Friday, March 31, 2006

At least I can't complain of boredom

It's been a crazy week at work, yet I'm feeling a little more comfortable with my job than I have in quite a while. My department has merged with the web team, which brings me into contact with a lot of new faces. I'm also getting more involved in the day-to-day retail support operations, which is an interesting change. It's nice to have readily attainable goals every day, rather than "you'll be testing this monster application that may or may not be complete sometime this century".

At home, there's no end of things to do. We're over a season behind on watching 24, and we've got a stack of PC and PS2 games that haven't even been opened yet. I'm forcing myself to be good and not pick up any more new games, despite all the buzz that Guitar Hero and Kingdom Hearts 2 are getting.

Our television has picked up the annoying habit of emitting a loud, high-pitched squeal after it's been turned on for a few minutes. Hillary is blessed with the inability to hear super-high frequencies most of the time, but it absolutely drives me crazy. I assume something in the TV is resonating at the scan frequency, but repeated slapping of the top of the set hasn't improved the problem. We went to Coeur d'Alene to look at TV's last weekend, and I think I'll be buying one tomorrow. I have my eye on this Philips LCD HDTV, but I don't know if we can get that price in the physical store. If not, they had a 32" that looked pretty nice.

Hillary and I are still leveling like crazy in World of Warcraft. I think she's really looking forward to getting into endgame raiding, since it's a whole different animal from the two- and three-person groups we use when leveling. It's a good thing, since my Mage is about to "cap out" of Molten Core, and has most of his endgame gear now. Just in time to step in with my new Druid and start all over again.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My greatest accomplishment

TRON shoulders.



Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Snow outside == video games inside

It's March 15th. A week until Spring. It's snowing like crazy outside.

I love talking about games, so here goes...

I finished Grandia 3 a little over a week ago, and it was surprisingly disappointing. While the graphics were beautiful and the combat system is the best to ever grace a console RPG, the storyline was dull and predictable, the characters were two-dimensional, and the voice acting was excruciating. If you can't come up with dialogue that avoids using "..." every five lines, you might want to look into careers other than scriptwriting. Japanese dialogue just doesn't translate to English well; Grandia 2 was obviously "rewritten" during localization to make the dialogue make more sense to Americans, and it's a shame they didn't do the same for G3. Still, the amazing battle system makes everything forgivable. It's genious. Ingenious, even.

Galactic Civilizations 2 is finally out, which I'd been looking forward to since I played the first game. Planet management looks to be much easier now, and you can customize your own ships (graphics and all!). If only I had time for another game... Between raiding with my WoW guild and playing my Druid with Hillary's character, my free time at home is pretty rare. We can barely keep up with all the TV shows we're following.

The CTmod team released a new WoW character tracking website called CTprofiles. You can enter your character information and create equipment profiles (either your different "outfits" for various situations, or gear you don't have yet to plan out your upgrade path). You can see Jahgah, my Troll Mage, by clicking here. Click on the item slots, look at all those tasty purple epics!

Also, I was excited to hear the rumors that a sequel is in the works for the much-underappreciated "Beyond Good and Evil". Usually, when a game sells... well... zero copies, they don't make a sequel for it. Considering BG&E was one of the best games of 2004, this is great news.

I'm staying inside until summer. There's bears out there.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Packing up the tent?

Back when we were considering the move to Idaho, my mindset was "I'm just going to think of this as a year-long camping trip, and see where it goes from there".

Here we are nearly ten months later, and the novelty of the camping trip is wearing off. I have to drive 45 minutes to shop at anything resembling a mall or eat at a Wendy's, and nearly two hours to see a concert or take in a hockey game. It's hard to find a good show, even in Spokane (which is decently-sized, but far enough "out of the way" that most national acts rarely stop by when touring the west coast). Nevermind the fact that I've been sick for over two months now, despite frequent doctor's visits and enough antibiotics to kill a small elephant.

Let's face it; I was born a city boy. I grew up in a suburb of San Francisco, went to school in Huntsville, and worked my first "real" job in Birmingham. For me, the convenience of having civilization nearby vastly outweighs the perks of small-town life. If braving the interstate to get to work in the morning means I can get a cheeseburger after midnight, it's an easy tradeoff to make.

But there's the problem. Hillary likes the area and loves her job. While she's not completely opposed to moving, she doesn't hold any great attachment to the Southeast. I don't have my heart set on Birmingham, but most of our friends and family are close, and I still have enough contacts there that I could probably get a decent job. Hillary hates the "you must be an ultra-conservative Christian" attitude common throughout most of the south, especially in social work agencies.

The west coast is too expensive. The northeast is too crowded and cold. The southeast is full of closed-minded, intolerant assholes. There doesn't seem to be anyplace that fits us quite the way we'd like.

So, where to? I have no idea, and the end of our lease is approaching.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Not dead yet!

It's a month later, and I'm still getting over being sick. Apparently I had a bad case of viral bronchitis, which was made worse by catching a cold right as I started taking antibiotics. I also managed to tear the cartilidge under my ribcage by coughing in the middle of the night, so it hurts to move around too much.

So far I've only missed two and a half days of work (not bad for being sick for six weeks!), and I'm starting to feel better now.

I've been having a blast raiding in World of Warcraft. I've been going to Blackwing Lair semi-regularly, and my Mage has epic items in most of his equipment slots now. Hillary and I are still playing our Hunter/Druid combo, which is proving to be very deadly as we get up in levels -- she can dish out some amazing damage, her pet is great at distracting extra monsters, and I'm getting where I'm versatile enough to tank, heal, or dish out damage as the situation requires.

Other than our online friends, there's not much to call a social life here in Sandpoint. It's definitely an "older" town; most of the kids here go off to college and then don't come back afterwards, which makes the chances of finding people with similar interests fairly slim. My co-workers aren't much into gaming, though I'm going to try inviting some folks over for a game party once I'm feeling better.

Our lease (and my one-year commitment to my job) is up in June, and I don't know what we're going to do after that. Hillary likes the area and her job, but I'm not sure how much Sandpoint has to offer me in the long term. I'm pretty torn between wanting to stay here a while longer, moving back to Birmingham/Huntsville, or going crazy and trying to find a good job someplace completely new. At least we're getting close to having enough saved for a decent down payment on a house, so we can set up somewhere (and stop overpaying on rent) once we decide what to do.