I'm just a guy with a pension of occasional insanity and the occasion for misadventures in airplanes. I also seem to be an aspiring writer, if I can ever get myself to sit down and write, which, by the way, makes it interesting as to how I'm an aspiring writer considering that I'm also an aspiring engineer. The two aren't supposed to be together.
But please enjoy whatever it is that I ramble about whether it be sports, news, or just anything that I decide to blog about.
28Apr 13Once upon a time, in the fields of Mississippi were two rabbits. Their names were Sergio and Pierre. They were brothers from Quebec here in Mississippi for the flight of the monarchs. Unbeknownst to them, the monarchs actually migrate south of their position.
Turning to his brother, Pierre said: "Merrere mereaf blpppt."
Which as we all know is rabbit for: "Da **** are we?"
23Apr 13Yesterday I decided to head out with my girl on an adventure! We decided to spend the day watching the Giants at AT&T Park. To get there, we debated a little bit on our travel options. We could drive up there, encounter the terrible parking situation that surrounds the ballpark and the traffic that ensues after the game. We could take Bart on up. Or we could take the Caltrain. Seeing as though I haven't taken Caltrain before, I suggested it as our mode of transport, especially since it was close by for the two of us to meet.
Mountain View was our meeting location and after meeting her after work, we got onto the 6:35 train northbound. This was my first time not only on Caltrain but also on a train. So that was rather momentous. It took us about 45 minutes to get up there and we entered the ballpark during the bottom of the 1st inning, just in time to hear the sellout crowd roar as back-to-back doubles by Sandoval and Posey tied the game up at 2-2.
Now, I did see my girl the day before and asked her who the Giants were playing. She responded with: "Oh. Uh... I think they start with a C."
"No. Actually I think it was the name of where they're from."
"So the Colorado Rockies?"
"Yes! That's definitely them."
Flash forward to the game and the Giants tied the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Th-there's a C in the name. I got that part right!"
Nodding and grinning, we picked up a few expensive hotdogs and adult beverages and made our way to our seats along the 3rd base line. The game went by rather quickly as both starters pitched relatively well through to the fifth inning. During that time, we became acquainted with our neighbors. The man sitting to my right in particular started up a conversation with me after I had made comments about what was happening on field, trying to better explain the game to my girl. Such as why the batters are getting out on lazy fly balls and explained a little of the strategy. The man was a season ticket holder who had been in the same seat for 13 years now, and he enjoyed trying to trash talk the opposing team with the volume of someone politely shouting to someone across a small room. A few other people around him were making more noise, such as one large man who kept shouting "Heeeey Pitcher pitcher pitcher!" to everyone's delight during the bottom of the fourth, and another man who was inebriated by the top of the fourth and decided it was a great time to grab some more beers. This same man walked right by his seat, looked around lost, and took an open seat more than ten rows down, again to everyone's delight. He later came back a few innings later, red-faced with two bottles of Coors Light in hand.
As to the game itself, the starters were each pitching relatively well. Both had given up two-run first innings and had settled down. The only difference being that the Arizona pitcher, Wade Miley, had used about 20 less pitchers than the Giant's Ryan Voglesong. Wade Miley by the way had a number of catcalls aimed toward him under "Miley Cyrus!" The pitcher hit a 400+ homerun in the fifth inning. I don't think it worked, considering the hit was his first of the season and the homerun was the guy's first of his career, and let's not forget he almost hit it into McCovey Cove. The guy's a pitcher. Arizona would add a fourth run in the top of the 6th to go ahead 4-2.
Around the 7th inning, Don't Stop Believing by Journey was played during a pitching change. I noted how the entire voice of the stadium was all women, and that the place went quiet as no one could hit the high notes of the song's chorus.
Anyway, the Giants tied the game in bottom of the 8th with a two-run blast by Buster Posey, who slammed it to dead center, a little over 400 feet from home plate against the Arizona closer, and in the bottom of the 9th, Brandon Belt, who entered the game late, hit the game winning RBI double giving the Giants a 5-4 victory. Somewhere between that, a now drunk season-ticket holding neighbor asked me about earlier on in the game to which I replied "Yes. I totally remember that," despite having missed the 1st inning. My girl would later tell me that was the most unconvincing statement I've ever told, to which I replied the guy was too drunk to notice.
Heading back home, we had to wait a good forty minutes to get on the last southbound Caltrain, and took the time walking around the stadium, doing a good long circuit, before getting in line. As the last train, everyone was predictably drunk and we had some entertainment as a group of girls tried to convince each other to sit next to each other in our compartment. This was followed by another compartment trying to get our compartment to sing Happy Birthday, which failed about four times. Then we got moving. We were supposed to leave around 10:40 and instead left closer to 11:00, most likely trying to make sure everyone got on that needed to get on.
It was a slower ride than the one coming up as we had to make every stop. So I spent the time reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson on my phone while my girl napped. We got to our cars just after 12:30 and I got home just before 1:00 and quickly called it a night.
So in short, Adventure Time was a blast. Can't wait to do it again and no you can't come with me unless you have something to offer.
11Apr 13So this past week I managed to get a call from a company who wished for me to take a tour of their plant to get a good grasp as to what they do and what I would potentially be doing. In other words, it was an interview without it actually being an interview.
I went over to the plant this past Thursday and not knowing exactly what I'd be doing, spent the first thirty minutes with the manager conversing about the job and asking questions about a few particulars such as pay, contract length, and benefits. From there, I was left to shadow a current employee, who happened to have graduated from the same university as me. Not fully knowing what I was to do, I spent the next two and a half hours following this guy through his process, which didn't take nearly as long as that, all the while getting rather hungry as I didn't fully expect to be inside that place for a full three hours. Upon leaving, I had another discussion with the manager who said that I'd be hearing from HR about payment in a couple of days. Feeling pretty good about the whole ordeal, except for my growling stomach, I headed back home.
Before I get into the aftermath I do want to point out that I was approached about this job, a simple repair technician, a week before during the annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference that my engineering society helps host. We typically get around 200 students and industry professionals to show up each year. Near the end of the conference, I was approached by a few people who mentioned they were looking for people to fill their positions, one of them being an upper manager for this company in particular. We had a nice chat and he gave me his business card. I emailed the guy a few days later, making sure that I was cognitive enough after a night of heavy drinking and I was soon introduced to the repair facility manager who helped set up the tour date.
Fast forward to two days ago and I receive an email from the manager stating that they are no longer looking to employ me. Confused and slightly angry I shot back an email wondering why the quick 180 after being offered the job in the first place, with nothing more than a very simple one sentence email. Of course this came after my dad told me I should ask for details and that I should also get into contact with the upper manager that I met during the conference. I did. Well I tried. For you see, the upper manager no longer works at the company.
I know what a few of you are thinking, that I probably wasn't offered a job in the first place, but typically when you're told you're going to be contacted shortly for payment, that's practically a job offer in and of itself. A "We'll contact you if we think you're a good fit" is not an offer and it also what wasn't said to me. In between the date of the tour and the fateful first email, I spent time planning out what my finances would look like including a search into what apartment I could rent. So, I kind of wanted a more specific answer as to why I was offered the job in the first place and discarded so quickly.
The email reply that I got was just as simplistic as before. One sentence and stated the exact same reason as before, albeit with more periods and less wordage. Well that was that I guess. Nothing more I can do. If you're wondering the upper manager sent an email just last week asking other students to send their resumes to him. His email address no longer works, having fallen into the mailer daemon nest, and he currently works for a company, get this, that helps women in obtaining a better education. I'm not joking. After working for three biomedical companies, he's now working for a company that helps women in obtaining a better education. Not that I'm judging the guy for his choice of work, but I am wondering why he failed to mention that he was leaving so soon while asking for people to send them their resumes, even without naming his replacement.
So yes. I don't think you could plan anything better for what eventually occurred.
Back to the drawing board it is.
2Apr 13Hey, it's more of this enthralling story. Here's Part One.
Part Two begins:
Steve caught up to the waitress. "So -"
"Nope," she said as she carried another order to an awaiting table.
"Steve can wait as long as he wants," Steve said as he watched the waitress go to work.
"Two words. Aerith. Dies."
Yagr threw his hands up in frustration.
"I like 9!" Ryan said in a crackling drunken voice.
"And not to make this conversation even more nerdy," Hawk said eyeing his victory. "I still watch Naruto."
This caused a storm as all the guys at the table chimed in on what they thought was the best anime series.
Margaret looked on with Jennifer and Lauren. "Boys," she said shaking her head.
"Well, I mean Naruto is a good show," Jennifer said.
"Not you too," Margaret said.
"I like Cowboy Bebop," Lauren said.
"Helloooo nurse," Duncan said sliding back into his seat near them.
"Oh. Yeah, now we're ****ing interesting," Margaret snapped.
Tristan looked up at the large neon lights. Music was thundering inside and he could only imagine that everyone in there was dancing to the phat beat, or whatever hipsters called it these days. Looking down at his schematic, this had to be the place to find the Cal Poly girls.
Yagr looked at his spoonful of pale green mush. He kept it at arms length away due to its aromatic properties. Something told him this would be a terrible idea.
Okay, Hawk said looking around at those participating in the event. This is the first of many wasabi shots.
You guys are idiots, Margaret chimed in from behind.
Alright, Hawk said eyeing everyone and ignoring Margaret. Chow down!
Immediately the room was filled with the sounds of people moaning in pain.
Steve watched the cute waitress from the bar and contemplated his next move.
Here have a beer, the bartender said. Its on the house.
Steve looked at the bartender in quiet surprise. Then he looked at the glass of beer and shrugged. Beer is beer after all, right?
I feel like Ive been punched in the jaw, Paul gasped.
I shouldnt have smelt it first should I? Duncan said, his face red with beads of sweat appearing on his forehead.
Yagr was busy drinking all the beer he could find. This isnt helping! he said a few minutes later as the pain refused to subside.
Who wants some more? Hawk announced. No one dared to look at the crazed professor for fear that they might get a shot.
I do! Leveque said.
Yeah! Thats what I want to hear! And youll have one as well Yagr, Hawk said.
Ah great, Yagr said in between gulps of someones beer.
Neil looked around the new bar he had entered. I dont recognize anyone here, he said to the cute SoCal girl on his arm. Shou-should we keep looking here? She nodded and together they combed through the bar and the pounding sound of the bass.
And yes, if you're wondering these are based on actual events. More to come.
29Mar 13Yagr and company entered the bar The Screaming Whale and followed the waitress to the back area where a number of long tables were set up for them to enjoy. JD stopped and looked at the tables, taking a good long couple of seconds taking in the set up.
"Shouldn't the tables look a little more straight? I mean they're off by a few degrees."
This caused a few of the other engineers in the group to take a closer look at the tables and their arrangements. One of them even took out a piece of graphing paper and began to sketch the area. Yagr looked over at Paul and Warren in alarm.
Warren grabbed JD's should and pushed him towards the nearest seat and turned to look at the waitress. "We need alcohol stat!"
"I don't know what you're talking about?" Yagr said a few minutes later to his professor across the table.
"I mean you have to expand to two bases if you're going to survive as Terran," Professor Hawk said.
"I just go one base all in with Protoss and win almost all the time," Yagr said.
Professor Hawk slammed his fist on the table before pointing at Yagr. "I hate Protoss one base all ins!"
Just then, the waitress arrived and asked for everyone's drink orders. Yagr and Hawk ordered Sam Adams Summer Ale while Steve ordered a Dos Equis. When the waitress left, Hawk looked over at Steve. "You almost sound like you pronounced Dos Equis correctly, like a native speaker."
Steve's eyes lit up and a mischievous grin appeared on his face. Yagr groaned and looked at Hawk. "Do. Not. Encourage. Him."
"So wait," Duncan said as he looked around the now filled room. "Where are all the girls at?"
"I'm a girl," Margaret said. Jennifer and Lauren also raised their hands indicating their femaleness.
"You guys don't count," Duncan said dismissing them, and subsequently ignoring their indignant stares.. "I mean, where are the girls from Cal Poly? Weren't they supposed to be here?"
At this point, from the table behind Duncan, Tristan gave the bad news. "Oh. I told them they wouldn't be on our tab, since this is our night to celebrate the conference."
At once, all of the guys in the vicinity including one professor turned to look at Tristan with a "quick and horrible death to you" look in their eyes.
"What?" Tristan asked with the shrug of the shoulders, completely oblivious as to what occurred.
"And that's how I saved the conference," Neil said to the cute girl from SoCal. "That's soooo amazing," the cute girl said while batting her eyes. Neil wished he could remember her name. It wasn't fair that she took off her name badge. "So where are your friends? I thought they'd be with you?"
"Oh yeah. They should be here," Neil said as he looked around the bar. Then it hit him. "I may have come to the wrong place."
"I'll order another Doss Eqwuus," Steve said in a sultry voice to the waitress. The waitress looked at him quizzically and jotted down his order before leaving.
"She wants me," Steve said with a far-away look on his face.
Yagr turned to look at Hawk and shook his head. "You're playing with fire man."
"I no longer care," Hawk said as he took another long sip from his Guinness.
Tristan was pushed out of the bar. "Find them Cal Poly girls!" about every guy said before they made their way back.
Tristan shrugged and looked at his smart phone. How was he going to find a group of girls that he didn't know? This was going to be quite the engineering problem. So he took out a piece of paper and got to work.
"The best move I've ever seen," Professor Hawk said continuing his story, "has to be when I saw a number of archons take out a fleet of void rays after being vortexed." He looked up at the expectant faces of Yagr and Paul. "I couldn't believe my eyes."
"You talking about the Archon Toilet?" Lucas said next to Yagr.
Yagr and Paul jumped at the sudden arrival of Lucas. "When did you show up?" they both said in unison.
"So, Archon Toilet, I know that move," Lucas said ignoring both Yagr and Paul.
"Best move I've ever seen, in that context," Hawk said again.
"I remember that match. That was insane," Lucas agreed nodding his head. "Did you catch the MLG finals?"
"I did. Still can't believe a Zerg player won with the Terran's widow mines in store," Hawk said.
"I wish I was better at Starcraft," Yagr said as he watched Hawk and Lucas get into an animated discussion about last weekend's MLG finals.
Steve walked up to the waitress, slightly staggering as he did. "So," he said as he neared her.
"Nope," she said quickly as she took another round of shots back to the bar area.
Steve smirked. "Gonna play hard to get huh? I can play that game."
"Best Final Fantasy game," Hawk said looking around the table. "Go."
"6 by far," Yagr said.
"X for me," Duncan chimed in.
"8," Paul and Lucas said, causing Yagr to look at them in alarm. "What?" they each said.
"It's not a good game," Yagr said.
"I can't believe none of you said 7," Hawk said incredulously, talking over the coming storm of FF8 debates. "I only have two words for you. Aerith dies."
"No," Yagr said. "I mean how can you overlook the best scene in all of gaming that is the Opera of 6?"
"8 is all an experiment! They had amnesia the entire time!" Paul and Lucas chimed in.
"I liked 9 the best," a slightly drunk Ryan said as he struggled to sit down at the table.
Yagr and Hawk ignored everyone as they began their debate.
Neil walked out of the bar and onto the street with the cute SoCal girl in hand. "Maybe they were in that bar?" he said. The pair of them crossed the street and entered the fourth bar on their trip to find the group.
And that's the start of the night.
On Wednesday I hosted the fourth annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference and let's just say that the after party got more than a little silly and nerdy. That's what you get when you mix engineers and alcohol.
25Mar 13The opening rounds of the NCAA tournament are complete and we are down to just 16 teams left standing. Among them are twelve higher seeds looking for glory and four lower seeds that are looking to spoil all the fun. Along the way there have been some winners and losers, some conferences that have done much better than expected while others that, well, didn't really do all that well.
Winner: Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten Conference entered the tournament sending seven of their twelve schools (yes the Big Ten has TWELVE schools and if you're wondering the Big 12 conference has TEN schools, don't ask) into the fray. With that many teams in, it's hard to mention that they could be a winner as it does increase the odds that their teams would fall, and of course it could always increase the amount that push through. Why the Big East isn't in the discussion for winners is just that, of the eight Big East teams that entered, less than half are still in. By virtue of percentage does this help the Big Ten. The Big Ten seven was whittled down to just four and occupy a quarter of the remaining draw. To make this even more impressive is the odd regional spread that gives the Big Ten a chance to control the Final Four. For that possibility to exist, you have to say that the Big Ten are winners after the first weekend.
Loser: Mountain West Conference
Last year the Mountain West Conference had a record four schools enter the tournament. None of them really made it too far with New Mexico being the only school to record a win. This year, they broke that record with five schools, and just like last year, not many of them made it far. The top seeds New Mexico and UNLV were upended by Harvard and California and Boise St lost in the first four. Colorado St and San Diego St did collect wins, and lost out keeping the conference from obtaining any sweet sixteen spot. For a conference to send so many schools, it does end up being a loss when none of them manage to make a breakthrough especially in the case of New Mexico whose offensive woes came to light against Harvard who won their first ever tournament game. Better luck next year, huh?
Winner: Pac-12 Conference
Last year the Pac-12 Conference was bad. None of their 12 teams were ranked nationally, and Utah and USC combined for 12 wins and 40+ losses. They somehow managed to get three teams into the tournament, thanks partially due to Colorado winning the conference tournament, and they faded away without much bang. This year, the conference rebounded and managed to get five schools into the tournament, with three of them ranked nationally. Despite this, the selection committee didn't exactly show any respect for the conference. The highest seed given to Pac-12 schools was 6, given to both UCLA and Arizona. As for Oregon who won the conference tournament? They received a 12 seed along with California. As for Colorado who finished fifth in the conference standings? They somehow received a 10 seed. So yes the conference winner is a 12 seed and they didn't take too kindly to that. Oregon blasted past Oklahoma St and Saint Louis to obtain one of two sweet sixteen spots for the conference. Arizona joined them with a slightly easier path moving through Belmont and Harvard. For a conference that didn't get too much respect, they're showing they can play.
Loser: West Coast Conference
The West Coast Conference only sent two teams into the tournament, those two being St Mary's and Gonzaga. While they did collect two wins before being knocked off, which is pretty respectable for a mid-major conference, but when you add in the fact that Gonzaga was a 1 seed and ranked 1st nationally, their early exit places the conference in the losers area. Gonzaga did not look like a 1 seed throughout their short stay in the tournament. Struggling against the size of 16 seed Southern and against the faster Wichita St, Gonzaga just didn't look confident as they played rigidly at times, not sure if they were truly there. Kelly Olynyck, player of the year candidate, was about the only one who decided to play. As for the supporting cast? They weren't there on a consistent basis and before they knew what was going on, they were headed home. The selection committee might not be so generous to award a team from the West Coast Conference a 1 seed in the future.
And of course, let's not forget to mention Florida Gulf Coast and La Salle. The first 15 seed to ever make the sweet sixteen, Florida Gulf Coast played like a team that was accustomed to being in the tournament and looked like they were having a whole hell of a lot of fun as they downed Georgetown and San Diego St without breaking too much of a sweat. It's hard to imagine that the school has only been in existence since 1997 and this is only their third year of being eligible to participate in the tournament. They looked more like the 2 seed in each of their games and their matchup against bigger brother Florida next weekend could be a fun game to watch. It'll be interesting to see how far they can keep on going.
As for La Salle, they were the fifth and final team from the good Atlantic Ten Conference (which coincidentally has 16 teams, go figure) to make the tournament, and of the five A-10 teams, they were the least likely of them to be the one that's left standing. Saint Louis, Virginia Commonwealth, and Butler are excellent schools with final four and finals experience. La Salle hasn't been to the sweet sixteen since 1955. Never mind that, La Salle fought through Boise St in their first four matchup and barely hung on to take out Kansas St after blowing an 18 halftime lead and followed that up by taking out Ole Miss by two. They have fellow low seed Wichita St next and guarantee a low seed will move on to the elite eight. Can they join VCU in being a low seed that fought in the first four to make the final four? VCU did that two years ago.
Finally, the rest of the field includes the top seeds and I'm hoping more of them fall so my bracket can win. As long as Louisville loses before the final four, I'll be happy knowing that I've won a-hehe.
23Mar 13Now that the NCAA tournament is in full swing, my sister and I have started our annual trash talking. Thursday was the first day that we could see each other's brackets, and as such, my sister had some choice words for who I picked to make it to the championship game.
Sister: Yagr, you have Ohio State winning? I think that is grounds for involuntary commitment into an insane asylum.
Yagr: You mean beating Iona? I think that a perfectly rational choice.
*in gchat* Sister: Slam Slam Slam Slam Slam Slam
Sister: What has Miami ever done to deserve winning the entire tournament?
Yagr: They're better than Purdue.
Sister: **** you!
Hehe, Yagr 1. Sister 0. Go me .
18Mar 13So it's March Madness again this year. One of the biggest sporting events for us kids in the States, and I am at a complete loss as to who to pick for my winner in my family's bracket.
Every year my family has gotten together and trash talked our way through each tournament in hopes of emerging victorious and claiming the family trophy. My sister started the competition a few years ago and the two of us have gone at each other rather viciously. I should note at this point in time that I've finished first and second the past two years while my sister finished last. So yeah, take that.
This year, however, I don't have a firm grasp as to which team is going to win it all. There really hasn't been a team that has the look as being the team to beat. All of the 1 seeds (Gonzaga, Indiana, Kansas, and Louisville) have each struggled at different times this year or, in the case of Gonzaga, haven't been readily tested. The same can be said about the 2 and 3 seeds. Needless to say, it's going to be a weird tournament this year, albeit a fun one without really seeing any single dominant team. The good thing is, my sister doesn't see one either, so we're at an even field thus far. Or as far as she know, a-hehe. >_>
Anyone filling out a bracket? Who do you have winning/going far?
11Mar 13I was going to write about something else, but then I received an email, or should I say a formal invitation. Here's the email, it's just better if people looked at it first:Email wrote:Dear Dr. Yagr, The purpose of this letter is to formally invite you, on behalf of the Organizing Committee, to be a speaker at the upcoming "Conference" on (Date Removed). This conference will be held at Kansas City, USA hosted by (Company Name Removed). (Company Name Removed), the World Class Open Access Publisher and Scientific Events Organizer involved in organizing about 100 International Conferences in 2013. Conference is a specially designed cluster conference. The main theme of the conference is "An insight into the recent research methodologies and discoveries in Fermentation Technology, Bioprocess and cell culture" which covers a wide range of critically important sessions. Conference would lay a platform for the interaction between experts around the world and aims in accelerating scientific discoveries Special Issues:
· All accepted abstracts will be published in the respective Something Group Journals
· Each abstract will receive a Digital Object Identification Number (DOI) provided by CrossRef For scientific program and submission of abstract please Click here Please do not hesitate to contact or mail me for any further assistance. We appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely,
Six Other Doctors.
For those who are wondering, I do not hold a doctorate. Now I have published some research in a scientific journal and may publish two other works, but the key component is that I do not have a PhD. Despite this, apparently I must've done something to accrue this invitation from the six fine individuals from Kansas City. Yes I did censor the email for this blog as I don't want them to google it and suddenly find this. >_>
So yes, I have been invited and I need to come up with a snazzy response to these kids, and I have a large smile on my face considering that I'm busy trying to find a job. I wonder if I should let them know I'm not a doctor. Hmm... The possibilities are vast.
7Mar 13So there's been a sort of fad going around about people posting videos of them dancing during the song "Harlem Shake." Unfortunately, I did not produce such a video. I did however see this video.
Yes that is Wayne Brady.
4Mar 13So this list is a tad bit late as I look at the calendar. I actually wanted to get this up before the Oscars were awarded and then forgot. This was done to make sure I had some time to get through the games I wanted to play from yesteryear. Anyway here's teh list:
10. Legend of Grimrock
Why not start off last years list with an old fashioned dungeon crawler RPG. Legend of Grimrock takes another look at first-person RPG goodness by providing a downright excellent claustrophobic atmosphere that will keep you on your toes. Believe me it did. Especially when those spiders appeared. Hate those spiders. Made me jump more than a few times.
Regardless of the spiders, Legend of Grimrock has a pretty deep gameplay that is simple to pick up and learn as well as thrusting you into a number of perilous positions battling monsters and solving some rather ingenious puzzles as your try to lead your party of four out of the dungeon youve been cast into, and besides, who doesnt like fighting and puzzles?
9. LEGO Lord of the Rings
You know. I didnt want to include this game on the list. I really didnt. It only took about five minutes into my first playthrough before I realized it would be a crime not to. The reason you ask for this about face? I found out that I could use Sams shovel to continually bash dancing hobbits for eternity. Now you might ask, why would that be fun, and surely you cant be serious in saying that just playing five minutes of a game warrants it a place on this list? First off, in the game, there are a trio of hobbits in the starting area of Hobbitton that dance around in a circle in the middle of town. They cannot die and as such, hitting them with a shovel is the only logical answer, especially since the clanging sound mixed in with the fact that the game allows you to follow these hobbits around by just mashing the X button. Secondly, I only spent 15 minutes bashing the hobbits while giggling like a schoolgirl. I did play the rest of the game. Anyway, getting back to seriousness, LEGO LotR does a great job by making it feel as though youre in Middle-Earth. Youre not just going from one level to the next, but youre also traversing a very well created world of Middle-Earth that allows you to walk from Hobbitton all the way to Mordor while passing through faithful recreations of Isengard, Edoras, Minas Tirith, and others. The guys at Travelers Tales have done a great job in this regard that really made the whole game feel right, for whatever thats worth.
8. Avernum Escape From the Pit
Hmm I bet not many people know about this game, or that fact that its a remake of a remake. Avernum is the first of a six-part fantasy RPG series developed by a single man. Yep. The guys at Spiderweb Software are actually just one guy who has managed to create 17 games in just about 20 years. Thats rather impressive. Whats even more impressive are the games itself and Avernum is a prime example. Set in a world where you and your companions have been banished from the surface to the underworld with others who have through one reason or another insulted the Empire. Now its up to you to find your way in this new dangerous world where the sun doesnt shine. I like a good setting I have to say.
While Avernum has a nifty story attached to it, its old-fashioned RPG elements, such as turn-based everything, no one moves unless you do while the battles are more traditional turn-base fare where you and the badnicks take turns hitting each other. Adding into the fun is that fact that Avernum is a completely open-world affair. Think of it as a 2D version of Skyrim and youll get the idea. You can literally do anything. Want to explore that creepy abandoned castle? Go for it. Want to challenge that dragon to combat? Sure. Want to just complete the story related missions? Be boring why dont you. Its this openness along with the solid RPG mechanics that make Avernum such a joy to play, even if it is a remake of a game Ive played once some time ago.
7. Alan Wakes American Nightmare
When Alan Wake came out two years ago, I wasnt sure if I was going to purchase that game. I stood there staring at it and decided lets go for it. I didnt regret it as that became one of my favorite games of this generation. Now, two years later, the talented guys at Remedy have graced us with another Alan Wake game.
The first thing I have to point out is that American Nightmare is not a full-fledged sequel. Its more or less a side story where the titular hero has found himself stuck inside a Twilight Zone-esqe episode and has to find a way to defeat his evil doppelganger. The story in this Wake adventure takes a back seat as the focus was placed on action. Despite that, what story is in the game is still interesting even within the confines of an Arcade title. To make up for that, there are survival arenas in the game where you can take on wave after wave of the Taken to obtain the best score. Sure its not the Wake game I wanted, but it still manages to do a good job with what it has and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
6. Crusader Kings 2
Ever wanted to know what it was like to lead a noble family from the Medieval Ages? Well now you can with Crusader Kings 2! Enjoy as you manipulate your court to take advantage of scenarios and enlarge your domain! Wonder as you work your way through feudal politics to ensure the survival of your family! Dominate on the battlefield through carefully calculated wars! Fear as you hope your successor isnt a weak fool wholl undo all that you did! Wait, what?
Crusader Kings 2 is at its heart a noble family simulator and light RPG game. Much like Europa Univeralis, a grand-strategy game, you control your armies and can try to take over as much land as you want. Yet unlike that game, youll have to manage the courts of Medieval Europe, which can be rather complicated, yet fun in all the same sense. Crusader Kings 2 does a fantastic job at mixing battle and intrigue while offering many different starting scenarios, such as beginning as a high Emperor or King or starting as a lowly Duke. Mixed in are the light RPG elements that can cause the odd downfall or golden period for your family as your heirs could be gifted or just plain out idiotic. Its this element that really makes the game fun and equally challenging as youre not entirely sure whats going to happen each time you move from successor to successor, all you have to do is make sure your family is alive by the end of the game, and besides, theres a Game of Thrones mod. Who doesnt want to be the Starks or Lannisters?
5. Minecraft 360
Yeah yeah, Im sure plenty of people have heard this story before. I was always one of those guys who looked at Minecraft and wondered why I would even want to play this game. Theres nothing to do. Then it got released on the 360 and lo and behold I wondered what it would really be like. Queue a game night with Chiknfeet and CodingGenius and the fun just happened. We started at 9 at night and beheld our first night surrounded by creatures (I know theyre called mobs you nerds) trying to get at us, moving on to digging our own mines, creating a forest (which may have been a bad idea), going fishing, wondering if Chiknfeet was alright (he was spending most of the first few hours standing in place), finding diamond, and finally making a portal. To give a brief summary, we only stopped when CG announced she had a plane to catch in a few hours about six hours after we started. So yes, this game belongs on this list.
I typically dont like stealth games. Im not particularly good at them. Im impatient and things to just happen. Why cant I shoot that guy? Why do I have to stand in the darkness for them to not see me? Cant they hear me? Why do I not have a gun? How do they always seem to see me from that far away? Dishonored thankfully comes in with a much more open approach to assassination. Set in a beautifully created world, Dishonored is at its core an assassination game. Each level has you tasked with killing or abducting a target and then getting out of the area. How you accomplish your task is completely up to you however. Want to do it stealthily without anyone knowing you were there? Sure. Want to just shoot and stab everyone instead creating a river of blood in your wake? Why the **** not? It reminds me a little bit of Hitman, but with a lot more freedom of choice, that ultimately makes it on this list.
3. FTL: Faster Than Light
Rogue-like gameplay? Check. Spaceship setting? Check. Ability to think youre as good as Jean Luc Picard in the captains chair? Check. Brutally hard yet rewarding gameplay? Double check. **** this game.
FTL is a brutally hard game where I can call the developers for being pricks half the time. Being left in charge of a lone Federation ship with key knowledge on how to stop the massive fleets of Rebels never felt so god damn hard. Its not the ship combat with all of its simple easy to pick up controls and surprisingly deep complexion on how to take out badniks that did it. Its those stupid random events that pop up every so often. Sick people on a quarantined station need help. On the way out I lose a crewmember. Healthy people report a fire on a station. Send a crewmember to help out and he dies in the fire. Arrive on a planet with giant spiders. One crewmember dies. A station is reported to have some goods on it. A crewmember dies as the stations automatic weapons suddenly turn on. You are now left with one crewmember. For those who are also wondering, I lost the fire-resistant rock member before the fire event, and lost a hacking engi member before the station event. These events all happened in sequence one right after the other in the same sector. With nothing but a stunned expression on my face as I looked on at my lone member, I looked at the game, gritted my teeth, and said bring it. I actually made it two more sectors before I realized I should have upgraded the doors while in Mantis space.
Despite the series of unfortunate events minus Jim Carrey I couldnt stop playing this game. Even with the difficulty being the way that it is and with the possibility of random events turning out horribly, it was a definite joy to make it far into the game as well as complete the in game challenges. 2. XCOM Enemy Unknown
Hey its XCOM! Bet you didnt see this one coming. >_>
Secret fact about me, I actually played the original on DOS at a friends house when I was a wee little boy. That experience stuck with me since and now that Sid Meier is on the case of reviving the series, I can say that Enemy Unknown is fantastic. The strategic depth the game has to offer kept me coming back for more turns so much that I actually had to put the game down to be able to complete my college studies. As a rule, any strategy game that is turn-based and has Sid Meiers name attached to it is going to be a winner.
Out of all of the games that I played this past year, I can firmly say that Spelunky is the only one of them that gave me the most joy. Spelunky is a platforming game that challenges you with grabbing treasure at the end of the mines you enter. Sadly, this game is far from a walk in the park. Spelunky is one of the more challenging games out there, where I actually dont mind dying over and over again. Its one of those games thats designed to let you know how and why you died, mostly due to you doing a pretty poor job. Every threat in the game is laid out in full and it doesnt take long to recognize how to get past them all once first encountered. When you add in the rogue-like ever changing layout element, it makes this game rather hard, but not in a bad way. Sure there are a few times where the game can screw you, but you are always capable of making it past each and every obstacle. Its this sort of simplicity that made it all the more fun, especially when certain things in the game happen in exact ways to create a perfect disaster for what was a great run. Im still smiling over the time I made it to the Temple with everything I need to reach the City of Gold for the first time when I inexplicably died due to a Croc-Man teleporting into me a second later. Sure you can blame the developers on that. I dont as for that to happen it took an unbelievably low probability of happening, unlike the random events in FTL (which are closer to 50/50 if you dont have the correct alien race as a crew).
In short, for being gosh darn hard and at the same time making me smile, Spelunky earns the top game of 2012 from me. This decision was in no part influenced by Giantbombs quick look of the game, which actually caused me to purchase the game. Just pure blissful fun.
26Jan 13I was watching the GS_AU twitch stream and I managed to enjoy myself. The stream focused on playing Sega Bass Fishing while at the same time the Aussie crew talked about violence in video games, a serious subject I might add, which made the whole experience slightly odd and yet so relaxing. I guess that's the power of fishing that can only be found in Sega Bass Fishing.
Anyway, my girlfriend called asking me to pick her up and to grab a Subway sandwich, upon which we returned to my apartment where I still had the stream going on. She asked what I was watching as she unfurled her six-inch sandwich and after a few minutes, she was delightfully into what was going on screen, stating that it was strangely relaxing, and proceeded to make her voice known in the chat. We almost forgot the fact that we were going to go bowling that night. So GS_AU, you have yourselves another fan.
Bowling came and went with two games, both of which I managed to win with the fantastic scores of 101 and 112 to 71 and 92 respectively. I'm such a beast at bowling. Bring it. The bowling lane also slightly shut down before my girlfriend could exactly finish her tenth and final frame. Instead of letting the attendants know, we sort of just walked away and laid our eyes on the air hockey table. Air hockey, for those who don't know, is serious business. Needless to say, we were sweating just a little bit from our exertion. An exertion that may have broken the table. Let's just say that the table decided to eat the pucks I scored on her until there were no pucks left. I'm not sure if hitting the puck hard caused it or if there was something else going on. Either way, we may have broken the air hockey table as well. Go us.
23Jan 13So I managed to check out the Hobbit not too long ago in the theater. It did take me some time I'll admit.
After watching the three-hour epic, I wasn't exactly sure on how I felt about the movie. I knew I liked it, yet the film felt weird. I'm not sure on the exact reason, but I believe it was the flow. It felt off. Of course, The Hobbit is a much different book than that of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit was J.R. Tolkien's first novel that was targeted for kids. As such, the events in the book detail simple challenges that are encountered and surpassed within each chapter. That being, it wasn't exactly the best material to turn into a three-part movie trilogy. Although, I do like what Jackson and company have done in terms of adding in more back story to the main trilogy by picking through the expanded works of Tolkien from The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales. It makes the proposed trilogy much more than it should in a good way, or at least that's what I think.
Getting back to the movie at hand, An Unexpected Journey takes a little while to get going and once it does, it becomes immediately clear that something's just a little off. I believe this first started when the dwarves started showing up. A few look like normal human beings, like that of the brooding Thorin, while others look like they were plucked from the pages of a Disney movie with their over-sized heads and fanciful almost cartoonish beards. The next couples of scenes then depict a pair of songs. The first a happy-mischievous song the dwarves sing about Bilbo's annoyance while the second a much more somber depressing ballad about their lost home the Lonely Mountain. It's this sort of dichotomy within the film the moves from one scene to the next - a light hearted scene followed by a serious moment with the Lord of the Rings epic music pumping in the background. It's a weird experience and one that I think Jackson and company weren't exactly sure on what kind of movie they wanted to make, a much more family friendly one like that from the source material or one that matched their masterful earlier work with Tolkien. Again, I'm not saying this is entirely a bad thing. I still enjoyed the movie overall.
The acting is spot on with props going out to Martin Freeman, who played Bilbo. The action is pretty standard. It's what you'd expect if you've seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy and other action films. Where the film really shines is the battle of wits between Bilbo and Gollum. Being able to see Andy Serkis work his magic again is still amazing. Not to mention seeing all of the familiar faces that show up is still great. I guess you could say I felt a good sense of nostalgia being able to see another adventure into Tolkien's rich world.
Getting down to the point, The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey is an interesting beast, one that suffered a little at the hands of its creators who didn't seem to be exactly sure on what kind of movie they wanted to make, and outside of taking a really long time to get the journey going, unexpected or not, it's an enjoyable tromp through Tolkien's Middle-Earth.
14Jan 13So I took the weekend off, as though I'm actually doing work or anything important, and went down south to Carmel to attend what was the last time the entire family got together at my Grandmother's log cabin by the beach. Unfortunately we'll have to sell the cabin, as having to keep it would cost us annually over $25 grand in taxes alone. So we enjoyed it and had a blast seeing everyone again while at the same time making plans to set up dates to head off to the various locales where everyone lives for events in the future.
Whenever my family gets together, a large amount of shenanigans always ensues, especially between my cousin's wife and I, who seem to have been twins separated at birth. The battle started when I picked them up at the airport on Friday and managed to blow over to other members of the family culminating with the best quote directed at my sister.
Now my family isn't the tallest, but the average height of everyone there, including women and men, is about 5'8", with the men being a little taller closing in on 6' even. My sister, sadly, never quite inherited the tall genes. Needless to say, she's the shortest adult at every get together.
As Saturday was about to end, the day where the reunion happened, my cousin's wife managed to refer to my sister as the "Pocket Cousin." That got everyone laughing, except for my sister who seemed to shrink as she meekly said she wasn't the pocket cousin. She took it in stride though, and knows that we're going to hit her with it for quite some time now.
5Jan 13"Okay. You can have whatever you want from the Sprint store. I'll be there a little later on once I get an errand done first."
Yagr nodded to his father and took off towards the nearby Sprint store. It was about time he was going to be getting a new phone. Everyone at school had been commenting on how old fashioned his current phone was. It was true that he couldn't check his email or watch youtube videos on his phone, let alone be able to access the internet with a speed like that of an old dial-up connection. Thankfully, his father's upgrade had come in, meaning he could get a new phone for a considerable discount. The problem was, he had no idea what phone he wanted.
The Sprint store was a quick five minute drive away and after conversing with a employee who thought Yagr was looking for recycle services when he showed the man his current phone, he went about browsing the current selection. An iPhone sounded like a good idea. So did the Samsung Galaxy and the HTC. He ignored the other phone-looking phones, such as the variety of Nextel walkie-talkies and the old fashioned flip phones and blackberries. Who uses a blackberry anyway? There's no key guard and he had had enough of butt dialing people.
After a short while, he decided on the Galaxy Note. The female sales rep grabbed the phone/mini-tablet and protective shell, and they started chatting while waiting for Yagr's father to show up. The rep was equally surprised to see how pristine a condition Yagr's current phone was in.
Yagr's father arrived shortly thereafter and after suggesting Yagr pick up a Bluetooth headset, they got to discussing if Yagr had everything.
"Okay, is there anything else you need?" Yagr's father asked taking out his wallet.
"Yes," Yagr said his eyes lighting up. "I'd like to purchase her."
"What?" the female employee said surprised.
"Yeah, I'd like to add her to my purchase," Yagr said.
"Okay. How much are you?" Yagr's father asked turning towards the employee.
"Wait. What? No. I'm not-" the employee stammered.
"Ten thousand?" Yagr said grinning.
"What? Twenty, but-"
"Twenty. There," Yagr said slapping his father's shoulder.
"But you can't buy me," the employee protested.
"Ah, but you see this guy said I could get anything I wanted," Yagr explained.
"He's got a point," Yagr's father said handing the woman his credit card. "I did say that."
"Bu-but," the woman swiped the card. "How do you have that high of a credit limit? And more importantly why did I enter that into the system?"
"I'll pick you up later on," Yagr said winking at the woman.
The woman watched as the customers left. "Why does that happen all the time?"
My dad and I are such stinkers.
28Dec 12So Christmas came and went by rather quickly. I managed to avoid any last second present shopping and got my family some nice gifts, such as a satellite radio, shoes, and a Colts jersey for my dad, mother, and sister respectively, along with some Star Wars bobble heads because why not? I'm currently enjoying my Bose headphones that I asked for and my sister was good enough to grab the entire first season of Game of Thrones on blu-ray. Not a bad haul. Then there were the legos my parents keep giving me that somehow manages to distract me from whatever I'm doing for hours on end. Damn you parents!
But enough about what my family did, let's get to the cat pictures.
So we found out rather quickly the kitten loves to play in the wrapping paper. So we threw all of our paper onto the floor for him to frolic in.
These were great pictures so why not share them here?
Lastly, here's my roommate. She's not very photogenic unlike the kitten due to her persistence to be pet all the damn time whenever someone gets close.
24Dec 12Fishing for her keys, Morgan quickly unlocked the door and entered the boy's house, grateful to be in the warmth.
"Damn it! I can't find a game that starts with the letter Z," JD shouted in frustration.
"I did and I'm not telling," Warren said with a grin on his face.
"My kingdom for a game that starts with Q," Yagr lamented.
Morgan stood at the doorway unsure of what was going on. Yagr, JD, and Warren all were sitting in the living room completely engaged on their laptop screens.
"They're conducting the first annual alphabet steam challenge," Paul said from her side.
"They're... What?" Morgan said.
"Every Christmas, steam puts on a sale where practically all of their games are at least half off. So this year, those three decided to see if they can buy a game from each letter of the alphabet," Paul said.
Warren shook his fist in triumph. "Got a V."
"They have ten minutes left," Paul added.
The two of them made their way to the kitchen where Christmas dinner was being prepared. Paul took a look at the clock and nodded. "Time!" he shouted.
"Damn it!" JD said getting up and throwing up his hands. "There are no games that start with Z."
"I think I got it all," Warren said.
"I just managed to get that Nancy Drew game," Yagr said. "I think I have all 26."
"You gonna play that Nancy Drew game?" Paul asked.
"Y-you bet your ass I will. Nothing better than Nancy Drew," Yagr said albeit not very convincingly.
"Well that's your game to play today," Paul said. He turned before he could see Yagr's seething glare.
"You really enjoy this don't you?" Morgan said.
"I got to be ref because I won last year's challenge," Paul said. "Don't you dare say anything about that."
This is so what I didn't just do regarding this year's Steam sale. Don't you dare look into my owned games list for those who have added me on Steam. >_>
17Dec 12So I had my Master's Defense today. The most important part of my graduate career.
For those who don't know, a master's defense is done in three phases. The first is the 30 minute presentation covering the entire project. The second is the question and answer session with your advisor and committee. This part is key as it gives the committee, who is in charge of whether or not you pass or fail, more information and a chance to test your knowledge. Finally, you're excused from the room to allow the committee time to deliberate on their decision.
I got up at 8:00 AM today after only barely 4 hours of sleep. I just managed to finish my presentation at 4 in the morning after receiving some last second edits from my professor. Worried about and tried to go through my presentation in my head as I ate breakfast and made my way over to the engineering building.
The presentation itself went rather quickly, even though I covered the entire 30 minute block. The questions were okay and I thought I did a good job, then I was asked to walk outside. That was the most harrowing part, just waiting outside while the two members of my committee debated on whether or not I passed and could graduate.
It only took about five minutes when they asked me to come back inside.
I passed. ****ing yes! I can graduate and not have to worry about the stupid project anymore. Now I'm going to drink and not care about the rest of the night.
3Dec 12This isn't a happy blog. This past Friday my 92 year-old grandmother passed away. While it's not supposed to be terribly shocking for someone of that age to pass away, it was considering that we had just seen her just five days ago for Thanksgiving and she looked great. For those who don't know, my grandmother lives on her own in the small town of Carmel, CA in a log cabin by the beach. She refused to ever be let into a retirement home and that fire, and somewhat stubborness, was what characterized her. She was a very unique person who didn't let much of anything to get in her way. Hell, she was climbing up onto her roof to clean the gutters when she was 88. She only did that after my Dad's brother and cousin stole her ladder in the middle of the night to stop her from doing physical chores. She became a great-grandmother three years ago when finally one of us grandchildren (there are four of us) finally had a kid. It's not every day someone becomes a great-grandparent.
She did have a few heart problems a few years ago and it was these problems that got her. Whether it was a heart attack or just her heart failing, she passed away in a manner that defied her, if that makes sense. She was a wonderful person and I'm glad to have gotten to know her for so long.