Another year older, another day wiser…

I now have some pictures to go along with some of this so I suppose it’s time for an update.

Well, long past time, I’m sure. I haven’t written a lot of blogs in the past couple of years and… that’s something I need to fix. I really just need to open up a text window and start typing away.

I turned 44 a few weeks ago. I’ll spare you the existential angst I went through at the turn of double four… suffice to say I didn’t think I’d be where I am at this age. Then again, I didn’t have any firm idea of where I’d be at all so the outcome really isn’t surprising. It’s hard to be surprised when you don’t have any expectations.

It is, however, easy to be disappointed when you don’t have any expectation. And that revelation… surprised me.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Turning 44.

I have a wealth of friends, more than any man’s share I’m sure, and they all went to great lengths to ensure I enjoyed my birthday. Ronya, in particular, went to amazing lengths.

First there was a dinner party at Shane and Dianne’s place on Friday night with the tribe. Lots of candy and cake and a bit of Scene It: Disney style. We were all kind of curious as to why every single answer had to be prefaced with the word “Disney’s” until we got our first question about Toy Story, the answer to which was “Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story”. It pretty soon became a running joke that every answer was “Disney’s Something” unless the clue was digitally rendered in which case it was “Disney/Pixar’s Something”. It’s amazing how often copyright issues turn even the simplest things into lame jokes.

Playing Xbox at the Chinook Theater

Playing Xbox at the Chinook Theater

Saturday morning a small collection of us showed up at the Scotiabank Theater in Chinook Mall to play some Xbox. Ronya had rented out the the theater for a couple of hours and we got to play Left 4 Dead, Halo 3, and Dead or Alive 4 on the biggest projection TV screen in the world. DOA4 is even better when the jiggly bits are each bigger than you are, but Left 4 Dead was just creepy with zombies twenty feet tall and 130 decibels loud.

Playing DOA4 on the biggest widescreen ever.

Playing DOA4 on the biggest widescreen ever.

After the Xbox we transitioned over to my favorite pub, Limericks, for a lunch of my favorite greasy, cheesy food. It was a bit touch and go at first, though. It took me three tries to finally find a patio chair that wasn’t broken. The food, weather, and company very quickly made up for it, though.

After lunch… well, I had a nap, didn’t I? I’m not getting any younger, you know. An exciting day like that will take a lot out of a man my age.

After my afternoon nap we ventured up into the far northwest to Tony and Mary Ann’s’ place where we grazed on fine food and alcohol. My friends got to enjoy doodling on me like a curved, spongy white board for a while. Dianne had purchased me a plain white t-shirt and then made we wear it while everyone doodled on my with markers and fabric color pens. It’s an odd feeling being written on and it kind of made me appreciate what it might be like to be a notebook. Ronya drew epaulets on both my shoulders but many people felt they looked more like irradiated penises aiming for my ears. Others wrote across my back that I was offering free hugs… after a mail in rebate. I think my favorite bit was the pocket that got drawn on my chest, complete with pocket protector and a varied selection of pens.

Being a human sketch pad tickles

Being a human sketch pad tickles

As the dye dried on my shirt we then dove into Rock Band: The Beatles, drinks well in hand to best adapt to the mindset of the band. I have never, and probably will never, sing for Rock Band but I was given to understand that the addition of two other singers and the potential for harmonizing made the game both more interesting and more difficult. For me it was just cool playing with six people all at once.

We played through the storyline of the entire game. The best I can say is it’s definitely worth playing through once, but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of replay-ability. Perhaps if they actually had the whole library of Beatles tunes instead of just the 35 selected tracks, or if they had even just built the game around all their chart-able hits, it might have been worth going back and playing some of them again. But some of their track choices, while providing and interesting perspective on the band’s development (you could actually *feel* the disintegration of the band’s normal cohesion throughout the last set) weren’t compelling enough to go back and play again.

That being said if they made the tracks available for download for regular Rock Band I’d be willing to download about half of them.

Playing Rock Band Beatles

Playing Rock Band Beatles

Last but certainly not least, Ronya’s family pooled money together to buy me the Carcassonne Big Box, a collection of the basic Carcassonne game and five of it’s more popular expansions.

We’ve played the game almost every day since we got it and I’m nowhere near tired of it yet. The game box itself contains an interesting feature that appeals to my detail oriented nature: the interior of the box is formed in such a way that each set of tiles ( the basic and each of the expansions ) has it’s own precision fit storage slot. This way you can pick and choose which expansions to use for the game you’re playing. (ie. if you’re feeling particularly adversarial you can put in the princess / dragon / fairy expansion) The tiles themselves are watermarked with a little symbol depicting the expansion they’re from so it’s easy to sort them all out later and put them back in their respective holes.

Yes, I’m so anal I’m gushing about the organizational packaging that came with the game more than the actual game itself.

But the game itself is great fun as well. So far I think I’ve only won two actual games but I don’t care, it’s just fun to play.

Big thanks to all my friends and family, and to my tribe, for setting up an awesome birthday weekend.

1074

Posting at Tammy’s request:

A birthday party for Chad is being held at his parent’s place on Sunday, April 15th. It’s going to start at about 2pm. No need for gifts but if people want to bring food they’re more than welcome.

I’ll post more details as I get them, including the specific location of Chad’s parents’ house.

For more details on how Chad’s doing, if you don’t already have on your friends list then definitely add him.

Getting Better

Well I think I have enough energy in me to finally write up a real journal entry.

I’m still sick, but I think I’m getting better. Now I only feel nauseated for a short while after I eat. The rest of the time I’m fine. Sunday night I found it almost impossible to sleep for some reason, like I was wired on drugs or something, but last night was more or less normal. None of this has been as bad as the food poisoning I had last year. I never got the chills, for one thing, which was good. I’ve been “chilly” from time to time but nothing a simple sweater couldn’t fix and likely due more to my lack of food intake than the illness itself.

The weekend up at Connie and Colin’s place was nice, and definitely relaxing. I just wish I could have been more engaging than I was. Marvelous food was cooked but I had little appetite and even less appreciation. And alcohol was just too scary a risk to take. Still, it was very good to see Connie and Colin again. Hopefully next visit I’ll be in better shape.

For his birthday we bought Colin tickets to see BB King in Edmonton in May. Unfortunately Ticketmaster won’t mail tickets to any address but the billing address. Luckily they’ll e-mail them to pretty much any address to tell them too. Unfortunately the person I talked to evidently either lost the e-mail address I spelled out for her over the phone today or botched up the change because they got e-mailed to me instead. Luckily, I can just forward them to Colin myself. Unfortunately Colin will still have to wait until May to actually see BB King.

Happy Birthday Colin!

The drive to and from C&C’s place was nice and relaxing. I found out that my little car can make it from Mundare to C&C’s place, and then all the way back home on one tank of gas. Less, really, as the gas station near our place was closed when I got home Sunday night so I didn’t get to gas up until Monday morning. I gotta say, I do love my Yaris.

Using the trip meter I can now say that it’s about 470 Kilometers from C&C’s front door to ours, plus or minus given side trips to gas stations.

Back and Writing

So I finally lost the battle. With so many people around me getting sick it was
inevitable. So now I have a minor head cold.

Not a great tragedy or anything. In fact I’m in that cotton-headed stage that
kind of feels like being high, and the only discomfort is some minor sinus
congestion. If it starts to bother me I’ve brought in some DayQuil to help ease
it, but for now I’m going to stick with just dosing myself with lots of ginseng
and Echinacea.

(Radio Paradise is conspiring to keep me in that pleasantly floating mood…
Could someone please find the lyrics to the song “Dance on My Grave” by a band
called “Seconds Flat”? I tried to Google it and couldn’t get anything. It’s
supposedly from an album called “Spittin’ Cause We Like To”, although I
can’t find that anywhere either. Man I want a copy of this tune.)

A lot has been happening in my world and I apologize to some of you for not
keeping you up to date on it. I find I’ve been a bit gun shy about sharing “too
much” online lately. Part of it was due to … I don’t know quite how to put it.
A concern that some people might not be comfortable with the info. But then if
it’s TMI, they can always stop reading I guess. The other part of it is a
growing reluctance of sharing some things for the irrational fear that
revelation may cause diminishment.

Kind of a quieter “back ground” version of the if-you-talk-about-it-you’ll-jinx-it fear.

So part of that has me editing my thoughts as I type, and that’s not how I
write. If I put down the filters I start editing, deleting, and completely
re-writing sentences. I even have multi-page entries I’ve written that I simply
failed to post. This, in my philosophy, is an unhealthy place to be. I’m still
convinced that open honesty is the best way for me to live, and if I can’t
manage that then I need to check into what needs changing and change it.

So… I’m back, even if you didn’t realize I was “gone”. This announcement is as
much for my benefit as anyone else’s.

And, like getting back into the gym after a prolonged absence, it’s best to
start with the light stuff and work your way back up to the heavy.

We’re knee deep in the season of birthdays in our household. Starting in late
August through to January we have more birthdays to celebrate than we can shake
a stick at. *shakes stick* See? Not enough stick. Need more stick.

My own birthday was a somewhat subdued non-event this year. I mean, once you
pass Forty turning Forty-One is well within the realm of “anti-climatic”.
Although this had it’s own benefits as I ended up spreading the celebrations and
gift receiving over more than a month. Definitely a good way to enjoy your
birthday.

Of course Ronya got me my recumbent bike earlier in the summer for my birthday,
and I have enjoyed learning to ride it. I need to make a few changes before
summer hits, though. I need a new helmet with a looser strap, or to add a few
inches to the one I have. And I need to adjust the shifters. Once that’s done
I’m ready to ride it to the gym and back next summer.

Dianne couldn’t decide which of three possible gifts to get me, so she made me
decide. While we waited for others to join us at the pub she presented me with
three folded slips of paper fanned out in her hand and told me I’d have to
choose one without seeing what the others would have been. She really wasn’t
expecting me to be fast enough to snatch all three from her hand, though. And
even though I actually only managed to pull two slips free the yip she gave out
as my hand snapped out was well worth it. And then, because I wanted to be fair
I chose one of the slips I’d grabbed and gave her the other one back unopened. I
mean, sure I *can* cheat, doesn’t mean I have to. 🙂

So Dianne ended up taking me to The Sentry Box to shop for games and/or gaming
material. After wandering around I finally decided to get what I pretty much
knew I’d end up getting before we even drove there:
RoboRally! Sadly the original version of the game is no longer
available and the “newer” version released from a different company has all the
PhilFoglio art replaced with nice, ordinary art that I’m sure is
just Fine, but it’s not real Foglio! And they took out the crushers for some
inexplicable reason. And according the the staff at Sentry Box the new company
has no plans to release any expansions for the game. I could buy the old
expansions on E-Bay, but I’d be paying a hefty price for them.

Lucky for me there’s an extensive online community for Robo Rally with dozens of
home made maps and even a free application to make maps of my own! (although I
downloaded that and tried it… and decided that using photoshop to make my own
maps would be easier) I’ve taken the game around with me to a few places and
everybody agrees it’s a lot of fun.

Phil and Lisa bought me a copy of Burnout:Revenge for my Xbox and I have to admit it’s a lot of fun. Especially when it turns a relatively sedate mother of three into a bloodthirsty
crash demon with the vocabulary of an old sailor suffering from tourette’s. And
it’s even cuter when she realizes she’s doing it and gets all embarrassed. 🙂

Later on Ronya’s parents gave me another birthday present of fabulous, easy to
use cash so I went out and bought a couple more games. First I bought Morrowind:
The Elder Scrolls
because I never did play much of the copy I borrowed from C&C last time. Then I bought a copy of Xig , that game I mentioned that was co-created by the very talented
Tim Heusken. I haven’t had much of a change to play Morrowind yet, and haven’t
played Xig at all. I’m going to have to find some time for that.

The main reason I hadn’t played much Morrowind is that while I was buying it ( A
classic on sale for only $20! Cheap! ) I also rented Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, the sequel to “Doom 3”. It was a relatively inexpensive 7-day rental and I figured a week would be enough time to play it through once on the easy level. Boy was I wrong. They not only gave you
a couple of new weapons, they also amped up the opponents to the point where
it’s almost impossible to win on “cadet” level. I hate to see what it would be
like on “nightmare” level. I returned the game early since it rapidly stopped
being fun.

In other news… I actually managed five workouts last week, which is one less
than what I used to do weekly but still three more than I have been doing
lately, so I consider it a win. Unfortunately this cold is going to knock me
back off that training routine this week. I did do my cardio workout yesterday
in the hopes of burning this cold out while it was still just a hint but that
didn’t seem to work. Felt good, though.

But I’m not going to work out tonight. I’m not going to work out again until I’m
feeling better. I don’t want a repeat of the horrendous cold I had back in ’04.
I’ve been adopting the policy of letting my body heal on it’s own time and that
seems to be working better.

In the meantime, though, I have started a food log using Google Calendar to keep
track of what I eat. I already know I’ve been eating too much but I keep having
weak moments in which I rationalize it or just write it off. Much harder to do
when you sit down and categorize everything you eat each and every day… and
when you eat it. It’s easy to see the pattern of eating-because-I’m-bored
emerge. I’d say I eat about half as much on the weekends as I do during the
week. At least now I’ve taken to bringing all my food to work with me so that
when I *do* snack I end up eating stuff with real food value to it. I’ve totally
fallen in love with fat free yogurt and fresh fruit mixed. It totally rocks my
world.

And now we return to your regularly scheduled test pattern.