Saturday, February 08, 2014

Games Log

After a long hiatus, I've decided to pick up the weblog again,  this time focusing on the games I'm playing. I love games and spend much of my leisure time playing games, so I thought others might like to hear what I am up to.

Need for Speed-Rivals

This is an Xbox game I bought, shared 50-50 with a Dad, a couple of weeks ago. You have a choice of two different careers in the game, as a racer or as a cop. I'm pursuing both paths. The game is a driving game where, as a cop, you have to catch the racers. Unlike normal law enforcement, catching them involves repeatedly smashing into their vehicles until they can no longer drive. As a racer, you have two jobs---get away from the cops and go faster than the other racers. Success gets you points which can be used to buy better cars or to equip your existing car with better stuff.

The graphics on the game are superb. The roads and scenery look very realistic, and the weather, as well as the time of day, changes. It's quite a bit more difficult to drive crazy fast at night in a rainstorm than it is on a sunny day.  Mixed into all of this is a story of escalating unhappiness between the cops and the racers. I'm on chapter 3 of the racers and chapter 2 for the cops. There are various goals that you have to achieve to move forward to the next chapter of the story.

The best part of the game is the crashes. When you crash, the visual cuts to a 3rd person view of the car, which does crazy, but realistic things when it crashes. It can flip over, turn o circles or even slide a considerable distance on its roof. The crash effects are truly spectacular.


This is a board game I just completed with Dad. It's about the battle of Segikahara, which was the critical battle for the unification of Japan. I first got interested in this period in history through Pokemon. They made a game, Pokemon Revolution, where Japanese Shogun were matched with Pokemon in trying to rule the Shogunate. The most powerful of these warlords is Oda Nobunaga, a real Shogun. I also learned about Tokogawa from the game Civilization, where he is the leader of the Japanese. My love of Pokemon has made me quite curious about Japan.

This battle fills in the gap between Nobunaga and Tokugawa. Nobunaga was murdered by other jealous shogun and, in his place, Hedeyoshi Toyotomi, came to power. He lasted a while but, as he grew old, he also become nuts, and killed nearly all of his family. All that was left was his 2 year old son, Hiseyori.  Toyotomi's plan was to divide the other shoguns into two roughly equal blocks, thereby ensuring his son would retain power as the fulcrum on which the balance of power would rest.

But it didn't work out that way. Jealousies soon erupted, and two main factions went to war. One faction, Ishida, backed the boy king while the other was led by Tokugawa. I played Tokigawa while Dad played Ishida. Initially, Dad made a mistake that enabled me to sneak a force into Osaka, where the boy king was located. If successful, my force would capture him and the game would be over. Unfortunately, protecting him were forces under Teremoto Mori, the second most powerful shogun in Japan. His forces remain off the map since Ishida did not want to share credit with the Mori, but they activate when the boy king is threatened. As a result, the Mori forces where narrowly able to protect the boy king.

For several (game) weeks thereafter, I concentrated my forces while Dad's Ishida forces drove me back. At last, I launched a big counterattack, pushing back the Uesugi forces in the west as well as storming toward some castles in the east. But I was a little too late. Even at the end, I had a shot to take the Uegi castle for the tie. I destroyed all the fighting units, but the great general and his crack group of officers held out in the castle.

 The game itself is really pretty. Each unit is a block, with Japanese writing on it showing the unit, it's strength and so on. Each. Side can see now many blocks are attacking it not their daimyo (leader) or strength. Also, units will only fight of you have a card to activate them. Even worse (or better), units can switch sides with the right cards. All of this makes for a lot of suspense in each battle, even though there are no dice used to decide anything. While it is no fun to lose to Dad who, unfortunately, is quite good at these games, it was very exciting.

In later entries, I'll tell you about other games we are playing.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


For the first time in a long time, I had a sleepover at Chris's house. While Chris and I went through times where we disagreed about fun things to do, currently we get along really well. We spent much of the day playing with Hot Wheels cars. In one scenario, most of the cars worked at the bank, a toy cash register I owned. But some of them instead, enjoyed using the bank differently--by trying to rob it. Naturally, this led to some wild and wacky car chases before the bank robbers were apprehended.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fifth Grade College

My teacher faced a bit of a rebellion today. He often assigns homework covering topics that are never discussed in the class. For instance, this week I had homework on lines, line segments, planes, parallel and perpendicular lines, none of which were even mentioned in class. Needless to say, this makes doing homework on these topics difficult and time consuming. Well, today, there was a mutiny. After a lot of grousing, Mr. Telles asked the class how many individuals took more than one hour to complete homework every day this week. All hands save one were raised. The lone missing hand had opted not to do substantial chunks of her homework and hence could complete it on time. Yeesh.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homorable Mention

I competed in Reflections again this year, in two categories rather than only in photography. My video of the Warter Moment is slow motion movie I took of water drops falling out of the sky and into a clear glass bowl,. I added the slow motion effects, the title and ending screen, the soundtrack, and so on, using Microsoft Movie Maker, which I highly recommend.

This piece got honorable mention in the film category, but the whole family thinks it should have won. The winning entry was a three slide Ken Burns style slideshow of Neil Armstrong's moon landing made out of paper, scotch tape, and aluminum foil. I suppose the judges found the homemade quality of the work to be charming, but I thought it seemed pretty lame.

I also entered two photographs, one was a still image of the moment that a drop of water splashes into a glass cup. The water is dyed with food coloring to make an even cooler effect. This image was actually pulled from my movie. Happily, our video camera lets you extract high quality still images from it. This image did not even win an award at the school, much less the regional level where the work tonight.

My other entry was the sunlight glinting off of a broken haystalk. I took this picture on a trip to a pumpkin patch. It won first place at the school, so I had hoped this might be representative. Alas, it was not to be.I lost out to a photshopped self-portrait.

Still, I did well, and I'll be bsck to do even better next year!

Leopard Cookies

I got a new stuffie not too long ago, a cute leopard that I made at Build a Bear. He had a story recently, which I wrote down.

Once upon a time, leopard found a chocolate chip cookie. Noticing that the color of the cookie and the chips resembled leopard spots, he named it a "Leopard Cookie" and proudly announced his discovery to all the other stuffies. A see turtle, Hanu, scoffed, "Silly leopard. That's a chocolate chip cookie, not a leopard cookie."

But leopard insisted and decided to take his case to court. The two sides in the court case were Leopard and Hanu with judge Eagle presiding. Leopard made his case, pointing out the remarkable similarity of the chips to leopard spots and of the dough making up the cookie to the color of leopards. Hanu continued to point out that the cookie had a perfectly good name already and did not need another. But one of the narrators, a small, blonde fellow, kept nibbling away at the cookie. Before the judge ruled on the case, the cookie was eaten.

When at last it came time for a decision, the judge noticed the glaring lack of evidence--there was no cookie, leopard or otherwise. This was enough to tip the scales of justice. Citing lack of evidence, the case was closed in favor of Hanu. No leopard cookies.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Today, we started a unit on the baffling topic of geometry. The source of the bafflement is the insistence on using the same letters to describe various things. For instance, the two points, A and B, can describe a line segment, AB, a line AB, or a ray AB. Worse yet, the ray AB is not to be confused with the ray BA, which is a different thing entirely. On the other hand, the line and line segment AB is the same thing as the line and line segment BA. Yeesh. Math is supposed to be precise. This doesn't seem precise at all. Why don't they use one set of letters to describe one thing.

And don't get me started about planes. While I like paper airplanes, the geometry planes are an entirely different matter.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Conquest of the Empire

Conquest of the Empire
 Now that Dad is back from Europe, strategy gaming has returned to the household. Right now we're playing Conquest of the Empire, about the battle by various factions for the control of the Roman Empire. The four factions competing are controlled by Purple Zebra, Swirls (a tiger with swirls instead of stripes), Puppy, and Piggy. Daddy controls the last two and has the Roman centurions greet each of their orders with
Ave Puppy!
Ave Piggy!
Ave, I've now learned, means "hail" or "praise be to" in Latin, the language of the Romans. My Romans mostly just talk in Mario accents. It's still early going, but Purple Zebra and Piggy are in an alliance against Puppy and Swirls. We'll see how things play out.


A recent visit to my Youtube library revealed that one of my movies went a bit viral recently. Railroad Crossing of Doom now has over 11,000 views. This is especially surprising since it is not even the best of the Railroad Crossing of Doom series. The sequel, Railroad Crossing of Doom II, is better. For old times sake, check it out here:

Playmobil Survivor

Roman on the Ropes
For the most part, I don't play much with my Playmobil guys. Sometimes they come out when friends come over but rarely will I pull them out myself. Well, this weekend I decided to pull them out and discovered how amazingly fun they are. They have so many different things they can carry and outfits they can wear. Of course, since most of my playmobil guys are knights, these additional items mainly consist of weapons. Anyway, what made them so much fun to play with is that Daddy and I conducted a game of Playmobil survivor. There were 16 contestants divided into two tribes. They had to participate in many different events including shooting watermelons from a catapult, sword throwing, and so on. One of the tribes had a big advantage since a coffee drinking barbarian built his own catapult. Anyway, it was great fun. There was a tie in the final vote, so the million dollars was split between Yellow Ice Climber and The Black Knight. The Black Knight had to leave the show earlier in the season for medical reasons but then got to come back later in the series. Yellow Ice Climber also had a difficult path. In one tribal council, all the votes but his own were cast his way; however, he played the immunity idol to nullify those votes thus resulting in the ejection of Rock Star from the competition.

Chimes Concert

On Friday, the end of the year concert was held at my school. I played the chimes. Relive the excitement here:

The best part about playing the Blue Danube is that *I* picked it out. I asked my teacher if we could play it as I thought it would make a good chimes song. She agreed and arranged it herself for us to play. She gave me a big shout-out for the suggestion at the concert.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pokemon Tournament

Dad and I are running the biggest Pokemon tournament ever. We put together 16 decks including a bunch that we constructed ourselves. I made one crazy deck that is half Pokemon and half energy. Amazingly, it managed to win in the first round of the competition. I like constructing my own decks. For awhile, I was afraid to do it because I thought I would do it wrong, but now I'm gaining confidence in my skills. Of the 8 decks remaining after the first round, three are homemade. One, called Fight Club, was constructed by Daddy while the other two, Call of Legends (pictured above) and Electrifying Psychic Energy were my constructions. The Pokemon card game is such fun. I'm always surprised people who collect the cards but don't play the game. I can often find good trades with them. I exchange cool looking but weak Pokemon for strong but less cool looking ones from them.

I wonder who will win the tournament? Stay tuned.
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Cap Gun Wars

I really like old school toys. Many of my favorite toys are not the latest high-tech things, but older toys that Mom and Dad used to play with. For example, I like old school little people a lot more than new ones. I love the green Aidans. I like how they don't have names and that they're smaller and more vsersatile. The new ones are all doing specific things. For example, one of my Sonya Lee's is handing money to someone. While this is fine when handing money makes sense, there are lots of situations where it doesn't. And I don't really like that she already has a name. I want to name her.

Another example is army men. Sure there are more high tech guys that are bigger and poseable, but I prefer the anonymous green (and gray and tan) guys. You get a lot more of them, and they're a lot more fun to have wars with.

I recently discovered another old school treat--cap guns. These guns and their ammo are hard to find in the Bay area. Lots of people are anti-gun, and they don't want kids to have fun pretending to shoot stuff (and other people). While a lot of things are the same with these uns compared to the ones Daddy had growing up, one thing is different. The new ones all have bright orange covers over the end of them. This is so that police will not mistake a cap gun for the real thing and accidentally shoot a kid (or adult) waving one of these things. The picture above is my favorite cap gun--an old west 6 shooter. I also prefer old school caps, the ones that come in a red roll of paper, to new ones that come in a plastic circle. For one thing, the old school ones produce a lot more smoke and sparks.

Over the weekend, the whole family--even Mom---were running around the house and the yard having cap gun fights. This was super fun.
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Weird but Good

Normally, when Dad comes home from work, he's totally destroyed. He'll often head straight to bed to rest his back. Sometimes, he cannot even sit during dinner. He has to stand because sitting leaves him in so much pain. On these days, I really wish he didn't feel so bad. But we still have fun. He'll read me stories or play Pokemon cards with me while he lies in bed.

But today was different. In fact, today was pretty weird. Dad came home from work today in good shape physically. And it wasn't even because he took painkillers early, which he sometimes does when going out with Mom. (Dad says this isn't a good thing since the painkillers then run out in the middle of the night and leave him immobile by morning.) Sometimes this happens but the goodness only lasts a short time. But not tonight. Tonight was weird...but in a good way. He played toy car racing with me up until bedtime. Toy car racing is an activity reserved only for the times Dad is in good shape. It involves bending and crouching over the track, and that can be really hard on him. Tonight, there were no problems at all.

Dad is on a new, much higher does of a neuro suppressant called Gabapentin (generic Neurontin he says to tell you). This drug makes him really sleepy. In fact, he told a funny story about work today. Apparently, it makes him so sleepty that he was falling asleep all the time during work. To try to combat the effects, he ran around his office and did jumping jacks. That must have looked really silly to the people passing by his door. Then he did work standing up. But the drug made him so sleepy that he fell asleep standing up and plummeted to the ground. On his way down, he woke up and managed to slow his fall enough that he only banged his head off his desk a little bit. He's got a little mark on his forehead from this. I feel sorry for him though I cannot imagine falling asleep standing up.

At any rate, maybe the new drugs are working because I cannot remember the last time Dad was in such good shape in the evening. He seems more hopeful too. It would be great if I could have my old Dad back although the new one is super fun as well. In some ways, the new one is even better since he doesn't pester me to run around outside like the old Dad used to. Anyway, I hope this means he's getting better.
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