Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Life lessons...

Cell phones and washing machines don't mix.

That's what my wife found out recently. Of course, the phone is shiny and clean again... I went to my local phone store and explained my delimma. The guy...a great-looking black man with green eyes that just might be real...checked my account and confirmed that yes, my wife's phone is insured. Thought so. I knew I insured one of them when we first got them, but couldn't remember which one. I'm the one who was most likely to drop it and break it. I did drop it within the first week -- onto a concrete sidewalk -- but fortunately it survived with only a few nicks.

No, I chose to buy insurance for my wife's phone because of her history with electronic gadgets. She has a strong aura that apparently doesn't get along well with electronics. It's not her fault, and it's not incompetence of any sort. It's just that sometimes electronical things get wonky around her. So I opted for a warranty of sorts for her cell phone.

Fast-forward to today. I place the call to the insuring agency and find out that apparently people leave their cell phones in their pants pockets and wash them all the time. Now, I've washed my pocket knife a time or three. But never my wallet or car keys. And before now, would never have imagined running my cell phone through the wash. But then, I guess neither would my wife.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas from Cybertron!

Here we are...Christmas Day! There are so many Transformers swarming around our house now, that it feels like our home IS Cybertron (that's the Transformers' home planet, for those of you not in the know). Definitely a Transformers Christmas! And I think my sister-in-law is bringing a couple more, too.

Happy Holidays everyone. Stay safe and close to those you love, and watch out for those evil Decepticons!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Another post about beer

Last year I made an awesome discovery during the holiday season, and I am fortunate to experience it again this year: Saranac's 12 Beers of Winter . What can I say about this? I won't dally with teasing details; I'll get straight to the point. To me, Saranac's 12 beers of winter is the equivalent of a box of holiday chocolates. It's a sublime sampler of sophisticated suds. Each one is different, and UNLIKE the chocolates, each one is delicious. Especially the caramel porter. That's a new flavor, and man, does it rock!

Imagine it: 12 beers, all a different flavor, and all of them good! I get giddy whenever I open the box. Last year, when I brought it home for the first time (I don't think there were 12 flavors last year, I'm not sure), I accidentally drank six of them in one sitting while watching Fellowship of the Ring. Now, I don't usually drink more than two on a typical evening, but I got caught up in the excitement of new flavors and a terrific movie.

The only one I don't really care for is the Winter Wassail. I don't usually like spiced beers. This one reminded me of a fruitcake. Well, more like a fruitcake soaked in heavy beer. All of the flavors are rich and complex. The colors represent the full spectrum of the hoppy rainbow. Tasty, "sippin' beer" just begging for a fire place.

Saranac makes good beer in general. Fact of life. But they really pull out all the stops for this seasonal collection. Go to your grocery store and pick one up while you can. If you've never had Saranac, you may have seen them. During other parts of the year, you can usually find their standard 12-pack, called a Trail Mix. It's an assortment of their regular flavors.

That's enough sales pitching for now. Me, I'm going to pour me one and watch Family Guy. I wonder what I'll choose...their black and tan or the oatmeal stout? The chocolate amber? Oh, maybe the nut brown...you know how much I love brown ales, and this one is incredible.

I'm a beer dork.

Playing on XM: Twangbangers
(their 9-minute version of Hotrod Lincoln features a study of guitar-playing styles!)

They don't call me Gamer-X for nothing...

Most people know my fondness for gaming. RPGs, boardgames, cardgames. Screw videogames -- they're the devil's work. What? You thought crack cocaine was the work of the devil? Heh. That's what the government WANTS you to think!

Naturally, I'm raising my boys in the same vein. They love playing games. I pulled my time playing Candyland and Chutes and Ladders in order to groom them for the good stuff now. Of course, I began the indoctrination early on, like using HeroClix figures in Candyland instead of those lifeless plastic gingerbread men. Our Marvel superheroes secret war was fought for control of the candy kingdom.

Now that the boys are 5 and almost-7, they've experimented with their first collectible card game (Teen Titans Go) and we play things like Give Me the Brain (from Cheapass Games) and Fluxx (from Looney Labs). They learned arithmetic playing Button Men (a "clever little dice game" from Cheapass Games). They're really developing a strong game-sense. Oh, and also very strong reasoning and reading skills, for what that's worth.

Recently they've been a little hyper as all tots are this time of year. Last Saturday they were having a very bad day. They'd both been yelled at extensively and spent significant portions of the day in time-out. I decided I wanted to end the day on a more positive note, so I offered to teach them a new game: Munchkin (a fun card game from Steve Jackson Games). [Is it weird that I spout off game designers so easily? Nah.]

We played a couple of short games that evening so that they could get a grip on the rules. More importantly, they got to focus on something constructive and fun and we all had some pleasant quality time before bed. Dunc asked if we could play again the next morning. It was Sunday, so I said, "sure, we'll be able to do that as soon as we get up."

Fast forward to the next morning.

I'm awakened at 6:28 by the sound of someone banging in the boys' room. I walk in (my wife is already up, working in the living room) and ask my minion why he's making so much noise. Can't he see that his older brother is still sleeping? "Yes, I know. I'm trying to wake him up to play with me." I send the first out to watch TV and the other one gets out of bed, now awake from all of the commotion.

I accompany them to the living room to make sure they don't distrub their mother. As I turn to head back to my comfy pillow, Duncan, ever ready to seize the day, ESPECIALLY in the pre-dawn hours, asks, "can we play Munchkin now dad?" Well, as a devoted, professional gamer...I couldn't refuse. It's biological instinct for me to accept an offer to game. Even at 6:30 on a Sunday morning.

So we're playing. And Logan, the 6-yr old makes his move. I get a monster that's tough, but nothing I can't handle. Logan offers to help me in the combat...he quickly caught on to the special ability on his Elf race card (by assisting other players in combat, he gains a level, thus getting one step closer to winning the game). I say "no thanks, I've got it." His retort: "Okay, I'll play this then." And he lays down a monster enhancer (Humongous), empowering the monster well beyond my means of dealing with it. Upon me announcing this, he replies, "can I help you now?"

How could I refuse? I just got Munchkin'd by my own munchkin.

Playing on XM: Special Xmas

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Holiday madness

Middle of December already. The holidays are upon us and for once, I'm enjoying them. We decorated our house ...inside... on Thanksgiving weekend. That helped get us into the spirit a lot. We wrote our Christmas letter, addressed the cards, and then took two weeks to getting around to printing the letter. Oh well, we got off to a good start.

Work has been kicking me in the head for weeks...not only do we have three catalogs in the works at one time...during the holidays, but our sections...the car audio gear...is all new products. And since we're writing and going to print months before the manufacturers even HAVE finished products on hand, getting final information and specs on them is almost hopeless. Life of copywriting is fun.

Playing on XM: Drive-By Truckers!