Thursday, December 22, 2011
Like the proverbial moth to the flame, I could feel myself being drawn in.
For those of you who didn't know, a "sandbox" computer game came out May 17th 2009 from Swedish creator Markus "Notch" Persson, by the name of Minecraft. Though it has achieved an almost cult like popularity around the world, I must say that I had never foreseen that it would become MY latest obsession.
I believe that I was the shocked most of all, to discover that a highly frugal me would be brought to the point of shelling out close to thirty dollars for a piece of software. Amazed at this turn of events, I decided that I had to document the chronology of the progressive events, just to see for myself how this bit of temporary insanity came to be.
- FIRST SIGHTING: Some time ago I saw a trending video on youtube and did not know what I was even watching. I was hard pressed to even confirm that it was actually a game. It featured some bizarre visuals of sheep, men jumping and digging into walls. I just chalked it up to just one of those strange thing out there.
- SPOTTED AGAIN: Many months later, I saw a cousin's youtube video and a couple of his friends related videos. I recognized the game from my previous sighting. The videos featured a creation of some amazing looking buildings that were made out of blocks. I had thought to myself, "Wow, that really looks like something that could consume a lot of a person's time." I made a determination then and there, that I should probably avoid getting involved in a game like that.
- THE TURNING BEGINS: I truly believe that I have pinpointed this moment in time as the beginning of the end for me. Darn you, Luclin Family! :-) I happened upon a really neat video where a father and son went through a Minecraft adventure together. They had recorded the dad's computer screen and both of their voices as they played. The four part video was entitled Father & Son Escape Island. It was a mesmerizing to watch these two guys interacting with one another while playing this game. Their charm started to win me over to Minecraft. (Note: I have since subscribed to their youtube playlist "Minecraft Family Adventures" and the Luclin Family channel "MinecraftWB" where they feature a new Father and Son adventure series and a new series where even mom gets into the action with them. It is really a lot of fun to watch, and I would highly recommend that you check them out.)
- IF YOU HANG AROUND THE POOL: Many more months and a couple videos later, I came across the minecraft.net website. I saw that in addition to a link to buy it, that you could actually play it "in browser" for free. This intrigued me. I played the classic single player and it was a decent experience, but truly, it was only a small taste of the product. Since I always detest creating logins for websites, I did not want to sign up to try out the multiplayer.
- MINECON MADNESS: Just recently, there was a lot of media hype about the gathering called Minecon 2011. I saw a promotional video and news story about the event, detailing that the full version of the game was going to be released. The price tag was pretty hefty and I wasn't budging, but I could feel the tug.
- MINECRAFT ON THE BRAIN: More videos. The Fine Bros. on youtube, host a weekly web show called "Kid's React" They show a group of kids various viral videos and such, and record their reaction to them. On this particular episode, they showed the kids the Minecon promo video, and talked to them about the game.
- OK, I'M IN TROUBLE: On the android market, a free limited version of Minecraft became available. I downloaded the app, but I knew that it wouldn't completely satisfy my growing Minecraft appetite.
- THERE'S NO TURNING BACK NOW: I went back to minecraft.net. Okay, fine. I guess since it IS free, and I guess it's just ONE more login. I tried multiplayer classic, and started playing the creative version. Aside from some "drive-by griefing", I had a blast with some of my creations.
- I'VE GOT A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS: I had already told a friend of mine about the growing obsession with the game and that I was thinking of writing up an article on it. Then the last straw broke. I found a link to a PC pcgamer demo of the game and downloaded it. The free demo gives you 100 minutes of playing time (which you can reset with a new world). It was an older version of the game, but I knew immediately that I was hooked.
So one purchase and a few bleary-eyed nights later, I have to say that I am very happy with my temporary insanity. I don't know if it is the "man vs wild" aspect, the creative, the adventurer aspect of it (my skin, by the way, is a blocky Indiana Jones) or what, but I do love my Minecraft.
Try one of the links above at your own peril. You never know, you may not be able to resist the pull either. (did that sound like a dare?)
I guess that the ultimate proof of infiltration is that I heard my son the other day exclaim, "stinkin' creeper!" The invasion is now complete.
Friday, November 25, 2011
The internet is full of people giving thanks during this holiday season. Family, friends and home; all things that this geek is also truly thankful for. I knew that I wanted to do a post about my appreciation of these things as well.
For this particular post, though, I wanted to take a slightly different tack then the norm. This Thanksgiving has really reinforced for me, the importance of giving thanks through adversity. Though my circumstances this holiday were certainly far from horrific, I did find myself in circumstances that allowed me to give thanks through some minor inconveniences and annoyances.
1) My kids got very sick, the night before Thanksgiving. Both were coughing and miserable. One had a temperature of 102.
----Grateful for a good mommy to help them and love them through these times.
2) The Doctor said take them to the emergency room as a precaution.
----Grateful that we have insurance and that there were doctors and nurses trained and willing to help us.
3) With the holiday, the pharmacy would not be open until more then a day later.
----Grateful that the hospital was willing to give my child the initial dose to get him through
4) I was asked not to come see my parents home for Thanksgiving. There was a fear that I would be introducing a nasty virus to a grandmother and a baby niece.
----While disappointed at not getting to go to see my family, I was grateful for the delicious care package of food delivered to us, early Thanksgiving afternoon.
5) I kept getting interrupted while messing around on the computer by a wife needing things, one son sick and grumpy, and the other constantly wanting to play with me.
----So grateful for a family who need and value me, and actually want to spend time with me.
6) Didn't get to sleep in my own bed (the kids were piled in with mom in our makeshift recovery ward).
----Grateful for a roof over me and a relatively comfortable sleep through the night.
7) I had to try and think up a good post to put up on the blog.
----Grateful for the precious freedom of speech in this wonderful country, to speak my mind to others without fear. I am also, of course, grateful for you. You took time out of your day to read this entry, and I am humbled and thankful.
May God bless you and your family abundantly this season. I hope that you always take the time to look around you and recognize the many things that you can truly be grateful for.
~ ~ ~ ~
I looked for a relevant quote for today, and found two good ones:
"If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart." ~Socrates
"We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, 'Why did this happen to me?' unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way." ~Author Unknown
Friday, November 11, 2011
It never ceases to amaze me, how every successive generation of kids, are so inherently able to quickly pick up and adapt to the latest technology.
I saw a video posted online of a woman who filmed her infant daughter, playing with mommy's iPad. She was opening and closing her fingers, moving and adjusting the picture on the screen. Later, she handed her daughter a magazine, where the infant took it, and tried to manipulate the pictures inside and on the cover with her fingers. Frustrated, she ultimately pleaded to get the one back that did something.
The mom's comment at the end of the video was:
"For my 1 year old daughter, a magazine is an iPad that does not work. It will remain so for her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded part of her OS."
Okay, I don't know about the whole iBaby inference, but I certainly agree that kids quickly pick up tech.
I had a fun example of this the other day with my just turned five year old. In the mornings when I get up, I like to grab my tablet to read my Bible, check out the Amazon free app of the day and toodle around a bit until I have to take my shower. Usually about that time, my oldest is up, and wants to have a go at Daddy's favorite toy.
When I am finishing getting ready, I will have to warn him "You have about two minutes, then Daddy needs to take it with me, so I can go to work." That day, I decided to give him a treat. "I tell you what, man. One time offer, just for today. How about I leave it with you guys this morning, and just pick it up later when I come home for lunch." He replied in the coolest kind of voice he could muster "Ohhhh Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh!!"
Later at work, I was regaling my friend at work with this tale, when I realized something. The Internet on my tablet was still turned on. Oooops! I have only been tripped up a couple times by kids making an in-app purchases on my friend, but maybe today I would stay safe.
When I returned from home and checked my tablet notifications, I saw that indeed a purchase had been attempted, but blocked. I noticed that the airplane mode (block all internet) had been enabled. Phew! I thanked Mrs. Geek for switching off the internet for me. She said that she didn't know how to do that kind of stuff. Sure enough, I checked with my boy and he had selected the notification bar, clicked on the settings tool, and toggled on the airplane mode. He had seen that I did that for them, and knew that I would want it done.
That's my little geek! A computer chip off the ol' block.
**Click the picture at the top of the article if you would actually like to order those bumper stickers. They were a collaboration between Think Geek and another technology blog called Geek Dad.**
Sunday, November 6, 2011
It was a Saturday, November the 5th. The head geek wanted to take out his sweetie on a date. A good friend from work who was involved in the theater, had mentioned an upcoming performance that his wife was involved in, and it seemed like the perfect venue for our little "night on the town".
The finest laid plans of mice and men had been made. Another very good friend/co-worker and his wife had graciously agreed to supervise our progeny whilst we were gone. Though there were reports of a minor revolt in progress at their household (not unusual for small children countries, such as theirs), one half of the daring duo was able to break away and lend us a hand. Armed with a Game Cube, Netflix computer password, remote control and instructions; we left our liberator and bade a fond farewell.
In the car, your typically trivial husband and wife conversation ensued. "You remember how to get there, right?" "I'm pretty sure." (beware of the Ides of March, eh?) The Geek's wife had given him a choice of three different restaurants. After choosing one and inquiring inside, the 30-35 minute wait time made him rethink his plans. After not too tortuously a drive later, we arrived at one of the alternate destinations. No waiting? Score!
The food was delicious of course, but I ate way too much. I tried carnitas there for the first time. Not bad, actually. After paying the bill, it was off to the ATM to get the cash necessary for tickets. and then on to the theater. After cruising around the area where we were "pretty sure" that the theater was located, we were "pretty sure" that we needed help. A quick phone call to our hero back at the home front, and we were back on track. Like a Tom Tom, he helped us recalculate our route.
We arrived a few minutes after 8pm to pick up our tickets. We were met with a look of dread by one of the staff who endeavored to find us a place of rest in the sold out community theater. She came back and had found exactly two seats. Huzzah!!!!! Unfortunately, they were in two separate parts of the theater. Ooooooooo. Relatively undaunted, my wife and I plunged ahead. She took the high road, and I the lower. After a short bout of shimmying and squeezing, I made it to my seat.
From where I was seated, I could see a direct path to my wife at the back. I smiled, and would look back at regular intervals to gauge her reaction and catch her glance (we were after all, on a date. Long distance to be sure, but certainly still a date) On about the fifth look back I realized there was a lady about two rows back and over that did not know the rest of this story. From her vantage point, I was just the psychotic man that kept staring in her direction. After that, I kept my gaze in a more forward position to avoid any further misunderstandings.
The play was a a quaint little comedic murder mystery called the Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop. My wife and I enjoyed it, and were glad that throughout our date, we were able to keep our sense of humor. Life is truly unscripted.
I love you Mrs. Geek!
**EDITOR'S NOTE: Okay, am I not the only one that totally "geeked out" when I read the first line of my entry? Saturday, November 5th? Great Scott!!!! Gotta love being a geek. ;-) **
Monday, October 10, 2011
Here is a list of my top 20 dad moment movies. Join me as we look through years of cinema to find the dad scenes that made a lasting and emotional connection.
Did these movies make your top list? Leave your comments below, about what which dad scenes in movies over the years, have made an impact on you.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - I am a huge Indiana Jones fan, so this one had to make it in to my top twenty. Seeing Indy (JU-nior) and his dad interact is a pleasure. No matter where we roam in our lives, there is no escaping the bonds of family. Interestingly the fourth installment of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the dad theme continues with his own son. It's a shame that Sean Connery had retired; it would have been great to see three generations of Jones'es on the silver screen.
Rock-A-Bye Baby - This isn't the first movie that comes to mind when people think about Dad movies. Admittedly, it is campy and cheesy, but it's cute. The late night baby feeding scene brings back a memory or two for me, and you will enjoy the lullaby duet of "Dormi, Dormi, Dormi" Very sweet. (An interesting note, Jerry sings a duet with himself as a child, played by his real life son Gary)
Star Wars Return of The Jedi - Obviously, one of the most iconic movie franchises, of all time. Who can ever forget the infamous line "No, I am your Father." It is a movie that shows the powerful bond between father and son. My son has said to me on many occasions, that if I ever go to the bad guys team, that he will keep coming for me until go back to the good guys team. The influence of George Lucas on the world..and my family.
Liar Liar - The importance of keeping your word to your children. Jim Carrey's character learns this the hard way, when his son's wish forces him to tell the truth for 24 hours. You can't keep from smiling when dad attacks him with "the claw"
Forrest Gump - It is so poigniant to see Forrest in that moment that he finds out that he is a father. "I named him after his Daddy. / He got a daddy named Forrest, too? / You're his daddy, Forrest." He then expresses the concern of "but,.....is he smart, or is he". It was very inspiring to see him caring for and teaching little Forrest about life.
Apollo 13 - This scene always stands out in my mind. Tom Hank's character talking to his son about the upcoming mission. The vulnerability of the son as he asks about the fire, and the open "back and forth" between them.
To Kill a Mockingbird - The quiet strength of the Atticus character. Living a life of principle in front of his children and in the community. I loved the scene when his youngest sees the respect that others had for her father "Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing." There is truly no greater lesson that we will teach our kids, than by how we live in front of them.
Finding Nemo - It is hard to let go. We love our children and want to protect them, but we must allow them the chance to grow and thrive. Marlin learns this important truth in his relentless quest to find his son.
Searching For Bobby Fischer - A dad discovers that his young child has an amazing talent for chess. He and other adults in the child's life begin to push the boy to be the best, while the boy struggles to find his own identity. I love the scene where the parents are locked out of the competition and must hear about the action, play by play from the other children. An important lesson about the difference between pushing and encouragement.
Neverwas - I had not heard of this movie in any advertisements, but I stumbled across this one in the aisles of the video store one day. It included Ian McKellen of Lord Of The Rings fame, so I thought that I would check it out. I very much enjoyed it. A tale of a son reconnecting with his dad (a famous author) years after he had died. He did so, through some of his writings and interviews, as well as a curious, institutionalized old man that was closely connected to his father. He was able to see is dad through the eyes of others and finally come to an understanding of how much he had really been loved by his dad.
Big Fish - This was another adult child reconciling with his dad movies. His dad was an avid story teller, and the son always felt a disconnect with him. Only when his dad is close to death, is he able to see his dad's heart that was in the stories the whole time. A very happy/sad moment as his son is able to open up his own imagination and finally bond with his father.
It's a Wonderful Life - This is among my favorite movies of all time. The emotional scene where he is with his family just before Christmas. The weight of the whole world seems to be on his two shoulders and he clings to his youngest child. Then we he has had his life changing experience and returns, tearfully reunited again with his family who loves him.
An American Tail - I get emotional, when near the end of the movie, he is traveling the city and searching for his long lost son. They hear one another and they finally meet in a warm and loving embrace. It is a reminder about how much I love my own two sons and would search the world for them as well.
Signs - I loved some of the interactions of the dad in this movie. He has lost his wife and his hope, but through it all, his love for his family is still there. There is a particularly "gut wrenching" scene where Mel Gibson's character is trying to get his son through an asthma attack. I also enjoyed the time that he helps his children through a perilous ordeal by reminiscing with them about how each came into his world at birth.
Field of Dreams - I have seen that there have been many who have picked out this particular scene as one of their favorites. A man builds a baseball field and comes face to face with his father as a young man. Voice cracking, as his dad begins to leave, "Hey, Dad? You wanna have a catch?" Time is so short; live it to the fullest.
Frequency - I really love this movie a lot. A boy loses a beloved father at an early age and through a miraculous set of circumstances, they are able to communicate over time through an old ham radio. A far fetched concept, to be sure, but it is so touching to watch this boy and his dad, who obviously love each other very much. They are able to bridge in just a few minutes, the years that had separated them. The son's face and voice when the dad says "You're still my little chief, right? / Yeah, I'm trying to be. I'm trying."
Jaws - As a dad, this has to be one of the cutest scenes out there for me. Roy Scheider's character had been through a horrific day. Sitting down at the dining room table and lost in his thoughts, he doesn't see that his young son is copying his every move. Picking up a glass, hands to his head, hands folded in front of him. When he finally does notice, there is a little playful exchange. Later he says "Come here. Give us a kiss." The boy asks, "Why?" He replies, "Because I need it." (Someone did a funny parody of this scene. You can see it here)
Lion King - I enjoy the playful, yet serious talks that the father and son have in this movie. Power with tenderness. Later, when the dad sees his son in peril, he uses every last bit of strength to save him. Ultimately, it comes at the cost of his life, but it was given willingly and out of the deepest love.
I Am Sam - A mentally retarded father, doing the best that he can to raise his daughter. Even though she is becoming smarter than he, his love as a dad never falters. It is heartbreaking to see as they both struggle to stay together as forces conspire to break them up. Grab your Kleenex, man.
Deep Impact - There were a lot of great dad scenes in this movie. A father hands over his infant child to his daughter, resigned with his own fate, but willing give her a chance at hope. There was a very touching scene of a dad reconciling with his daughter on the beach in their last moments on earth. The one, however, that almost always makes a huge lump in my throat is when an astronaut who had been blinded, says goodbye to his wife and newly born son. "His name is Oren. I named him after you. Hello, Oren. Show him what you brought him. He's holding up a little rocket. That's a mighty powerful rocket you got there. He's laughing. I can hear him. I know. I'm hugging you both right now. I'm holding you."
2010 - It was cute to see the dad, as he tries to explain space travel to his young son.
A Few Good Men - I liked it when he was musing about whether his dad would have been proud of him.
Cheaper By The Dozen - A dozen kids and chaos, but he still maintains his sense of humor.
Father of the Bride - It's hard to wake up and see your children grown up. Life is so short and precious.
Hook - When he finally wakes up to life around him, he realizes that his happy thought is is son.
Independence Day - Will Smith has some cute scenes with his son, but my favorites are between Jeff Goldblum and his adult father.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Kind of a departure from the rest of this list. More of a tragic father and son relationship. After his one son is killed in battle, the father in mourning blames his other son. The son reaches out to his father through the pain. "Is there a captain here who still has the courage to do his lord's will? / You wish now that our places had been exchanged... that I had died and Boromir had lived. / Yes. I wish that. / Since you are robbed of Boromir... I will do what I can in his stead. If I should return, think better of me, Father. / That will depend on the manner of your return."
Life With Father - An oldie, but a goodie.
Mrs. Doubtfire - Can you imagine having Robin Williams for a dad?
Papa's Delicate Condition - An amazing bond between father and daughter.
The Sandlot - I liked the awkward interplay between the boy and his step dad.
See How They Run - An old serious role for Leslie Nielsen. It was sweet when he made his birthday wish and when he put his children to bed. His love and wisdom have an effect on his children, even after his death.
Sleepless in Seattle - The struggles of a widowed dad.
The Santa Clause - "I love you Santa Clause. I love you son."
Tron Legacy - I enjoyed it when he was talking with his son at the beginning of the movie. "We're always on the same team." Also later, I liked when he reunites with his son, saying "You're here. You're big." He replies, "You're..." "old."
Sunday, September 18, 2011
It started out the way any normal day would; one full of hope and promise. It was a Sunday, so the normal routine of motivating the troops into their appropriate attire and into our chosen mode of transportation, was the order of the day.
General Dad knew his two young soldiers could use some extra inspiration, so he put in a training film of sorts, highlighting where this afternoon's theater of operations would take place. We would be doing some fun maneuvers later that day at Tanganyika Wildlife Park, a kind of a mini outdoor animal preserve. Kid's motivated; mission accomplished.
The rest of the morning went well. Before leaving the church, I changed into some more comfortable duds, ready for the day to begin. That is where the fiasco began. I had noticed that even though I had remembered shorts, shirt and socks, I had neglected to bring some tennis shoes. No harm done, the house was on the way, and Mommy was quite willing to stop by there to let me pick them up. (What she wasn't willing to do was to let me walk around in white sports socks and black dress shoes. Her tolerance for nerdy attire only goes so far.)
We dropped by the house and went inside to play tennis shoe hunt. It is a fun game where you look all around the house to no avail, returning to the original place you looked, to discover that there were merely camouflaged by an article of clothing. Okay, zooming out the door with socks on and shoes in hand. The voice of reason began to kick in. I was in a hurry but, I knew that I should stop to put them on.
I glanced out the door. The cement looked dry enough. Aaaaaaaah, why not? I locked the door, stepped out, SQUISH! Oh, crumbs, that's why not. Of course, I should have turned around right then and there, unlocked the door and gotten another pair. Not today. They weren't really too wet, so I sprinted to the car and once inside, removed the wet 'fellas. My wife asked if I was going back in, but I told her that I had it under control.
On the highway. Mad genius that I was, I put together the equation:
Wet Socks + Cracked Window X Highway Velocity = Semi Dry Socks
Mindful that I would be doing the very thing that I have told my sons that they should never do, I made a big speech about "Only Daddy's are allowed to do this, because if you stick things out of the window, you could lose them. Only Daddy can hang on to them tight enough, not to lose them."
The plan began to work perfectly. I cracked the window, and with a firm grasp, I let the little guy flap frantically in the wind. After a short time, I pulled him back in to check the progress. Still a bit wet. No problem. One more time in the jet stream, when of course an inevitable ffffffWHIP!!!! In a split second, my lonely sock hurtled through the air, never to be seen again.
My wife was kind enough not to bust out laughing, but I still had to eat plenty of crow, while telling my boys that I had blown it. All was not lost, as we stopped by a dollar store where I bought a $1 pair of socks. We made it to the event where upon meeting up with some dear friends, I began to regale them with my foot tale.
Ready for the "kicker": After my story was complete, I realized I was barefooted in my tennis shoes, new socks back in the car. Ugggggghhhhhh!
One additional "foot" note. I am wearing the socks right now as I am typing this blog, and they feel fantastic! All's well that ends well. Until next time...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I must admit that in June of this year, a wonderful little electronic friend came into my life. Scraping together a portion of my tax refund and husband allowances, I purchased an Asus Eee Pad Transformer. I have been in love ever since. My wife calls it the "other woman", but she freely admits that her Apple iPad is the "boyfriend."
I love the fact that it is portable, powerful and with the myriad of apps available, extremely useful. I am better organized and frequently entertained by my computerized companion.
I decided to start a page on this blog to list some of the neat apps that she and I have found for our respective toys. Be sure to check out my new Mobile Apps Super List to see some of what we have found. The list itself is, and will continue to be a work in progress. Each of the app titles are linked to their respective landing pages, allowing for easy download access.
So what do you think? Let me know.
Signing off...for now.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Just a quick observation that I had today at my dad job.
I have come to believe that the phenomena, affectionately known as the Bermuda Triangle, has mysteriously relocated to within the four walls of my home. It is the only rational explanation of why "Blankies", toys and shoes are all where they should be before I leave for work, only to inexplicably vanish by the time I return again.
That unsolved mystery would be troublesome enough, if it were not complicated by the fact that their disappearing act is only discovered at the time when their use is required. At bed time and leaving for the park, their loss is acutely and sorely felt.
Detective Dad, begins his questioning. Where did you put them? Where did you have them last? What did you do when you came home from school? The insidious amnesic side effects, undoubtedly a direct result of the Triangle kick in. "I dunno, I dunno, I dunno"
Disturbing yet fascinating. Perhaps science will someday uncover this amazing mystery.
At least being a dad is never boring. I look forward to our next post.