Monday Mini-Rant: Minnesota Weather Part 2

I really didn’t intend to write about the weather two weeks in a row but my previous entry was the second most viewed and hey if it ain’t broke, why shovel out the driveway? Wait, what? Ahh whatever. My first Monday Mini-Rant talked about the snow the was upon us and the lack of intelligence surrounding people’s reactions. Sound intrigued but missed it? I’ve got you covered: https://celticspy.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/monday-mini-rant-minnesota-weather/ Last week at this time it was snowing like the end of the world. This week we have enough snow to fill Target Field, believe me, there are pictures. Mother Nature changes her mind more than I change my socks. And for you smartasses that’s every day. What worries me is the warm temperatures and the amount of rain we’re supposed to get.

Get your high water pants out and dust off your floaties folks, the waters are gonna be a-risin. Seriously a tsunami is upon us. Based on how quickly mother nature unleashes her fury upon us we may be swimming to our various duties instead of driving. I’m sure peoples reactions will be the same so I’ve just accepted it. Here, let me get it out of my system, just in case I’m tempted. “It’s raining!” “It’s snowing” It’s so nice out today!” “Is that hail?!” “Oh Minnesota weather, you so crazy!” Here’s to hoping I don’t have to talk about the freaking weather next week.

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Entry 7: The Future Of Technology

Alright everyone I’ve been at this for almost 2 months now and I don’t plan on slowing down. This week I’m going to cut to the chase, no pleading for views or critiques. Let’s get to it, on to the future of technology!

First off, if you haven’t checked out Google Glass, you should. It’s a virtual reality peripheral that will allow you to access basic information and apps on the go. Basically it’s a set of eye glasses that connect to your Apple or Android device that let you look up information through your voice. Simply say “ok, glass” and then your requested search and wham! The info you desire is delivered directly to your retina. You can take pictures, record video, google pretty much anything, view the weather, and those are just the beta features. a year or two from now and the possibilities are limitless. Think of the power of your strongest and fastest computer combined with the sleekness of a pair of sunglasses. To say I’m excited about this would be to say that a few dinosaur species died out. I think you get it.

Now! Onto the next big gaming system. I’m not going to address the PS4 simply because it’s specs have been released and I’m not a Sony fan. So, The Xbox Durango is on the table. First off, I’m sick of people calling it the Infinity or the 720, it has an official code name. Use it. So, a few (read A LOT) of people have been complaining about the rumor that the Durango will be an “always online” console. A lot of people dislike this because internet connection isn’t as reliable in some places as it is in others. I for one have no problem with a console that is always connected to the internet. If you don’t live in the boonies, this feature isn’t a problem for you. Besides, I don’t see the lack of wireless support or internet support in certain areas as an individual failure but as a failure of the internet providers. America, ALL OF AMERICA, deserves reliable internet access. Everyone knows it wouldn’t be that difficult to make it happen so internet providers… make it happen!!

Now, while we’re on the subject of internet connectivity, let’s talk a little bit about Google Fiber. While I’m not the most educated person when it comes to this topic, Google Fiber could potentially revolutionize the way the internet is delivered to pretty much every single American. It’s in its testing phase but if it were to prove successful it could provide internet services that would dwarf any delivery system that’s currently available. The way I see it, Google has been making money for quite a few years while keeping its greatest innovations to itself. If the powers-at-be of Google have any common sense, they’ll release all of their inventions at the same time and completely dominate the electronic market.

So, this entry isn’t funny so much as it is informative, and for those of you who appreciate my humor, I’m sorry. I do believe that I’ve addressed a few topics that may change all of our lives within the next year or so. Between Google Glass and Google Fiber, the way we access the internet, and ultimately interact with each other, may change drastically within the next few years, and I for one cannot wait.

Monday Mini-Rant: Minnesota Weather

Alright everyone if you’re reading this at the time of publication you may or may not be aware of our current state but we are in a winter storm warning until some time on Wednesday. I’m not going to focus on that but on the reactions of us good ole Minnesotans. If you’ve lived here for more than 2 months you know the weather can change at the drop of a hat so STOP POSTING ABOUT IT!! Yes, before you scream protests, I’m aware of the fact that I’m doing the exact thing I’m arguing against but consider this a public notice. We all know what snow looks like so don’t post a picture of it. We all have windows so don’t post “OMG IT’S SNOWING IN APRIL?!?!” statuses. We can all feel the temperature so don’t tell everyone how cold it is outside. We get it. We probably live within a half hour of you and we have enough common sense to recognize when the weather changes. Some of us have lived here all our lives. We know that in the morning you might have to use the heater and after classes or work you may be rocking the AC but that’s what I love about this state. Happy Monday everyone.

An Angel Of Death Part 1: The Victim

John packs his suitcase calmly while his parents argue downstairs. The 12 year old boy had heard these disputes for as long as he can remember. Finally he’s had enough. The backhand from his father before being sent to his room was the last straw. That had made the decision easy. Tonight, John was going to rid himself of this house, this abusive family, and this downward spiraling lifestyle. John was finally going to run away.

As he scurried out his second story window, down on to the porch overhang and onto the ground he wonders where he will go and what he will do. He remembers the abandoned house 3 streets over. All of the foolish and impressionable kids younger than John say it’s haunted. That a ghost roams the halls of this house but John is smart enough to know better. There aren’t ghosts roaming the halls, only spiders. He finally reaches his destination. It’s only a temporary home, a shelter to protect him from the elements until he can figure out a long term plan. Upon opening the front door, John sees nothing but covered furniture and cobwebs. He flicks a light switch, nothing. He wanders around, guided only by the light streaming through the windows. He stumbles upon a staircase and ventures up it.

Upon arriving on the second floor John realizes that there is nothing special about this floor either. There are three bedrooms, covered in dust and cobwebs. Lamps, beds, couches, all covered with sheets and dust. In the hallway however, something else exists. After searching the rooms, John realizes there is a door on the ceiling, a door connected to a staircase that leads to the attic.

He pulls on the string and the staircase descends. He ventures upwards and realizes there is only one window in the attic. From that window there is enough light for John to realize that the attic is empty, except for one pedestal placed in the center of the room. John approaches the pedestal. There is a glimmering coin set upon it. He reaches for the coin and picks it up. There is a loud noise behind him. John spins around and realizes the staircase has collapsed. He is trapped in the attic of an abandoned house. Suddenly, smoke starts to rise up through the opening that once led to the second floor. John starts to panic. Flames start to creep into the attic and John realizes the severity of his situation. The house is burning from the ground up and he’s trapped on the top floor. He backs as far away from the opening as he can and is soon showered with glass.

“Hey kid! Jump onto the porch!” John looks out the window he has backed himself next to. Below him is a man waving his arms, trying to get his attention. He peeks over the window and sees an overhang, one similar to the one that allowed him to escape his own home earlier. He hops out of the window. “Jump! I’ll catch you!!” the man yells. John creeps towards the edge of the overhang, gathers all his courage, and leaps towards the man. He is caught, and saved from harm. The man lowers him to the ground and before John knows it they are surrounded by reporters and journalists praising the man for his courage and his heroism. John is questioned as well but after hours of interrogation they are allowed to return to their normal lives. John comes home to hugs and tears from both of his parents. He sees hope for his future in their reaction, he sees a new life, a better life, on the horizon.

Review 1: Alan Wake

If anyone would ask me I would not hesitate to label myself as a gamer. It’s on my twitter profile, I’ve had numerous posts about video games on Facebook and I claim to be a gamer on my blog profile as well. That being said I have yet to even mention a game or anything gaming related on my blog. I think it’s about time to change that. So without further ado, my review of Alan Wake, an Xbox 360 exclusive.

The logo and covers are fairly simple, the game? Not so much. I mean that in the best possible way. You take on the role of a best-selling thriller author with a severe case of writers block and a struggling marriage as they in vacation Bright Falls. Alright I know what you’re thinking, why in the world would I want to play the role of a fiction writer with marriage issues while he’s on vacation? I wasn’t as skeptical as one might think and at under $20 it was a no-brainer for me. Let me tell you, this gamble payed off.

Alright a little bit more about the story AFTER you read the manual. The game starts off relatively normal with a monologue-while-moving type of storytelling with cut scenes speckled throughout. The game gets you wondering what’s going on fairly quickly. The opening cutscene has you running over a pedestrian only for his body to disappear.  The action and intrigue don’t slow down as the game continues and not too far into the game your wife disappears from your remote cabin while you’re in town getting supplies. The rest of the game you find yourself fighting off enemies and discovering clues as to her whereabouts. The gameplay in this game is unique and refreshing and definitely fits well with the way the story is presented. The length of it’s campaign has been criticized as being too short but how engrossed you are while journeying through the story far outweighs it’s length.

In Alan Wake you find yourself literally fighting off the darkness. On your quest to save Alice, your wife, you must repel what appear to be creations of your own that have come to life. You utilize different light sources throughout the game to remove yourself from danger and accomplish different objectives. There are “havens” which are permanent light sources that can allow you to move quickly but consistently throughout the chapter but sometimes these are few and far between. It’s times like these that you must utilize flashlights, lanterns and signal flares to fend off your would be killers. Through exposure to light, the darkness flees from your enemies, the Taken, and you are able to dispatch them with various firearms which include a revolver, 2 shotguns, and a hunting rifle. There are also a few driving segments where you remove the darkness from the Taken and run them over GTA style. One particularly enjoyable segment has you defending a rock concert stage from hordes of Taken while you light searchlights and fireworks to remove the darkness and blast through wave after wave of enemies. The game also features a fair amount of collectibles such as manuscript pages, weapons caches, and viewing episodes of a psychological thriller TV show. So far we have an incredibly unique storyline and a fairly unseen style of gameplay but what really sets this game apart is the incredible soundtrack and musical score.

Normally I wouldn’t dwell on game soundtracks too much. My philosophy had always been one of “if it’s there and doesn’t ruin the game, great.” I was one that wouldn’t even notice if there was a soundtrack half the time but the songs played at the bookends of each chapter are perfectly suited to the events and mood of the game. This is the first game that has ever made me look up not once, but multiple times, songs from the game to listen to repeatedly. I’m doing so as we speak. There are so many good songs but here’s my favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tA2d4DWdGw It’s not just the songs that are great, the ambient music is also fantastic and appropriate. I’ve tackled three areas of Alan Wake so lets sum things up and I’ll give it my final grade.

Alan Wake has an interesting and engrossing story, compelling and enjoyable gameplay, and a sountrack that is one of the best ones to ever grace a video game. While it may resemble a more mysterious, less gory version of Resident Evil, any game that I cannot bring myself to play alone at night is one I have to suggest to anyone with an Xbox 360 and at $20 for a new copy, there is no excuse for not owning this gem of an exclusive. While it may not be the longest game, it is one of the most original games I have ever played. If you have a 360 and don’t own this game, put down the controller, go rent or buy it, complete it, and wonder what you’re doing with your life that you missed out on such a good game for so long.

Entry 6: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Welcome back everybody! It’s week 6 in my little project and I’m happy to say I’m not sick of it yet and hopefully none of you are either. This weeks theme is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I’m not talking about people, the movie, or even Clint Eastwood. While all those topics could be scrutinized, I’ve chosen to apply this theme to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area! (Or BWCA for short) As some of you may know, I’ve been inquiring about a BWCA trip this summer so, thanks to some encouragement from Luis Lozano, I’ve decided to pick my previous trip apart. So here it goes!

The good parts about a BWCA trip are varied and many. By your first morning there, any question about whether or not you should go are whisked away by the waters you’ve gone through and the winds at your back (though they aren’t always at your back). You wake up after a hard day of canoeing feeling refreshed and ready to tackle any and all challenges the day may present you with. The scorching heat is quickly dispatched by a quick jump into the oh so chilly, but oh so good, waters. On the best day it feels as though you’re in a climate controlled room that gives you the perfect breeze at the perfect time. After a full day of canoeing, or even at lunch time, there’s nothing better than a cold drink of water, fresh from the lake, and a strip of beef jerky or a cinnamon raisin bagel smothered with peanut butter. Makes it seem like a 4 star restaurant. Oh and the views! Some trails bring you so high it seems as though you can see God’s wilderness as intended for miles. Other ones bring you along the bottom of massive cliffs bordering the lakes, and yes, you can jump off of these massive cliffs if you’ve got the guts (I didn’t last time, we’ll see about this time). But, as much praise as I could give this trip, it’s time to move on to the bad.

I can sum up the bad in three words: insects and sunburn. First of all I would say the mosquitoes were the worst but anyone who has seen me during the summer knows that I swell up like a balloon when even one mosquito feasts on my blood. You don’t see too many on the lakes but when you’re running from lake to lake it’s like you’re advertising for an all you can eat buffet. Due to the thin nature of the clothing you wear, or lack of clothing,  pretty much every centimeter of skin is up for grabs so bring plenty of anti itch creams and bug spray. Now onto the sunburn, the painful painful sunburn. I must have really sensitive skin because the sun hurt me worse than anyone else too. My thighs, shoulders, ears and nose looked like a tomato by the time I got back and you could practically write on the sheets of skin that peeled off me when it finally healed. The line between my compression shorts covered leg and the bare flesh looked like it had been painted on with a red marker.

Now! Finally, the ugly. First off there are obviously no showers but being in the water multiple times a day helps to fend off any smells that may creep up on you. In the BWCA, cleanliness isn’t exactly a priority. Neither is clothing. By the second day we were all down to sunglasses, shoes, and compression shorts. Not exactly the best of views for 6 guys but bearable, given the circumstances. Another undesirable consequence is having your leg rubbed by Luis Lozano because you can’t bring yourself to rub the aloe vera into your sunburn. All I could think was don’t make eye contact. Finally, having to carry out absolutely everything that you carried in can be kind of annoying, especially when the worm container busts open in the food barrel. Empty plastic, leftover food, and broken bait containers covering your good food can be kind of annoying but hey, it’s all just another part of the experience.

Well I’ve covered the BWCA as best I could over text and in such short form that I think that about wraps it up. If ya wanna know anything else about it feel free to ask, comment, or get a hold of me however you’d like. While there were times where I wondered what in the world I was doing out in the middle of nowhere with no modern conveniences, those times were overshadowed by the amount of fun that was had and the bonds that were strengthened between 6 guys out and about in God’s green earth. Once we were done with our trip I never regretted journeying up north and knew that I just HAD to make that trip again some day. Hopefully that day comes this summer.