The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

Personal Ramblings of the Techhouse Admin

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New Business

24 January, 2009 (11:26) | Family, Gaming, Life In General, Lynn, Mike, Railroad, Violin, Volleyball | By: Brian

“Do we have any new business?” Yes! In the last half year I’ve picked up some new hobbies. I’m sure some old ones have fallen off, but that’s life as an adult with ADD, right? Ooooh, shiny!

I think the biggest new news is the acquiring of my new roommate, Mike. My old roommate, Dan, decided that he wanted to go back to grad school. Which is something I’ve been telling him for ever, anyway. So I was very happy for him, and proud of him, too. Unfortunately, he wants to go to school in Baltimore, and before he gets in there he needed to take some basic courses and GRE stuff. So he told me that he wanted to move home to NY with his folks for a while, take a couple of courses at a local community thing there and then move to where ever he ends up deciding to do grad school. I put out the call for a new roommate, and within two weeks found a friend of a friend who needed a place and things have worked out great since then. Mike is a terrific guy who’s nice, smart, funny and great to live with. We get along great and do a ton of stuff together, but are fine with giving each other space, too. He’s very athletic, and plays video games, and sings and plays guitar, too. He’s like a younger, taller me! Which is kinda scary, but very handy. I’m glad that I didn’t have to worry about the roommate situation for long and that it’s worked out so well. And, as if playing games and sports and watching movies together wasn’t gay enough, I think we’re going to see Fleetwood Mac in concert together in Philly.

In September Lynn and I decided that we both wanted to learn (or, in her case, relearn) an orchestral instrument of the classical kind. I already play guitar passably, but have always been inspired and amazed by some great classical and movie music. Lynn played violin for a year and viola for two in grade school (or the other way ’round) and we were inspired by two visits to the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. My company did their new web site design, so we were able to get a few discounted tickets and had fantastic times. By the way, does anyone want to see orchestral Led Zeppelin with me? I don’t think Lynn is interested at all. Can you imagine Kashmir with a full orchestra? Awwwwwesome! I think I just made a mess in my pants. At any rate, I bought a cheap used violin from Accent, and Lynn rented a Viola. We both started taking lessons from two UofD students in the music education program there. My instructor is a great guy who has been fantastic to work with. He’s patient and helpful and doesn’t do too much too fast and is great at explaining things in multiple ways until I understand. This is especially necessary because the Violin is about the most difficult thing on the planet to actually play right and I have wanted to chuck it against a wall multiple times. I am making pretty good progress though, considering how clumsy and jittery I generally am. The other thing that keeps me going is that I decided to name my violin “Lillian” after my late grandmother. She was a classy lady, and this is a classy instrument, and I want to honor her by continuing to get better. I’ll have to ask mom if she knows of any classical pieces that Gram was particularly attached to. I like playing “Ode to Joy” on it.

I’ve also picked up a new sport, recreational co-ed volleyball. I played in some pickup games last year at a nearby gym with some friends and started to take to it pretty well. Then a few weeks ago my friend Nick said he was putting together a team and I got myself, the newb, and my roommate, the awesome, onto it. We haven’t played too well as a team yet, but we’re definitely getting better every week, I think. There are a couple of nice things about volleyball compared to hockey. One is that we can practice as a team for a lot cheaper. The guy running the team and his wife are part of a church that has a nice large recreation room that we can setup a net inside and use. We each chip in a few bucks for use of the space and get about 2 hours together. That’s been great for me in particular as a newcomer, and for the team as well since most of us have never played together. We learn strategies and lineups in practice on Tuesday, and then play them on Friday. It works pretty well. Another nice thing is that I don’t have to entirely retrain my body how to move around, unlike hockey. I’m learning to stay on my toes and move more quickly to the ball and get in position. But it’s not like I have to run around the whole time like soccer, or try to handle something in my hands like basketball or lacrosse. I move to a spot, I make a play, and then I get out of the way and get set for the next one. It’s the perfect combination of speed and effort and difficulty for me. It’s also a hell of a lot cheaper than hockey by leaps and bounds, and was easy to work into the budget. My friend Eric came out to take some pictures last week and they’re up in Facebook, but he’s still working his personal site’s portfolio gallery. We hope to get him out again, because he did some great work.

I picked up another new interest over Christmas break. I stayed with my Mom in Dover for a few days, and while I was there I cleared out my old closet. In there I found an old HO scale train set of my father’s. It was made in Lima, Italy, sometime in the early 80s. It’s a complete, ready-to-run set with two locomotives, a half dozen cars, track, power pack, layout mat and a bunch of simple scenery buildings. I put it together at my Mom’s and found that it still works. One of the engines runs fine, but the other seemed to be dead on the track. I asked Dad if he minded and I “acquired” it. Currently it’s in the garage still packed up. But, once Lynn’s stuff is out of there and in her dorm room for Spring, I’m going to build a real board for the set with her and put it all together. Lynn and her Dad are both into model railroading, too, so it will be fun for us to work on it together. I talked to Dad on the phone for a while about the set and what I need to do to clean it up and keep it maintained. I took the two locomotives and my power pack to a meeting of model train “enthusiasts” that meet in a club in Hockessin called the Northern Delaware Model Railroad Club. They have a MASSIVE set there that they continuously add on to and improve, there are some great videos online, too. So I brought my stuff up there with the hope that they’d be able to look at the non-working engine. We were able to determine that the engine has connectivity between the wheels, but it looks like my power pack is actually the problem. It seems to be putting out inconsistent power and is just generally flaky. Bill said that some of the older, bigger permanent-magnet motors need a bit more current to push the heavier gears. So I may take a stop down to the train stores on 202 or in Newark and look for a replacement power pack to try and push that big car. I might also become a member of that train club, if time permits. I hope to take Dad and Lynn by for a visit sometime, they would both be floored by it.

I think this belongs in “old business,” actually, but I’m here now. I finally joined the year 2005 and got an XBox 360 for myself as an early Christmas present with some of the nice bonus money I got from work. The online connectivity with my friends and the 3 years of titles have made this a solid purchase. Currently I’m playing a lot of NHL 09, which is gorgeous, and Rock Band 2 (My band is “The Knights Dopplar“). I also play a smidge of Halo 3 and Gears 2 online with friends now and then and lots of downloadable trials and demos. On the DS I’ve been playing the latest Chronotrigger release, which is pretty much the greatest RPG ever. EVAR! On the PC I played Spore, Bioshock and Mass Effect, but finished none of the above. And I played a few Civ 4 games with Lynn and Mike. Now the only thing I’m currently playing on the PC is a fantastic, free MMO web browser game called Pardus. It’s essentially a kind of turn-based Privateer/Elite game where you play a spaceship pilot that can trade goods, fight aliens, hunt pirates, run buildings and space stations, form alliances and fight in huge universe-wide fights. It’s incredibly amazing and deep for a free web game.

I think that’s about it for new hobbies and things. I will try to keep things going here!

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