 out of 10. There are four more members of Noble team left. I’m sincerely looking forward to some grade-A heroics and an ending that preserves the legend of Master Chief.

The Google Laptop

I signed up to test Google’s Chrome OS as soon as I got a notification that it was open on my Chrome start page. I wasn’t expecting much to come out of it. I mean, why would Google send me a laptop? But I came back from an early class this morning to find a UPS truck blocking my driveway and then when I got inside I saw that he had dropped off a package for me! I was truly shocked to find it was a laptop! And even though it’s a test product, it didn’t come with a pile of paperwork and instructions. It came with one two-sided sheet. One side is for getting connected to the internet, the other side is some suggestions of things to try and simple usage instructions. But enough words, here are a bunch of poorly lit, blurry photos!

The Cr-48 in all it's glory! Note the huge touchpad.

The Cr-48 in all it’s glory! Note the huge touchpad.

A super-blurry photo of the search button, and you can see some of the browser buttons at the top!

A super-blurry photo of the search button, and you can see some of the browser buttons at the top!   

The log-on screen! That's an awful picture I took while I was getting changed this morning. The laptop has a built-in webcam and microphone!

The log-on screen! That’s an awful picture I took while I was getting changed this morning. The laptop has a built-in webcam and microphone!  

This is the start page. Unless you already had some pages open when you last shut it down, this is what it goes to after login! There is literally nowhere else to go, everything is contained within the browser.

This is the start page. Unless you already had some pages open when you last shut it down, this is what it goes to after login! There is literally nowhere else to go, everything is contained within the browser.

The only things in the system tray are a clock, your connection status icon, and a battery power indicator.

The only things in the system tray are a clock, your connection status icon, and a battery power indicator.  

The settings page is only slightly different from the settings page on the standalone browser but it's really just to accommodate a few essential system settings.

The settings page is only slightly different from the settings page on the standalone browser but it’s really just to accommodate a few essential system settings.

This thing comes with 100MB/month of Verizon 3G data for 2 years. FOR FREE.

This thing comes with 100MB/month of Verizon 3G data for 2 years. FOR FREE.  

Look familiar? Nothing really different here.

Look familiar? Nothing really different here.

Pretty much the same as the browser, except the account stuff.

Pretty much the same as the browser, except the account stuff.

The same scary stuff that the browser has. I've left it all turned on because I am actually interested in testing this thing and if my browsing habits help, then Google can have them.

The same scary stuff that the browser has. I’ve left it all turned on because I am actually interested in testing this thing and if my browsing habits help, then Google can have them.

Some simple account management and login security.

Some simple account management and login security.

Some of the pictures that didn’t come out were the actual laptop itself. It’s flat black, with no markings. No serial numbers, no giant Google logo, no nothing! There’s a couple of vents on the sides for heat, a VGA port, 1 USB port, a headphone jack, an SD card slot, a power receptacle, and that’s it. No disc drives and this thing is absolutely silent when it’s on. The battery is enormous but it’s also completely flat. I don’t know the dimensions of it but I’d hazard a guess that it’s a 12 inch screen and no more than an inch and a half thick.

I plan on taking it to school tomorrow to see how well it plays with the campus wireless VPN. Overall, really excited to have a new toy to play with!

Bizarre Teenage Love Dream

I thought I was going to bed at a reasonable hour when I went to bed at 10pm tonight but now it’s 1:30am and I’m wide awake. I had some screwed up dream about teenage love and I can’t get it out of my head.

I’m living in a house that’s not a house I’ve lived in before. My room is a big open shared attic, with two queen sized beds in between of two staircases leading down, with desks on the opposite sides of each staircase. I’m sharing the room with my sister. A girl I like is there. She’s got a pretty face and light brown hair.

We’re fooling around and I feel like I really like her and we have some kind of connection. She’s straddling me on the bed and I feel like I’m about this close to putting my dick in her and my sister cockblocks me. She says mom needs me to come downstairs to do something. So I go downstairs and whatever mom wants is trivial or dumb. I get back upstairs and she’s talking to my sister and the moment is gone. She no longer seems interested in me at all.

I go back downstairs and watch TV with some unknown father figure. The girl never comes down to talk or see me.

Then I’m in a van at night. Father figure is driving, my sister is there, the girl is there and we’re giving her a ride home. Father figure asks her something along the lines of where she needs to be dropped off and she tells him he doesn’t need to drop her off anywhere and that she left already. She’s got that sweet smile on her face. I tell her that she couldn’t have left already, I didn’t see her come down the stairs. I know this because I was waiting for her. She sits there with that sweet smile on her face and lies to me and tells me that she must have slipped past because she already left.

Now I hate her. I hate her because I feel like my feelings were misled and now she’s lying to my face and she won’t stop smiling like I’m the one who’s insane or confused. Now I’m awake.

I am WAY late…

But Ubuntu 10.10 is being released in FOUR days! Countdown timer appropriately updated!

This will probably be the first time I’ve waited for the actual release rather than upgrading to a beta. I’m using my netbook daily, and using it to take notes in one class, so I can’t really afford to lose everything. Not that upgrading to the beta would cause me to lose everything but I typically wipe it for a new release. Not this time!

Ne Cede Malis