Thursday, August 30, 2007

Too many consoles, so little time

Video games are insidious, evil, and totally addictive. We got the xbox 360 a couple of weeks ago (bought from a friend for cheap) so we now have all three game consoles in this house (we are such kids!). The good thing is my friend also has tons of xbox games so he loaned a few to us to start out with. In the few weeks we've been playing I've learned a few things about the various consoles.

The Wii is a great family console with some very fun games but nothing too serious. Zelda is a nice launch title and they did finally release Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on tuesday but most Wii games are cutsy and fun and the graphics are average.

The PS3 has really nice graphics and we like it as a blue-ray high definition dvd & network player. Unfortunately since it's only been out for a short while there aren't a lot of good games yet. I have really enjoyed Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PS3 and Super Stardust (a downloadable arcade game) but no other games have really caught my attention.

The Xbox has been out a year longer than the other consoles so there are a lot more games out for it. Plus the Xbox does a fantastic job of online play with a web interface. Most of the games have online play ability and all games have achievement points you unlock as you progress through the games. This score is part of your gamer tag (name). This is a fantastic way to sticky a player to the xbox since you want to increase your gamer score so you continue to play games on the xbox.

The PS3 and Wii are supposed to have online play ability but doesn't even compare to the current capabilities of the xbox.

I like the Wii controls--more simplified, less buttons, easier to use. I'm also a huge fan of Metroid Prime and I'm hoping they create a Pikmin 3 in the near future. I'm very disappointed with the online abilities of the Wii and wish there were more games out there that I liked.

I would consider the PS3 and Xbox similar-type consoles--more RPG, sports, action, horror games--but the xbox is far advanced in games and online play than the PS3.

If I only had a choice of one console, I think I would have to choose the xbox over the other two (with Wii as a close second). That's saying a lot as I've always been a huge nintendo console/handheld fan.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Annual stitching weekend

This was our 4th (my 3rd) annual stitching weekend retreat. In the past, every summer we'd reserve a cabin at Coolfont WV for a long weekend (fri-sat) getaway of just snacking and stitching. Coolfont was a great place because there is nothing but nature surrounding us, very little cell signal, and massage services. Unfortunately Coolfont was bought by new owners last year who decided to shut it down and completely renovate it (which is good because it was getting pretty awful) so we needed a new location. Luckily my parents have this great little house in Harper's Ferry WV right by the Shenandoah River and its only an hour away from home (less for those out further west). We all packed up our stuff and headed there on friday.

The weather was just gorgeous. First two days were warm enough to head out to the water, wade in, and enjoy the warm sun. The rest of the time we stuffed our faces and stitched whatever we felt like. I think the sleep-deprivation from Harper made it really hard for me to concentrate. I had to frog out my stitching on three different occasions! After I accidentally dumped out my floss box (Sue was nice enough to put it back together for me), I called it quits and knitted a dishcloth instead. Course being a bit batty, I chose one of the more difficult dishcloths to knit (lots of various cables) so I had to restart it after a miscount somewhere. As frustrating as the stitching was, I had a fabulous time hanging out with the girls (7 of us total) and a pretty little Noah baby.

Can't wait to do it again next year!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Howling house alarm

I don't know how parents can be sleep-deprived for months without losing their sanity. Three days so far and I'm feeling pretty nasty. Harper is still rather high-strung about noises and she's now including a bit of howling within her bark, very beagle-like. When she hears something unfamiliar, she'll start barking/howling loudly; not just one or two barks but several in a row. She's been sleeping in our room at night on the floor, but the past three nights some noise wakes her up and she starts barking like mad. Mike and I are light sleepers so waking up to full volume barking wreaks havoc with our systems. We were hoping that she'd calm down to the various noises in the house after a few days but that doesn't appear to be happening yet. The next step may be to crate her in the family room at night and close our door. Course I don't think that will stop her barking but at least it won't be directly in our face.

Harper initiated play with Max last night! I was so proud when Max actually played with Harper for a short period before escaping into the crate. They've played a little tug-o-war with toys so far and a little bit of light wrestling. Harper is getting along quite well with our babies, although she is still really smitten with Sheba! Poor Sheba hasn't been this pawed in years.

Picture of Harper playing ball outside (she tore up a pad playing so we had to wrap it up). Couple more good shots of Harper here

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Harper foster

We got a new foster in the house on Saturday. Harper is a 2.5 year old yellow girl. She looks very american/field but she has the softest fur which makes her extremely pettable. She's terrific with people, she loves affection and she behaves well, very much a sweetie-pie. Harper is a retrieving maniac! Not only will she play for as long as you throw for her (or until she passes out for a few minutes), but she has a nose that will sniff out ANY tennis ball ANYWHERE. She found old shredded balls all over the yard, even one under a pine tree. When we're indoors, we take away the tennis balls, so she brings us stuffed toys to retrieve.

While she's a really sweet dog with people, she has some issues with other dogs. Introductions with new dogs is always tough, lots of snarling, growling, snapping but after some time she settles right down and is fine. After the first intro, she's been fine with ours with the exception of a couple small incidents. At one point while retrieving, Max decided to get the ball thrown for Harper cause he was close to it. They both went to retrieve the ball, Max got there first and began to pick up the ball. Harper did NOT like that and bit poor Max on the chin. Max is fine, at this point he's gotten bullied, bitten, and intimidated by so many foster dogs that we expected this to happen. He just has another war wound to brag about. They've been fine together since then as long as Max doesn't get too close to Harper's face when she has a ball in her mouth.

Funny about Harper is that she plays EXACTLY like Sheba used to. Harper will dance on her front feet, playbow, then paw at Sheba's chest and back. Sheba is old and cranky at this point so she'll just bark at Harper. Too bad Harper doesn't want to play with Max, I think they could get some good wrestling/chasing sessions in.

Still haven't taken any pictures of Harper but I'll post them once we do.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Arfing maniac

For the past month or so, Sheba has become more frisky and energetic. The odd thing is that she doesn't want to play more (as evidenced when we try to play ball or go for long walks) but she wants more attention! She's decided that arfing is the best way to get attention that she so richly deserves. Unfortunately the frequency of the arfing has increased to the point of annoyance. It was very cute in the beginning but now when she starts, she won't stop! Sheba tried this while I was in the middle of a frustrating bout of Ninja Gaiden Sigma a few days ago. In my annoyance, I tossed her and Max outside and shut the door on them. In exasperation, I actually banished my baby outside for a good 5 minutes.

Mike and I decided this behavior has got to stop so we broke out the spray bottles of water. Last night when she arfed at me, I gave her a good squirt in the face. She looked so surprised and hurt but she did stop. When I tried to approach her to praise her, she shied away afraid I would spray her again. Boy, did I feel awful. We had to spray her one more time that night but it seems to have worked (so far). She's back to chuffing and one arf but none of that consistent, mind-piercing arfing. I'm hoping not to use the spray bottle again, so I hope she's learned.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Gaming fatigue?

Is it possible to play video games long enough to temporarily fry your brain? Spent a large amount of time today playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma on our new PS3. After reading through an FAQ, I realized I missed a large number of various jewels and misused my funds in the store (buying the wrong things) so I figured I'd start the game over again. I was able to do much better this time around but it still took me a few hours to back to Chapter 3, then I got a little further but had to stop before the third boss because i just couldn't work my brain any further. I tried Super Stardust but I couldn't get my mind wrapped around it either so I had to call it a night. I would definitely say I'm addicted to Ninja Gaiden Sigma (although I do die a LOT) and Super Stardust.

Unfortunately my stitching has been suffering because of my console playtime. I have got to finish my mailart and send it out the first week of September, but I haven't even started it. Thank goodness I already planned it out, I just need to stitch it at this point. THEN I have an autumn/halloween exchange which I haven't started either. So many things to do, so little time.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Joy of Ebay

Whew, busy couple of days for us. We actually bought a PS3 to replace our dvd/network drive. The network drive player is awesome in that we can download movies/tv shows and watch them on the tv, but the dvd player was AWFUL. We finally pulled it out and put in one of our old dvd players, but that one seems a bit on the fritz too. Mike decided to get the PS3 because its one of the cheaper better high-def players AND it now has network functionality too. We used our Visa reward points to get some GC for Best Buy and splurged. Course we've also gotten hooked on some great download and PS3 games: Lemmings, Super Stardust, Oblivion (Mike), and Ninja Gaiden (Kathie).

We did take a few hours out of today to sell our old loot on Ebay though. Actually Mike had put the link player on ebay last week and it finally expired today. We got a nice chunk of change for it, so I decided to put our Gamecube and some games on ebay today. With a "Buy it Now" option, it went in literally 5 minutes so I did the same with our PS3 and games and that sold in about 15 minutes!! Ebay is great!!!

Now to play more PS3 until we drop.