Thursday, October 26, 2006

Burnout: Revenge

Y'know, I don't post a whole lot about games. I do mention that I'm a gamer, but really, in order for me to post about something, it has to make a big impact. Not many games do that anymore. But that has changed recently, as I discovered Burnout: Revenge.

The first "race" I played, it wasn't about getting first in line with the other guy, there weren't even any other racers on the track. Just traffic. Rush hour traffic. The timer gives you forty seconds to wreak as much havoc on the streets (designated in property damage costs) as you can. Each time you ram another car, you get a boost in time, so you can ram more traffic. I first played that after a mean commute, and it was a magnificent release.

The next "race" was a crash. That's it. Nothing else. Your goal in this one is to run at top speed into a busy intersection and cause as much property damage as you can. You get a massive pileup pretty quickly and can rack up millions of dollars of damage (primarily because cars keep ramming the pileup, and then you can explode your car which is hopefully in the middle of the junk heap).

They do have actual races, but even though the goal is to get across the finish line first, the methods are frequently to ram the other car off the road and see him crash spectacularly in slow motion. It's also fun to bounce another car into your opponent, causing him to crash and burn in the same manner.

The locations are beautiful as well. They aren't exact depictions of actual cities, but they clearly evoke the city you're supposed to be visiting. The first one is in "Sunshine Keys," a very Miami-ish setting. The next one is "Motor City," a very Detroitesque city. I've also gone through something that completely resembles northern LA (complete with going over the Hollywood hills at speeds exceeding 100mph), a Roman-ish city and some Swiss mountain area.

No other game in recent memory has given me such sustained glee. I found myself laughing frequently, not so much because something was funny, but because it was just an insane amount of fun. Heidi even played two sessions (the beat-down-traffic one and a crash), looked over to me and said, "Great, just what I need; crack."

This is a great game for anybody who hates traffic (and who of us doesn't). Right now it's a rental, but I've already decided to save up enough to buy it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Brew #2: A Christmas Adventure!

Yesterday Mattox was over and we brewed a Christmas Ale. It was a good time to hang out and the first time we had seen Matt since the wedding. It was a bit of an adventure, though. This was the first time I brewed in the new place, and the brewing in the new environment thing seems to be an interesting experience. Schaumburg water tends to taste a bit like chlorine, so I had to buy a gallon of water and then fill that jug with filtered water, but that was a small matter. I think the biggest thing that made it an adventure was the fact that the kit was improperly packed, and didn't include hops or the right spices. The spices aren't much of an issue, the lack of hops is a pretty big one. Unfortunately, I didn't realize the hops thing until we were almost to boiling. Fortunately, there's a brew shop in Schaumburg, unfortunately they had just closed when I called. Here's where you rely on the kindness of strangers, at least strangers who brew. I explained that I was right in the middle of a brew and needed to get hops. They asked how soon I could get there, and we were off. Not only did I find the place, but it was a nice one. They had already won a new customer when they let me buy stuff after closing time, but they would have won a new customer just by being the shop that they are. Neato!

We also figured out a new heat transfer tool. I have a copper-coil "heat sink" (not sure what it's actually called) that goes into the pot for a quick heat transfer to cool the wort down after the boil, but it requires hooking it up to a nozzle, which I don't have in my kitchen (the sink doesn't have that kind of faucet). In my old place, we used this by holding the nozzle over the faucet, and that's what I expected to do for the 15-20 minute cooldown process this time. However, Matt, being the ever-resourceful guy that he is, looked around the immediate area and saw the right kind of nozzle coming off the washing machine. We managed to pull the pot over to the dryer, and started the flow, and the tube connecting to the copper coils promptly popped right off, spraying water all over the place. A little screw tightening later (combined with turning on the water a little slower), and we were transferring heat quickly, cleanly and with little fuss.

I have a good feeling about this brew. The last one was a hit with friends, and there's still plenty of it left, but I think this one is going to be even better. I'm not sure if I'll have enough bottles to do the third brew this year, but we'll see what-all comes of it.

And now, the details:
8 lbs, Ultralight Malt

8 oz, Crystal 120L
8 oz, Caravienne
4 oz, Honey Malt
2 oz, Special B
2 oz, Black Roasted

1 oz, Northern Brewer Hops (bittering)
1 oz, Willamette (aroma)

2 tsp, Cinnamon
2 tsp, Pumpkin
1 tsp, Ginger

White Labs California Ale yeast

And Whirfloc as a clarifier.

Original Gravity, approximately 1.068

Friday, October 20, 2006

Officially a Suburbanite

I like the city. I miss being in the city. Whenever I go into the city, I want to be there for a while. It's the vibe, the closeness, the depth of the place. Moving out to the suburbs was a change of pace, one that was not particularly welcome, but made a lot of sense at the time. I do love the home we've created, one that we couldn't have created in the city for twice what we're paying now, but it's in the 'burbs.

I figured I'd be able to maintain a tie to the city by staying at First Free, my church in the city. But the sense of community was difficult to maintain when I was living there, and being this far out, it would be borderline impossible. As if to say a semi-permanent "goodbye" to the city, we've officially decided to go to Willow Creek, a much more local-to-us church (and I believe it to be the largest church in the world as far a building square footage). It's a great church for creative people, but small group community is practically essential with a population greater than some towns. I'm hoping it will be less of a challenge to maintain friendships here; meh, we'll see what happens.

Fortunately, like most suburbanites, both Heidi and I like going into the city. Unfortunately, it's going to be a challenge to maintain the city-relationships I do have, as city folk tend to fear the suburbs. Two of the most adventurous people I know in the city both said, on separate occasions, "Here there be dragons" about areas pretty darn close to where I now live.

Sure, the best relationships will stay, because that what good friends do, but I expect to lose touch with a lot of people whose company I really enjoy. Admittedly, I'll be creating new relationships at the new place, but I guess I'm just not ready to let go of the old ones.

So my last real tie to the city is gone, one that I've had since I moved to the Chicago area. I'll miss it. A lot. Might as well buy an SUV now.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Back to the schedule

Yes, I know, I haven't posted anything in a while. Let me 'splain. I like being married. It's a good relationship that has developed a lot over the past month-and-a-week, and I see our lives developing into something bigger than our individual parts. The byproduct of that is that I want to spend a lot of time with my wife. This is a good thing.

However, the new TV season is upon us. Of course, Heidi and I can watch TV together, so that's good. But it does suck up a lot of time. So far, Heroes is a maybe, but this week's episode gave it a one-episode credit. Lost, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica are gimmes (Doctor Who primarily because of its history... by itself it's a good, but not great, show). Most other shows I've seen are catch them if I can. I might include The Office into the must-haves, but that will wait. In any case, that's a lot right there.

However, there's still a lot to do with the post-wedding crap. Family wants a lot of time. Friends want slightly less time. We still need to decide on our pictures (you can see a lot of them at We still need to get the house in order. We still need to do thank-you cards.

However, I'm a gamer. It's what I do. I've prayed about it, and felt God say, "No, it's cool." I need a good bout of gaming on a moderately regular basis to keep myself relaxed and sane. I can do that with friends or by myself... doesn't really matter. But that is a rather large time sink in which I'm not socializing with my wife. She's OK with it, but it's a time sink.

However, we also have little bits n pieces that suck up our time. There are movies we want to see. There are plays we want to see. There is an art show we want to hit. We want to carve a pumpkin. I want to brew some beer. We want to have parties.

All this is to say that finding time to blog is moderately low on my priority list. Work is pretty active, so I don't have a lot of time to sit and blog, and it ends up getting pushed by the wayside when I'm home, as I have other things vying for my attention.

This isn't an excuse, it's an explanation. I'll post more shortly. There's more to muse upon very soon.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Goal Update 8

Continuing on with the goal postiness, I'm going to inform you of where I am with the goals.

1. Get Married: Done
2. Move to a new place: Done
3. Get a different job: Still an active goal, but doing OK with the job I currently have.
4. Get back in the gym, and establish a regular routine: We've determined that the Schaumburg Park District has a couple gyms that, while very reasonably priced, we really wouldn't continue working out at. Still working on it.
5. Get at least one Voice-over gig: Working on it.
6. Brew at least three batches of beer: Brew #1 worked out pretty well. Two more will happen shortly. There's a brewing store here in Schaumburg that I want to check out. Otherwise, there's always
7. Travel at least four times: Done
8. Write a script: Nothing. This goal probably won't get done this year.
9. Read the Bible from beginning to end: I didn't develop the discipline like I should have. I've got way too much to read in the next few months. This goal probably won't get done, but the year ain't over yet.