Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Zombies, Kill Streaks and Matche Types! OH MY!

Halloween approaches and soon the door bell will be ringing non-stop with children screeching "Trick Or Treat!" dressed as vampires, Iron Man and Loonette the clown.  With preparations still needing to be done, such as the carving of the pumpkin, putting the final touches on the decorations outside and the making of candy bags, I cannot stop thinking about the more important subject at hand.  In 13 days Call of Duty: Blacks Ops will be released to the world and I will be as giddy as a can be.

Not only will there be a new story line to play out and new zombies to kill on new maps.  Both players with online accounts can rank-up while playing split-screen on the same console.  That is Awesome.  I have wanted this ever since I went to Montreal last spring and could not use my own account to play Modern Warfare 2 with my brothers.   But this is only available on only for Xbox 360 version.  PS3 and Wii console owner will be left out in the rain.

The game customization is even more epic.  You can program the Time Limit and Score Limit, or as deep as which weapons, Perks, and gear is available.  You want a Pistols Only match?  Make one!  No longer do custom game modes rely on trusting that my brothers are not going to cheat.  He always does, sooner or later.  I am not going to name names.  You know who you are brother.

They also announced that there will be co-op missions that you can play online.  Way better than the Special Ops that they had with MW2 and hopefully it will take more than 4 hours to finish the whole schlemiel.

They also have new online match types.  The Wager matches are where you bet a certain amount of COD Points before the round starts and you cycle through the weapons.  Start out with a basic pistol. After every kill, you get a better weapon. Kill someone with the pistol and you’ll be pulling out the shotgun. Plug the enemy with that and you’re whipping out the SMG. From there, the weapons only get better. Get shanked and you’re set back one tier. Get through all 20 tiers first and you're in the money.  The other Wager type game is where everyone starts with the same randomly selected weapon, and only that weapon. The chosen weapon for everyone cycles after fixed amounts of time. It could be every 20 seconds or every 45; we do not know the specifiable amounts. Each kill earns you a perk, and stringing kills earns you a score multiplier. Die and you lose both.  I am not a very good player nor am I great a gambling.  On the blue moon I might take 40$ and go to the casino.  If I start making huge money while playing black jack or on the slots I usually cash out and head to the cashier so she can convert my chips into money and then I am ready to go home with my pockets now bulging with the 40$ I started with and the 40 or 60 dollars I won.  So I am not too sure how often I will play that style of game but it is definitely something worth trying out.  Maybe if the stakes are low enough or if I somehow become an 31337(elite) player, so not anytime soon.

The other exciting aspect of this new game is the kill streaks.  There is going to be an RC car available after 3 kills.  This RC car has a pound of C4 on the back of it as well as a camera and a micro phone so you can track down your enemy from a safe distance and turn him into rat food.  Napalm is another kill streak that you can call in after 5 kills. Choose a target and direction on the map and a fighter jet will fly by dropping a load of hot napalm right on the target area.  Not only will it take out anyone unlucky enough to get caught in the blast, but the napalm will also continue to burn, incinerating anyone foolish enough to get too close.  This will be perfect on objective type game modes where you can protect an area temporarily while your either being over run or you are planning on overrunning them.  There a few more kill streaks out there.  I just do not know what they are yet, but i do know that the kills you get from your kill streaks do not add towards your next kill streak.  Meaning; you get 3 kills which gives you the RC car.  You drive that around and kill 2 people with the RC car.  You do not suddenly acquire the Napalm strike.  You will still have to go out and get those kills yourself. 

All these new things coming out under one tittle is exciting.  Add in the customizations you can do with you guns and face paints.  OH! BOY! OH! BOY!  I am counting down the days.  Look forward to seeing you on the battle field.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Wrong Number

Ever had a phone number that was close to a popular business and you end up getting the odd call from people who miss read the number, miss a button on their phone or who just didn't really pay attention when dialing?  Our home phone number similar but I would never have thought it was that close.  Our number would be "555-9999" and Walmart's number would be "577-9999".  Not too close but close enough to confuse some people.

It comes in waves.  We could go for months without a wrong number, then all of the sudden we are getting 8 calls a week.  This week because of the winter roll out, phone calls are coming in droves.  Most people are polite and apologetic.  But you get the odd cretin, who has the manners or a koala bear.  I had one person call today, as soon as I said hello they asked me if this were the automotive department.  I said not it is not the automotive department.  Right away they go off on me telling me to transfer them to the automotive department then and why is this number listed as the automotive department when it isn't.  I replied that this is not the automotive department because this is a private residence.  He then repeated the number he thought he had dialed and I told him the number he had dialed and he gave me a rude fine whatever.  I politely proceeded to tell him that next time he should check the number before he dials and that he should check the attitude with it then promptly hung up. 

This obtuse customer called and told me to transfer them to the electronics department before I even had the chance to say hello.  I told them plainly no I would not transfer them.  This guy then gets real snippy with me and tells me to get my manager on the line right now.  I calmly told him that i was unable to do so because my wife was not home at this time.  He hung up.

My favorite was this one woman who called asking for the Walmart pharmacy.  I politely told her that she had the wrong number.  She meekly apologized and hung up.  5 minutes later the phone rings and the same woman asks for the Walmart pharmacy, I again told her she had the wrong number, this time i went the extra mile and gave her the correct number to dial.  She apologized again, thanked me and hung up.  5 minutes later the same woman's number shows up on my caller id.  I answer the phone changing the tone of my voice and cheerily exclaiming "Walmart pharmacy! How may I help you?"  I took her order and told her that it should be ready for pick up in an hour.

I now have an understanding of what the people who work the phones at Walmart go through everyday.  People are telephone tough guys and feel that they can treat the person on the other end of the phone as if they owe them something instead of treating people with respect.  To get respect you must show respect.  I read an article at one time telling me that Walmart customers are the worst customers in the retail industry.  I believe it.  I also believe that there is a bunch of them who are not the sharpest knives in the drawer either. 

Monday, 18 October 2010

She's a comedian

Austin 1 month old in his Bouncer

Our family was having a nice lazy day inside.  Austin was cooing and kicking comfortably in his colorful bouncer with oscillator set to maximum.  Meanwhile my daughter Erika, my wife and myself were playing with a variety of toys.  All around an awesome time together.

Erika loves her plastic food, a wonderful gift from my sister in law.  It has an assortment of fruit, vegetables, canned goods, cereals and condiments.  I am uncertain of the exact number of pieces this particular play food set came with, due to several stragglers who keep disappearing and re-emerging in different parts of the house, but I would put the count at 500 or 70 give or take a couple.  I think we did something to my sister in law to make her mad at us.

Erika also loves books, there is this one book in particular, a Thomas the Train book.  It is fairly large, about 2 feet by 1 foot with a musical keyboard on the side of it.  Erika was encouraging me to juggle 2 plastic eggs and a plastic apple.  Juggling 3 items is at the very limit of my skill.  Erika accidentally steps on her Thomas the Train book.  I see this and tell Erika; "Be careful sweetheart that is a nice book and you do not want wreck it."  Erika stepped off the book then she gave me this sideways glance with a hint of a smile that reeks of defiance.  Making sure that she had full eye contact with me she proceeded to step back down on her Thomas the Train book.  I briskly got up from my juggling spot, walked up to Erika and took her book and said; " If you are not going to take care of it, I am going to take it away."  I then walked into the entranceway and place it in the closet to be retrieved at a later time.

My wife told me later, that when I had left the room Erika had this look as though she was going to cry.  She never did.

One of Erika's looks of contempt
I return to the living room and sat back down on the floor, the whole while my daughter was looking at me with this look of total contempt on her face.  Erika then casually walked over to where I was sitting, all the while keeping the same look of disapproval.  She stopped directly in front of me calmly raised her arm and simply bonked me on the head, and then she just started laughing it up.  I couldn't help but smile.  To be quite honest she did a good job at confusing me, because I had been expecting Erika to lash out for having taken her book, but I did not see this coming.  All I hear from my wife is quiet snorting and gasping, because she had turned to face the wall trying to stem her laughter.

It is times like these that make it all worth while.  2 days later and it still makes me chuckle.

P.S. 22 days until my attack dogs are munching on my brothers behind.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

OUch Goes The Heart

Erika driving to school.
My daughter Erika has always been a "Daddy's Girl".  Her mom walks into the room and Erika just causally says "hi mama.", and continues on with whatever project she has on the go.  But when I walk into the room, look out.  She screams "DADDY!!!"  And she comes barreling towards me as if she were a stampeding buffalo.  I barely get enough time to drop my keys and work bag so I can catch her in my arms and receive the hug that makes all the daily woes just disappear into the fog of war.  That is why I always take my boots off outside before I enter the house.  When she asks us to play building blocks with her, my wife will offer up her services and Erika will shout"NO Mama!  Daddy!" I can hear a thunderous CRACK as tho a large piece of a giant glacier had broken off.  My wife gives me a downtrodden look and I try my darnedest not to smile, but inside I am beaming like a super hero who had just stopped a bus full of school children from hurdling off a cliff. 

  The other day we were playing again in the living room as a family.  Erika and her mom were playing with her plastic food.  Erika picks up a pop can and starts saying Pepsi, which so happens that the diet version is my drink of choice.  She repeats Pepsi a few more times and her mom suggests that she share her Pepsi with Daddy instead of Mommy.  Erika rolled her eyes and sighed.  The thunderous cracking noise I had hear so many times before, was now emanating from my chest cavity.  The tables have turned and  I am not liking it.  Something has changed in our family dynamic to have caused Erika to choose her mom over myself and I have to find out what it is and fix it before there's nothing left of my heart to break. 

Erika having fun at the park

She has been shunning me for 3 days now.  I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I did to cause this rift between us.  Meanwhile my wife has been relishing every moment and teasing me without abandon.  I can take the teasing with a smile and an alligator tear.  I commiserate the fact that she is 2 and trying to figure things out and will change her mind yet again somewhere down the road.  I hope it is sooner than later.  Even if it is later I will always lover her with all that is left of my disintegrating heart.   I knew parent hood would be a tough job but I did not realize how heart wrenching the little things would be.  And this is just the start of it all.

Austin in one of his a formula induced coma

On a lighter side, we have discovered that Austin does like to be swaddled.  It originally upset him to no end when we would encase him in a tightly wrapped cocoon, but the other day his constant fussiness had caused us to reassess and try things that didn't work beforehand.  Now when he starts to fuss and squirm and we know he has clean diaper, a belly full of formula and all the burps ousted out of that little body of his. We simply swaddle him up nice and tight and the minute we tuck the last corner of the blanket in, his eyes close and he lets out a big yawn and promptly drifts off and sleeps for a glorious 5 to 6 hours straight.  The hellish nights have temporarily come to an end.  Trust me I am not going to kid myself into thinking that this is the end of all future sleepless nights.  But for now we are celebrating with sleep and hopefully more sleep.  I want to be drunk with sleep till sleep cannot be slept anymore.

P.S. 27 more days till i get to fire a crossbow with  C4 tipped arrowheads. :D

Friday, 8 October 2010

His Turn Will Come.

To play or to sleep.  That is the infernal question.  As of late my little guy Austin, who is now 3 weeks old has took it upon himself to insure that neither of his parents are allowed to sleep at night.  The times where it looks as tho he has passed out into a formula induced coma,  we hike him upstairs in his laundry basket/bed and place him in his room hoping to get a few hours sleep before the next feeding.  Alas that chance never comes.  Seems that he has a security system that notifies him the moment our breathing starts to show signs that we may be falling asleep.  His fussiness has no end in sight unless you plan on staying awake, then he sleeps quite well.  ARG!!!!

  I am going to answer the question that is budding in the back of your mind.  Yes we use a laundry basket as his bed for now.  It makes carrying Austin up and down the stairs seamless, aside from the slight jostling from us ascending or descending the stairs. Don't get me wrong, we have a nice expensive crib in his room and a playpen downstairs in the living room.  We simply place the laundry basket inside the playpen and on the floor.  Austin doesn't mind it one bit, If anything he sleeps better in the laundry basket than anywhere else.

  With just myself and fussy gussy in the living room at 1 or 4 AM, I often contemplate the idea of turning on my Xbox 360.  That moment lasts about 5 minutes.  The 5 minutes it takes for me to dig out my wireless headphones and controller, then setup the transmitter for the headphones and get the computer ready to record some game-play.  Then Austin figures out what I am trying to accomplish and starts his crying engine.

  Don't get me wrong.  I know that these hellish nights will end soon enough.  Been there, done that, my daughter Erika puked on the t-shirts.  But what your memories tell you of those nights were like in the past for some horrifying reason never coincide with the actual events.  Sadly, you do not become aware how much your memory has buffered those events until it has become too late. You no longer have time to prepare mentally or to wrap your head around the fact that 5 hours of sleep in a row is nothing but a long lost friend who took it upon themselves to block your phone number and emails.

Erika 2 days old

The most frustrating part of this whole situation is the low down dirty lies.  Everyone, including our doctor told us that the second child would be completely different from the first one.  Night and day they said.  Erika was 10 days over due.  Ditto for Austin, 10 days over due.  Erika had colic for the first 2 months.  We are on our first month of colic so far with Austin.  Austin pretty well looks exactly like Erika did at that age, except for the hair.  Austin has way more hair.  I can only surmise that in today's society with all our technology and science, that no one has a clue.  They can only make guesses in hopes that they luck out and tell you "SEE!", or they tell you "WHOOPSY!  Didn't see that coming" in a mocking voice when it does work out.

Austin 1 day old

I can only hope that soon these sleepless nights and restless days will be behind us.  We will look back 25 to 35 years from now when our daughter or son are going through hopefully the very same torment and I will be able to give them these words of wisdom;"HA HA!"

Monday, 4 October 2010

What are people Thinking?

 Click here to read the original article 

A quote from the subject article; 
"Obion County, Tennessee. In this rural section of Tennessee, Gene Cranick’s home caught on fire. As the Cranicks fled their home, their neighbors alerted the county’s firefighters, who soon arrived at the scene. Yet when the firefighters arrived, they refused to put out the fire, saying that the family failed to pay the annual subscription fee to the fire department. Because the county’s fire services for rural residences is based on household subscription fees, the firefighters, fully equipped to help the Cranicks, stood by and watched as the home burned to the ground."

I may not agree with the execution of the counties policy, but I do agree with their reasoning.  How their program failed is that they should have put the fire out and then sent the home owner a bill;  12 man fire team at 30$ an hour, a minimum of 3 hours.  Truck rentals at 10,000$ each.  Finally a 25,000$ ticket for not having paid the yearly fee and having the audacity of still causing a fire.

You hear about similar issues all the time.  You see an apartment fire on the news where they interview these people who have lost everything.  I feel for them.  It sucks to lose all your worldly possessions.  Then they add that they didn't have any sort of insurance and complain that they will not be able to recover from this.


Then the news station asks for donations to help these poor people who did not have the foresight to have renters insurance.

For a measly 340$ a year you can have all your possessions replaced as well as have the security of knowing that if you screw up and flood the building or burn it down, you will not have to pay for the damages because your insurance will. 

I digress.  What the fire department did to the Cranick family by letting the house burn down because the guy didn't pay the 75$ is disgusting.  But this man who refused to pay the optional tax is no less innocent of this whole debacle.  Would you honestly opt out of any type of protection?  It isn't like the people who choose to not have the signal lights installed on their car.  It would be similar to not having the seat belt, air bags and reinforced frame installed in your new vehicle so you can save on the purchase price.  Sounds idiotic doesn't it.  Well it does to me.  So does not paying 75$ a year for fire protection.

I pay 30$ a month for my alarm system, which provides smoke detection and break in protection.  I am going to pay the extra 75$ a year so that I can sleep at night knowing that if in that time of need, a firefighter is going to save my family and possibly save my house.  It should be interesting seeing how Mr Cranick is going to explain to his insurance company why the house burnt to the ground instead of just having major smoke damage.  This guy screwed himself.  He saved 75$, but I am pretty sure it will end up costing him close to 200,000$ if not more.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Can Hardly Wait

As I count down the days for the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, I begin to anticipate the rush I will feel playing something new and exciting.  Preparing myself to be wowed by the newer and better graphics.   I get a tingle in my belly as I consider the new storylines with its possible twists and turns it will take me.  I giggle inside when I think of the array of new weapons I will be able to decimate my enemies with.  I look forward to playing to co-op version with my brothers and I most definitely look forward to shooting them with the ballistic knife in the new online game types.  The Anticipation is damn near killing me.  But I fear the one thing that always lingers in the back of my mind.  Are my expectations going to ruin the game for me?

Suzanne Somers
Quite some time ago I remember when the movie “The Fifth Element” had come out to theaters.  They were calling it the next Star Wars, only better.  I bought into the hype and expected to be wowed out of my britches.  Because I had listened to the adulations and expected so much, I actually found the movie to be one the worst movies I had ever seen.  Scantily clad Mila Jovovich saved it from being the absolute worst.  Several years later I was lying on my living room couch sick as a dog on a Sunday afternoon and there was nothing on TV.  Well nothing except for “The Fifth Element” and infomercials.  It was a toss up between the thigh master infomercial with Suzanne Somers or the scantily clad Mila Jovovich.  Mila won by a close margin.  I watched The Fifth Element again. This time I was expecting to be disappointed and because I expected nothing, I was pleasantly surprised.  The movie was quirky with its views of what the future had in store for us, but that made it fun and entertaining.  It was by no means the next Star Wars, but it was most certainly a movie worth watching.  I would most definitely recommend it to my friends.  If it happens to be on and there is nothing else to watch, I would watch it again.

Milla Jovovich

Now with all that being said.  I fear that I have built up my own set of expectations with the up and coming Black Ops Game.  After reading all the reviews and having watched every preview video on YouTube I could find.  I have a hard time believing that my assumptions will not be met, even though I have them set pretty high.  I have 36 days to dampen my expectations so that I can still enjoy the game if they do not manage to reach the goals they have leaked.  I just wish the butterflies in my stomach would go away.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

People... Sigh...

There are times when you wonder about the people around you;

The other day I was driving home from work and I see a woman in an older model car broken down on a main road during the height of traffic.  I was quite vexed at the situation.  I wanted to stop and help but I had started work early that morning and did not get to spend a lot of time with my family,  in particular my daughter whose bed time was quickly closing in.  As I waited for the light to change, I considering whether to pull into the parking lot a head of me, walk back and help this person get their car off the road,  or do I just tell myself; "I do not have time", and hope that someone else will come along and help out.  The sad part was that I actually struggled with this, and if the light hadn't of taken forever I probably would have kept on going.  I then had a vision of my wife being stranded somewhere and I would hope that someone would have enough decency to stop and help her out.

So needless to say I pulled into the parking lot, parked my truck and headed towards the broken down car.  I get to the passenger side window and look in.  She is talking on her cell phone and has either failed to notice my presence or chosen to ignore me.  I proceed to knock on her window getting ready to ask if she would like me to help push her car into the parking lot.  She fails to acknowledge me and I am getting a little miffed.  So I knock on her window again and I follow this with "HELLO!"  She takes the time to move the phone to her other ear and give me the irritated wait your turn look with a bonus Index Finger point.  I stood there for a couple of seconds in shock.  This phone conversation was so important that she could not ask the person to whom she was talking with to hold on for a second, or maybe even call them back so that she could assist me in getting her jalopy off the road.  That she could stop inconveniencing the by now over 100 people including myself.  I took time out of my day to try and help this obviously self involved individual.  All I managed to accomplish was to receive a finger wagging from a real winner and many confused looks from passerby's as I walked back to my own vehicle.

 I often ponder whether I am doing enough?  I am pretty sure most of us ask ourselves these similar questions;  Do I spend enough time with my kids?  Do I do my fair share around the house?  Do I contribute enough to society?  And if you don't at some point ask yourself similar questions, then you are either a selfless saint and I raise my glass to you, or you are a real winner.

 I never stop trying to be a great dad, a terrific husband and a caring neighbor.  I hope that things work out for my kids and that when they become teenagers they don't hate me as much as people say they will, just because they are teenagers.  That my wife will always love me despite my video game addiction and my hearing deficiency that inexplicably comes and goes.  I never plan on the hearing loss it just seems to happen, sometimes for the better.  But I find it harder and harder having faith in my fellow man these days.  I truly believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Tho lately they have been proving me wrong more often than not.  I just hope I don't completely lose my sense of fellowship and become one of those people who just keeps going on about their life ignoring everything and everyone around them.  I pity anyone who has crossed that threshold.

I know I do enough for my family.  Well I am pretty sure I do enough.  The only way I can gauge whether I am doing a good job being a good person is by using my barometer.  The barometer that i use to guide all my important decisions in life.  Choices that are not always easy, where there is no clear cut right or wrong just a path to choose.  That barometer is my family.  And by the looks of it, the future is sunny and clear with just a the odd chance of hearing loss.

Monday, 27 September 2010

How it all begins

I sit here in my living room with my 2-week-old son at 2 AM attempting to quell his hunger.  He is chugging back this foul smelling formula as if it were an ice-cold beer.  How things change.

How we go from enjoying the delectable flavors of lukewarm powdered formula to the savory taste of Kilkenny at room temperature, or a deliciously ice cold Sleemans on a hot summers day.  How we go from being a full time gamer with a full time job. And now I am a part time gamer, a full time husband, a full time father of two with a full time job.   Finding the opportunity to be a gamer as of late has been to say the least quite an undertaking.

To be honest. I have not been trying very hard to get on my Xbox.  Lack of motivation due to the erratic sleeping behavior of the little guy, has made the desire of going online fade to the very back of my thoughts.  With a 2 year old running around discovering anything and everything.  A wife recovering from the 9-month beating she received from the 9.5 pound soccer player in her belie.  And myself recovering from a job related injury.  We do not like to do things half way. 

When we had my daughter 2 years ago we braved the horrid 2 months of
colic, my daughter was a trooper the poor thing and I doubt I even turned the Xbox on during that period.  Then Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 came around.  I was in line the night before the release date.  By 1 am I was playing the campaign. By 5 am I had finished the campaign and gone to bed.  I got to play quite frequently.  My wife always encouraged me to play.  She still does.  Yes I am one of the lucky few, whose wife encourages...  NAY!  Insists that I play my beloved video games.

Prestige Edition

How things have not changed.  Call of Duty:Black Ops is due out on November 9th, 2010.  I have already ordered the Prestige Edition to be delivered to my doorstep the date of release.  And Yes I do believe I will finish the campaign the very same day.  Unless my family needs me of course.

01 09 10