Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mutant Night

One of the enjoyable activities for me in New Hampshire is playing the ol' video arcade machine with my nephews late into the night. We always seem to manage to discover some crazy game which none of us had ever heard of before, but ends up being lots of fun. Not that the game itself is necessarily that great, but its quirkiness combined with our silliness ends up making the game 10 times better.

Last night we discovered the game Mutant Night. You can read a little bit about it here. It's a very bizarre game - you play the role of an eyeball that runs around in some wacked-out world with attacking monkey skeletons, vicious sand trout (they come up out of the ground like sandworm from Dune), deadly floating flat-head screwdrivers, and other odd abstract items to which we ended up giving silly descriptive names.

The game even has a giant mechanical flounder with a freaking laser beam mounted on its head! What more could you want? How about power-up eggs that make you grow giant like in Super Mario where you can just stomp over everything you encounter, or other egg power-ups that make you produce temporarily indestructible clones? The game is just too bizarre for me to fully describe.

Anyhow, I was having a fun time playing the game, acting like an idiot, talking in a stupid sing-song loud voice narrating the game as we played, trying to explain what all the bizarre stuff we were seeing actually was. After a while we got a group of 5 us taking turns playing the game trying to see how far we could get.

Certain parts of the game seemed ridiculously hard - impossible almost - which made us try even harder at trying to get past them. At one point after trying for the 50th time to get past a certain point, I joked about how it would be funny if a person from Japan who was familiar with the game happened to see us playing and asked us why we didn't just climb inside the deadly mechanical flounder and drive it around to fight the other creatures. We all laughed and continued playing trying to fight the deadly flounder.

After several hours of playing, we finally gave up when we discovered the game had "wrapped around" back to the start level and was just now playing at an increased difficultly and was never really going to end. Since we had never watched the intro screen which may have explained the game, we decided to let the game run in demo mode. And wouldn't you know it, you really can climb inside the deadly mechanical flounder and drive it around to fight all the other creatures!

Here's a screenshot of the game showing the dreaded sand trout and a stone dragon that looks suspiciously like Bub from the game Puzzle Bubble:

Random Eye Dull Photo - Loon

Managed to use my kayak to stalk a loon. I even saw it catch a fish. Too bad my hand wasn't very steady on the water - the picture isn't in focus at all...

Random Eye Dull Photo - Crow Silhouettes

More nature photos from New Hampshire... I like the simplicity of photographing crow silhouettes. (Looks like I somehow messed up the default quality of thumbnails recently. Click on the images for less jaggy images while I search for the setting I accidentally changed...)

Random Eye Dull Photo - And what are dragons without damsels?

To go along with the previous dragonfly, here's a damselfly I also saw. I liked the shiny blue color. (Sorry the thumbnail image is kinda grainy. My auto-converter seems to be lacking...)

Random Eye Dull Photo - There be Dragons!

Saw this cool colored dragonfly up in New Hampshire.

It had a tiny red spot on the side of its neck. Not sure what it was...

Random Eye Dull Photo - Butterfly Pounce

This weekend up in New Hampshire my sister hosted a family get-together. As part of the weekend activities, my sister put together a nature photography scavenger hunt. One of the pictures we needed to get was a butterfly. This was my favorite of the ones I managed to snap:

I liked how it looks like the butterfly is pouncing on the flower...

It sure is hard to photograph a butterfly in flight. Talk about chaos!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Arcade: Mission Accomplished

I finally replaced the broken flight stick in my home-made arcade
machine with a true heavy duty arcade controller. I seriously doubt
my nephews with be able to break this. I forget which arcade game it
came from (snagged on eBay a couple years ago), but it works well with
discs of tron, which was my goal.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Accidental graffiti

It's the little things that amuse me. Some of my recently cut hair
fell in the trash this way... (ok I admit, I adjusted it slightly
after I saw it.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Stuck in a rut - literally

Today was fun. I went for a drive with a friend with the intent of going hiking. We were driving around Sutton, MA, looking for a place where the Massachusetts Mid-State Trail becomes a trail again rather than following a paved road.

We eventually found a dirt road turn where the trail headed into the woods. Since there wasn't any parking at that junction, we decided to drive along the dirt road. After a few minutes of driving, the road quality got worse and worse. Eventually, it became a rocky mud thing that somewhat resembled a dirt road, but definitely wasn't suited for most cars. I was kind of enjoying the adventure, and decided to push onward. "What's the worst that can happen?" is something I think I said to my friend at some point. The road was bad, but the worst I expected was getting some scrapes on the bottom of my SUV from some larger rocks that I might accidentally hit.

Well, it turns out something worse could happen. While my friend was outside the vehicle helping me navigate some extra large rocks - I managed to drive a little too far off the edge of road and wedged my front right tire between two very large rocks. Woops! I was being a bit impatient and rather than slowly creep around some rocks in the middle of the road, I went a bit faster and thought I was clear - and didn't even see the brush covered rock on the right that the right tire dropped over. From my friends point of view in front of the car, it looked like the right tire had just bumped into a very large rock and stopped forward progress.

The rock on the right that was behind the right tire was so well hidden, it was a few minutes before we even realized that's why the car wasn't moving. At first I though it was no big deal, that the vehicle was stuck from going forward because there was a rock in font of the right tire. And when going in reverse didn't work, I just assumed it was because left front tire was slipping on a muddy rock. After getting out of the vehicle I saw the right tire nicely placed between two very large rocks and instantly got that "OH Crap!" sick-to-the-stomach feeling.

It wasn't looking good. Both rocks were a couple feet in diameter - not something that two people could reasonably expect to be able to move. Moving the one behind the tire definitely wasn't an option - it was under the car and appeared to be well rooted in the ground. The one in front was big enough to weight about 800 pounds, maybe more. Again, not something easily moved.

So, the first thing we tried was using the car jack to raise the front of the car enough so the tire would be lifted and we could put other rocks underneath. It seemed like a good idea, but due to the way the vehicle was titled on the edge of the road, the jack, while positioned adjacent to the front tire, was actually lifting the whole back end of the vehicle. Eventually the back right tire came off the ground rather than the front right one! The weight of the engine combined with the slope of the road was working against us.

Plan B: While the rock in front of the tire was quite large, it appeared to be sitting mostly on the surface of the ground. So, there was a chance we could move it. I began to dig behind the rock while my friend went searching for something decent to use as a lever. Surprisingly, he quickly returned with 2 good quality 2x8 planks about 4 feet long that just happened to be on the side of the road not too far away. Perfect! After more digging and the coordinated use of the levers between the two of us, we we able to slowly pry and push the rock over enough so the tire was no longer obstructed. It took us about 2 hours in total to get the vehicle free. At that point, we decided we probably shouldn't push our luck and reversed direction back to better road conditions.

I think in the future, I'll keep a few more tools in my SUV than just the standard jack and tire iron. And maybe not treat my Toyota RAV4 like it's a Jeep. But where's the fun in that?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Random Eye Dull Photo - Yellow Mushrooms

Spotted these colorful mushrooms on the first sunny day after what seemed like a month of rain.

"Wait for Me"

I'm really enjoying the latest Moby album - "Wait for Me". After just one listen all the songs feel like old friends. I especially like the melancholy "Mistake" and "Jltf". Such a nice way to present those god-awful feelings of times gone bad.

If you like Moby's earlier more ambient-style moody music, this new album is definitely recommended.