Damn it, damn it, DAMN IT!

Just when I thought I’d have some quality time off because I’m out of a full time job, I started playing WOW again.

Damn you all.

In the meantime, I did manage to finish reading The Writer’s Journey, and it’s an excellent read for aspiring writer types. I’ve always had ideas for stories that starts with a critical moment – a twist or a climax, but I never knew how to go about developing the rest of the story… and the guidelines from this book makes a lot of sense. It was recommended to me back in the days when I was taking creative writing in college… not a bad recommendation at all.

Also, I managed to pick up Puzzle Quest for the DS. It’s eating up my sleeping hours like no tomorrow. Definitely not for the faint hearted though – there’s minimal sound or visual effects, but what is left is oozing with old school RPG goodness. Playing out RPG battles over a Bejeweled grid is silly, I know, but if that’s not the most addicting thing I’ve played on a hand held system, I don’t know what is.

Finally, I never knew that horseback riding would make your pelvic bones sore as hell the day after. The more you know.

Okay, okay, how about this one…

Maybe we really should cut those people who type in all caps some slack.

Maybe they’re just trying too hard to define everything they say as constants.

*chirp* *chirp*

I’ll be here all week…


I’ve also recently become a reluctant owner of a BlueShark pad by choice. Yeah, basically there’s enough bad things about this purchase that puts it below the “proud owner” line but it’s good enough to stay above the “return merchandise” line.

The long and short about the pad itself: it’s obviously build with arcade dimensions. Touts a patent-pending arcade sensor (it is pretty good). There’s a bar that comes with it (hence the two holes in the back) but it’s wobbly and something I didn’t plan to use in the first place (since I’m storing the thing under my bed). It’s about 80lbs and to move it around I had to use furniture movers (as seen in the picture) but this means the thing won’t wobble around as I play. The metal finish is only skin deep – it’s all plywood underneath the finish.

The process of getting the thing wasn’t the most happy thing in the world. When I first got the pads it didn’t come with a control box, the thing that hooks the pad to a PS2. The customer support e-mails are… lacking, and written mostly in Engrish. Even when they promised to send the missing stuff right away, the whole ordeal just feels so… flaky.

So after a whole week of no show for my missing parts, I finally got my hands on a customer service phone number (that is not posted on the official website) and got my problem resolved… in one day.

Well, the pad is really nice and solid – I can do all the fancy spins and try to challenge the 10-12 foot range without a bar, but… I ran into the whole pad miss / sensor goes dead problem. I’m not the first customer to have this… long story short, there’s a chance in the middle of playing a song where the pad just dies. No step registers. You just fail the song instantly after that if you’re playing anything resembling difficult. When it happens, it’s really not fun… when it doesn’t though, it really is a solid DDR platform that rivals the arcade one.

So yeah, definitely not recommended for you to get one, especially if you bother to check the price tag, which I’ll not list here…

Overexpensive meals and the redemption thereof… no success so far

Over the next few posts I’ll be backlogging amusing things that had happened over the past two months. I was buried in work, and everything was a blur… but at the same time I took two business trips to San Francisco – that’s two more than the amount of times I left home last year.

The first trip back in March was for GDC – it was much, much less useful than I thought it would be, even after sneaking into all those workshops that I shouldn’t have gone to (i.e. my badge doesn’t cover those sessions).

The second trip was in early April, where we’re suppose to go to the Web 2.0 conference. Things backfired – we had an exhibit hall pass and the hall wasn’t opening until the day after we leave. But that’s still not the point. During this second trip to San Francisco, I’ve managed to break my personal record for most expensive dinner not once… but twice.

The first one was over at fisherman’s wharf. The sun was setting and we were getting hungry, and not wanting to settle for street vendor food, we went into a restaurant – any restaurant – and waited 45 minutes in order to get in. It was located on the second story and it directly overlooks the harbor, but the price tag for dinner? 45 bucks including tax and tips, and this is considering that I ordered the cheapest thing that is not a salad on the menu – fresh clams over spaghetti, with a simple red sauce.

Then the day after, we break the record at a steakhouse in the heart of downtown SF. Order? One lobster tail. The price tag when the dust settles? 80 dollars.

You know, back in the days when I started hitting places like Claim Jumpers, I felt pretty uncomfortable paying 30 dollars or more for a meal, but I eventually settled down to it – for a good time, it was worth my money. But yeah, these two meals… they’re not that great. So now, in order to redeem myself, I’m going to find ways to cook the same meal on the cheap. My philosophy on the matter goes like this: If I eat the same meal enough times at a fraction of the cost, I’d balance out the amount of money I blew on the initial meal.

So, experimentation time! The spaghetti dinner was a total ripoff, with a list of ingredients that I can count on a single hand. So for my cheap knockoff I tried to use some extremely trashy ingredients:

1 lb of cheap spaghetti $1.50 give or take
2 cans of baby clams $6.00 total
1 jar of Prego $3.50
1 bag of assorted frozen
seafood (for more flavors) $2.00

The total comes to $13, and I served myself over 4 meals so that makes the cost per meal $3.25. The result? Ur… kinda suck. The baby clams are so small that they all kind of turn to mush when it’s cooked, and Prego’s tomato flavor is way too strong… and the result, while bearable, is really not compensating for that horribly expensive meal.

I’ll probably try the following formula next week:

1 lb of cheap spaghetti,
1 pack of fresh frozen clam meat,
1 can of diced tomato,
1 pack of mushrooms because mushrooms are so damn good, and
1 onion for some flavoring in the sauce.

Wish me luck.