Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Setting the Bar High

Since we are working out of town, my colleague, Daniel, wanted to go to a Royals game yesterday evening. Zack Greinke was pitching, so I figured I should tag along. Daniel is a big sports fan, so I imagine we will be hitting some more games before our project is done at the end of September. Anyway, we headed out to Kauffman Stadium with no tickets, planning on buying some at the ticket counter. A hundred feet or so before we reached the ticket counter, an older gentlemen came up to us and asked us if we wanted to buy his tickets. He wanted $10 for each of them. We decided that this was a good deal, considering that the seats were 14 rows behind the visitor's dugout in the lower section. Those tickets would cost at least $40 normally, if not more. I guess that man really wanted to sell those tickets. So, yeah, great seats. Also, it was free T-shirt Tuesday, so now I have a KC Royals T-shirt, which is one more than I have of STL Cardinals T-shirts.

It turns out that Kauffman Stadium is a really nice ballpark. It isn't fancy, but it has a good setup, and it didn't look like there were hardly any bad seats in the place. I would definitely go see more ballgames there. I also really like their new screen, which is built in the shape of the Royals "crown on top of home plate" logo, and it was very different seeing a screen that was taller than it was wide, but I really liked it.

The big thing, though, was getting to watch Zack Greinke, the ace of the Royals staff, not only beat his own personal strikeout record of 11 in an game, but set the Royals all-time franchise record for striekouts in a game with 15. Fifteen. The guys behind us working the K count ran out of pre-made K sheets, and had to resort to ripping pages out of a program and writing "K" on them with a sharpie so they could hang them up. So, in my first Royals game ever, I got to see history made. And we got T-shirts. And we got awesome seats for $10 each. As Dan said as we left the stadium yesterday, "I know we're going to some more games next month, so hopefully we haven't set the bar too high already." Yeah, I'm not sure how we're gonna top this one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

KC Stylin'

Greetings from Overland Park, Kansas! I am here most days from now until the end of September, working on a project at the US Department of Agriculture office in Kansas City, helping them figure out how many computer systems they have. It promises to be quite boring, but it pays the bills. My colleague and I do plan to hit at least one Royals game during this project, which should prove interesting. I have driven past Kaufman Stadium many times, but I have never actually been in there. If anything exciting happens, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Being a General Manager is Hard

As I believed I have mentioned earlier, I started playing Eastside Hockey Manager a few weeks ago. Well, I have now played it long enough that I have five full seasons under my belt as the GM of the St. Louis Blues. You know how many Stanley Cups I have won in that entire time? Zero. At least I made it to the finals three seasons ago, though that was only to be the face getting hit by the fist of the Ottawa Senators. I'm currently in a slight re-building mode after getting knocked out of the playoffs in the second round for the second year in a row, but the talented free agents either want too much money, or they don't want to play for my team. At least I got the owners to up the player budget this season for the first time ever, but I'm having trouble finding people who want to take my money (well, players who I think are worth it who want to take my money; losers are easy to find). Plus I know I have a brewing problem at my goalie position, but none of my prospects are really panning out properly. I almost feel sorry for Larry Pleau, know, having to put up with this kind of stuff in real life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Footy?

Today marked the start of the English Premier League '09/'10 season, and my Arsenal got off to amazing form, slapping around a hapless Everton 6-1 (and that Everton goal was a gift to them, really). If you haven't ever watched much soccer, any goal differential higher than 3 is an absolute shellacing, and I can't even imagine how brutal it must have been for the home-side Everton fans to watch it. Perhaps kind of like that 10-2 game I saw back in '02 where the Washington Capitals got hammered by Ottawa, but you occasionally get games like that in hockey; giving up 6 goals in a soccer match is practically unheard of at the top flight. I do not have high hopes for Arsenal this season, but if they can keep up this form I may have to revise my predictions.

The Car as Money Sink

I had a new experience on Thursday; after spending the evening at my parents' house visiting with my brother and sister-in-law, who were in from Florida for a visit, I went out to the driveway to get in my car and drive home, when I discovered that the driver's side window was gone. After a moment of panic I was able to determine that it wasn't busted out, but instead had simply fallen down of its own power into the door frame. Some minor detective work discovered that the tension cable had come off its moorings, and when I tried to move the window up using the electric moter it sounded like the motor also had a problem. So, the car is now at Dobbs getting fixed. I know that people always talk about how their homes are money pits, sucking away all their free cash, but I'm pretty sure that cars are close seconds in that race. Ah, well, it's only money.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Aaron being Aaron

One of the things that I have noticed about myself over the years, that I haven't ever noticed with anyone else, is the fact that I will occasionally get myself all set up to do something, and then not actually do it for a while, sometimes even for years. As a small example, let me point out that during my university years I discovered the band Sixpence None the Richer, and I wanted to get their album This Beautiful Mess. This led to me doing nothing to actually accomplish that goal for about three years, when I was wandering through the One Way bookstore on Manchester Blvd., saw it on the shelf, and I thought "Aaron, it is time to get that album." So I bought it then. Why did I not buy it before? I don't know, I just never really felt like doing it, even though I wanted to.

So this brings me to today. This afternoon, I finished playing through the video game Sakura Taisen 3. I have owned this game since either late 2002 or early 2003, I'm not sure of the exact acquisition date. I got it as part of the Sakura Wars Complete Box, which had games 1 through 4 in the series all in one complete package. Right after getting that package, I played through the first game in the series twice (it's one of those "story games," where you make dialogue choices kind of like in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, plus you have occasional combats where your steam-punk mecha fight bad-guy steam-punk mecha. If you makes no sense at all to you, you can read about it all here.

Anyway, after that I moved to St. Louis, the Dreamcast got packed away, and I didn't play any more of the games. Fast forward to 2006, when I felt like breaking out the second game in the series, which I played for a couple weeks over Christmas break. The rest of the series sat unused until recently, when I started feeling the bug to play the next game. As is usual for me, that feeling built for a few weeks until I decided to setup the Dreamcast again and play it. Thus, over the last three weeks or so, I've spent about 35 hours playing Sakura Taisen 3. Now that it is finished, I can finally enjoy the rest of the experience.

See, in Japan, video games like this don't exist on their own. No, there are art books, and soundtrack CDs, and animated videos, and action figures, and trading cards, and pretty much every possible way of making money off of a property. Knowing about all this, when I got the Complete Box back 6+ years ago, I started looking for the rest of the associated swag. I picked up some manga, a bunch of CDs, the complete trading card set for the first game, and even a pencil board. This included stuff for all of the video games, but I have refrained from really dipping into the stuff I have until the time is right.

Case in point, I own both of the soundtrack albums for Sakura Taisen 3, but I have never listened to them before. I got the CD with the vocal songs off eBay used, so it was opened, but the full video game background music album is still in shrinkwrap, which it has been in for a good 6 years. Most people find this kind of thing odd, but I figure why ruin the experience by listening to the music before playing the game? This does mean that unopened albums sit on my CD rack for years, but if you want to do things right, you do them in the proper order. The animated video for Sakura Taisen 3 released domestically 5 years ago, and I picked up the DVD at a local Best Buy around 3 years ago for a good price. Again, it is still in shrinkwrap. However, now that I have played through the game, I get to enjoy the experience of listening to the soundtrack and watching the DVD with a full understanding of what the underlying story is supposed to be, and being able to pin specific songs to specific scenes or moods in the game.

No, I'm not finished, either. I still haven't played Sakura Taisen 4, and I have that soundtrack CD in shrinkwrap, as well. Since I played the first game in 2003, the second game in 2006, and the third game in 2009, I figure I will finally get my money's worth out of that boxed set, and finally crack open that remaining soundtrack album, sometime around 2012. Why rush it? I'm obviously not in any hurry.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Fortune Cookie, Part 6

"Your courage will guide your future."
Hong Fa Chinese Restaurant, Valley Park, MO

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I just got a phone call from Joe Carter

It was a pre-recorded message, of course, but Joe Carter, of the '92 and '93 Blue Jays champions teams, just called to invite me to a party celebrating those championship seasons. The party happens to be this weekend, in Toronto, so there is no way I'm actually going, but I think that is pretty cool. Now I know why when I bought that ticket online for the Jays game I went to in June, they wanted my phone number. I wonder what phone-spam I'll get next from my friends up north?