Monday, December 30, 2013

Update on 2013 resolutions

At the beginning of the year I had three resolutions:
  1. I am resolved to be more intentional with how I spend my time.
  2. I am resolved to play my guitar in 2013.
  3. I am resolved to read 20 books in 2013.
I am proud to say that all three have been met.  While I have not been perfect with my time allotment, I have spent noticeably less time idly browsing through Youtube,,, and other internet time wasters.  If I watch TV, it is almost always to watch a specific show.  I still play too much Football Manager on my computer, but nobody's perfect.

I did get back to playing my guitar this year, and have built up some good callouses and got my skills pretty much back where they were a few years ago.  Now, for 2014, I need to make the next step to actually learning how to play the Blues.  I keep saying I'm going to do it, but it doesn't happen.  Maybe this is the year to force the issue.

As far as books go, I read 27 books in 2013.  Granted, I was unemployed for 3+ months, which provided me extra time to read that I didn't have before, but I still got a lot of books knocked off the "to read" list this year.  Now if I could just keep from adding books to that list, I might actually start making progress...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thoughts on NHL Center Ice

This NHL season I purchased the Center Ice package, which lets me watch most NHL games live.  As with all of these kinds of packages, I don't get live games being shown on a national network (usually the NBC Sports Network), and I am not supposed to get games from my local team, the St. Louis Blues.  I usually watch the games through the Center Ice app on my Playstation 3, and for the most part it works quite well.  Like with the MLB package, a lousy internet feed will result in choppy or grainy video, but for the most part my internet service from U-verse is sufficient to the task.  Video quality actually appears to be getting better as the season goes, but whether that is something that the NHL is improving, or just random luck, I can not tell.

So, some thoughts.
1.  When the season started, I found myself watching a lot of Montreal games, and I have now moved to watching a lot of Detroit games.  What's up with that?
2.  I really like watching Canadian broadcasts.  Part of this is the fun of seeing Canadian commercials.  Sometimes the NHL feeds cut out commercials and intermission discussions, but more often than not I get to see those.  I have no idea how or why the NHL decides whether to show commercials or not, but for whatever reason I like seeing commercials for businesses that have nothing to do with me.
3.  I would deeply like to have Chris Osgood's hair.
4.  I can watch St. Louis Blues games live!!!  I'm not supposed to, but about 20 games into the season the NHL Center Ice app had a really weird error where it basically dumped all its data and I had to re-initialize it on my Playstation 3.  After doing so, though, I am not blacked out from my local team's games, so I'm not complaining.
5.  $150 is kind of a lot to pay just to watch hockey games, but it's worth it.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Combat Commander: Mediterranean

A little over a year ago I wrote about the game Combat Commander: Europe.  Today I am writing about the first major expansion for the game, Combat Commander: Mediterranean.  Where the original game included counters and cards for Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States of America, the Mediterranean expansion includes France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Italy.  Actually, each of the three new decks and counters actually cover multiple factions.  For example, the Italian deck is used for all "minor" Axis powers (Hungary, etc.), where the French deck is used for minor allied powers, and the British deck is used for all parts of the alliance, including ANZAC and Canadian forces.  The box comes with new maps and a new playbook, as well, including new scenarios featuring the new forces and an expanded random scenario generator to include the new forces.

The basic gameplay is not changed by this expansion, but because the new forces have their own decks of cards, they play differently.  For example, the British deck has a lot of "Marksman" actions and a lot of Reform orders, to reflect the high accuracy with rifles and the "stiff upper lip" reputation that they had.  And God help you if you get stuck with the Italians, as their deck has a lot of "Command Confusion" in it, and you can only discard one card with a discard action.  One!  Italy, I weep for you.

If you like the Combat Commander system, as I do, then this is a great expansion to have.  If you don't like the system, then this expansion will not change your mind.