Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Civilization VI

I have always loved Civilization.  I have all of the games leading up to and including Civ6.  I am sorry to report that I really really really do not like Civ6.

The graphics are gorgeous, game play is smooth... but that is about all I can say that is good about it.

Things that are irritating:
1. Barbarians are far more advanced than your own civilization.  While you are barely rubbing two sticks together they are coming at you with Knights on horseback!!

2. Civ placement.  Sure, YOUR city is placed at a nice location but, unfortunately, no matter how large the map and how few AI civs you have in your game, they are all placed VERY CLOSE to your own city.  Within 500 years I am at war every time, because my neighbor walks right up to my city and drops a city.  It is extremely irritating.  Extremely.

3. Politics.  Ridiculous.  The other leaders are constantly pinging you and informing you of all your weaknesses, as they are building cities right next to you.

There are other things, I am just too frustrated at the moment to go through them all.

So to sum it up, gorgeous to look at, very smooth to play... horrible and vindictive AI.  I really do not believe it maps reality.

I am about to go create a game on a huge map with NO OTHER CIVS and somehow it will find away to destroy me... probably with massive barbarian hordes with M1 tanks at around 2000 BC.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Week With My Civic

It has been a week since I bought my Honda Civic Hatchback Sport!  I've almost hit the 500 mile mark and it gets better every day!!

Something that impressed me with this car was the fact that is larger than the previous model yet manages to weigh less, while still retaining its 5 star crash rating.

Another interesting tidbit is that at least one (if not more) automobile magazines speculate that Honda has understated the HP/Torque figures for this engine.  Not sure what testing they have done to prove/disprove this yet, but I can say it feels like more than 180 HP to me.

What I do know is this is faster than my 2004 SAAB 9-3 and handles better.  And while it does not have the leather interior, many of the materials are as good or superior to the SAAB.  (Note, this was the GM-built SAAB 9-3).

My first tank fill shows that I am only averaging just over 32 MPG...  but I think that is great considering how I have been driving this car (it is just too hard to NOT hit that gas pedal when hitting an on-ramp or leaving an intersection behind or passing people on the highway).

Monday, February 20, 2017

Honda Civic

Been tooling around in my Dodge Ram 2500 for a couple of years.  It was a great truck, 13 MPG for the most part.  Also needing serious work done (of which I did all current work, but more was in the future).  I traded her in for a new Sedan.

I have gone from truck to sedan in the past, and back again but... honestly, I did not use the truck for anything it was meant for this time around.  I made a tough decision which has a monetary penalty, but I think in the long run the right decision.

I purchased a new (2017) Honda Civic Hatchback, sport model with a six speed manual transmission (very hard to come by).

I did some research before my purchase based on size (roominess), looks and utility as well as the "fun factor."  This car met my expectations and I test drove one a week prior to purchasing this one.  I test drove a black exterior/black interior vehicle at Bell Honda but had a hard time connecting with the salesperson and as a result, the car was sold before I could make any move on it.

I then touched base with two other dealers and the dealer who was very responsive, encouraging and helpful was Earnhardt Honda in Avondale.  They said and did all the right things and I was able to find and purchase the car I wanted easily and relatively quickly.  I would recommend this dealer to anyone looking to purchase a Honda, or any of their sister dealers that sell other vehicle brands.  They were polite, knowledgeable and despite being very busy, never left me feeling like I was just waiting... they always gave me something to do or provided me with more information about the car or the process itself.

The car is very nice to drive.  Smooth power band, smooth ride, just the right amount of engine noise, and comfortable.  The interior materials feel quite rich, far nicer than prior vehicles (chevy, dodge and subaru) and on par with my wife's Mini Cooper Countryman.  The steering is sharp, no lean in hard turns...  handles very nicely.

There ARE downsides, I won't lie.  The way the various models are laid out are very inflexible in regards to options.  I am not complaining, I chose the model I chose because it had what I wanted... nothing more, nothing less.  But if I HAD wanted an option like lane changing sensors, I could not have added them.  Another less than stellar part of the vehicle is the base sound system.  I might look into replacing the speakers in the future as the sound is not very good (at least not to systems I have had in the past).  Now, I don't NEED a great sound system since I mostly listen to talk radio anymore, but still...  when I do play my iTunes playlist, I would like to feel a little substance in the music.  Other than those two things, everything else about the Civic is wonderful!

I would definitely recommend this car to anyone looking for a compact sedan.   Hondas are rated as very reliable and safe vehicles, and this Honda in particular is fun to drive.  The "modern" looks are very attractive to me, but I have heard some people find them unattractive, so if you look at the car and LIKE how it looks, then you won't be disappointed with the rest of it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Shin Gojira

Got to see the special preview on 11-OCT!  It was great!  I went into it with no expectations and I was pleasantly surprised, despite it not being exactly what I had expected.

I won't reveal anything... I will simply summarize with:

The monster was FANTASTIC!  LOVED it.  As with many Godzilla movies, there was a secondary, or perhaps a primary, plot aside from the monster.  It was serious and yet made the movie much lighter in spirit than I had expected.  It will be interesting to see how the English dubbed version compares to this subtitled version, when it arrives later this year.

And really that is about all I want to say.  Don't go into it expecting Godzilla itself to be the focal point, though it is the plot driver.  Just go to soak in a new, Japanese release of Godzilla.  :)

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why I am Conservative, Part 1

I am growing weary of being identified as sexist, misogynist, racist, etc. by people who identify themselves as "liberal", so I have decided to hobble together a few posts explaining WHY I am conservative, what it means and what it does NOT mean.  I will start with some caveats:  being conservative does NOT have anything to do with political party affiliation.  While I do more frequently vote for either Libertarian or Republican party affiliated candidates for political office, I have to state that I believe many in ALL Parties to be corrupt and self-serving, or at the very least, misguided.  I also want to state that I have liberal friends who while I do not always agree with them, are WONDERFUL, KIND people who have HUGE hearts, they have just bought into lies or haven't thought long enough or hard enough about some of the things they believe; they simply want to shower "love" on everyone.    I am hoping the reasons for the aforementioned will become clear as I write.

I will address certain issues that are important to me, and I believe should be important to everyone, starting with abortion.  If you are, or know an embryologist or a biologist who is knowledgeable in regards to the human reproductive cycle, I am hoping you agree with my lay-person statements, but if not, feel free to correct me.

A human is created at the moment of conception, that is, when a male reproductive cell binds with a female reproductive cell.  At that moment, a cell of unique and complete set of DNA is created, and that cell IMMEDIATELY begins partitioning itself to build the human body infrastructure.  This means that at the moment of conception, the road map to build a human body is in place and being acted on.  To simplify, we have a human being.  That blob of cells may not have all the organs, or may not be capable of feeling or thinking, it IS in the process of building itself so that it CAN have those things.  This tiny unformed mass of cells is fully dependent on the mother to be NURTURED AND PROTECTED.  That is what the female organs are for.  Perhaps it is an undue burden placed on the mother, I can't say, but it is the way we are created, we as humans are split into two sexes, male and female, with combined effort we can create other humans.  I see the female role as an honor and her duty.  I also believe as co-creator, the male should share in that duty but if that is not possible for some reason (death, forced separation, etc.), it must fall upon the woman (and perhaps her family or friends) to take up that mantle, to care for herself and her child.

This life form is completely innocent, hasn't had a bad thought, hasn't done a single bad thing. Choosing to terminate such an innocent and dependent life is murder.  People (our court system for example) have sought to place a definition on when a mass of cells becomes human but their definition is completely arbitrary and very flawed.  Their ideas are based on capacity or size, not on the obvious fact that at ANY time during its development, the embryo is human.

Some people will say "well it isn't VIABLE outside the mother" but very often people outside of the mother become ill or grow old and they too cannot care for themselves, or are not viable without assistance.  Using that reasoning, we should be able to terminate any life that falls into that category, at any time.

Some people will say "well the embryo is not capable of critical thinking, or cannot feel or..." again, to be honest, that is a bogus argument.  What about autistic children, or children who suffer from a rare disease where they cannot physically feel even after they are born?  For that matter, the human brain is not even fully grown until the person is in their mid-twenties (it may be higher now) and don't have the same self-awareness or capacity to understand the world around them like someone who is 40 or older.  So should we be allowed to kill them as well?  Toddlers... if anyone has watched their babies grow up, know that toddlers are pretty self-absorbed and lack social skills, which they again depend on their parents and other people around them to learn and implement those skills.

Most conservatives embrace these thoughts but instead of being lauded as cherishing human life, they are insulted and painted as sexist, or of supporting rape culture or some other horrid thing.  Part of that "basket of deplorables."

Monday, December 14, 2015

StarStable

Last January my wife and daughter convinced me to try a game that I would never have considered on my own: StarStable Online.

My usual genre consists of games like Fallout, Arkham, Elder Scrolls, etc. All First Person Shooter or Hack and Slash games. StarStable is different in two ways: first, it is a[n] MMORPG and two it contains very little violence and when you are hurt it is masked by a sort of "whew that was close but you managed to survive (or get away)" message. Apart from that I soon learned this is a very fun game and satisfies a number of basic gaming needs.

When my daughter told me about this "awesome horse game" I laughed. But my wife began playing it and she is not really into games unless they are puzzle games (like Myst or Riven). Soon after not only were my daughter and wife playing but also my wife's parents, her sister, and the cousins! At that point I had to try it to see what the hullabaloo was about.

Turns out this horse game made for younger women is actually a lot of fun for anyone and everyone. 

StarStable Online is based on previous single player games. In this game you travel to a region where horses are the primary mode of transportation. You start at a stable and are asked to care for a horse. You do such a good job with that horse you are then asked to keep it and that is where all the adventure begins.

This is a pretty wide open world once you become a paying customer. There are level restrictions to several regions but that gives you something to work toward. You can communicate with anyone in game through mail or through chat. Chat is divided into multiple tabs with varying restrictions such as special groups, or the club you belong to as well as local and global chat. The game is VERY social and the players often don't bother following the plotline or quests and go off and have role playing parties and such.

But as open as it is, there IS a main plot or quest, and there are TONS of side quests and chores to do as well. Quests are segmented and can be done at your leisure. Completed quests grant you gold and level your character. Chores and races build your reputation with the various factions and regions and provide gold. Then there are the races. Races are divided into regular races with a competition board, and championships. Championships take place in specific regions at specific days and times. Regular races are available once per day for points (leveling your horse) and all day for the competition board itself.

It is a good idea to do your chores and races to build popularity (which leads to more quests) and helps your horse perform better (faster, more agile, better jumping, etc). At times the chores can become very tedious doing the same things day in day out but they are also quick to do. Some of the chores include cleaning stables, delivering goods, finding objects, mapping areas, checking on workers, fishing, etc. The more you participate the more quickly you advance in general.

There is a mystical side to the game. Your character, it turns out, is very special and has been gifted with powers that will be needed to keep the world safe from the nefarious plans of the bad guys. I won't say more about that, but I will say for a game for young women, there ARE some scary or stressful moments when you are trying to foil the plans of the interdimensional spooks or the ruffians.
The other aspect of the game that is just FUN are the horses themselves. There are many different types of horses in game and you won't have access to all of them at the beginning, but they come over time as you level up and gain access to where they are sold. Be warned, you can become addicted to buying the various horse types and colors! Another fun part is buying your own clothing and the horses tack. There are many options and at first you might try to stick to items that give you the best performance boosts, but sometimes you just bow down to what looks best. Other fun things to do include visiting the Disco every Friday and Saturday night and just riding around with your friends or your club. Some clubs even hold inter-club competitions.

Finally, it needs to be mentioned that StarStable provides NEW content EVERY WEDNESDAY! That is pretty amazing. They also provide MAJOR updates (like new horses) several times per year and REGION updates frequently as well! For example they just added a new region that is HUGE and takes a lot of time to investigate, and as time goes on they will add many new quests in this region. The development of this game is very active and the community is vibrant.

Over all I would recommend this game to anyone, but be aware there are a LOT of children on this game (and the chat filter lets you know that as it filters many words that could be abused - often to the frustration of people trying to communicate) so please be on your best behavior. But even so, there are a lot of adults on the game as well. The adults are usually found to be on late late at night or during the day when school is in session.

Check it out! If you like it, your best bet (financially speaking) is to purchase a lifetime membership. Also, while you get a star coin allowance as a life member, you WILL want to purchase more star coins to purchases horses and special tack... just a warning that it will dent your wallet!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Long time no post, and Changes

Well, wow.  So back in April I took a new Job with American Express.  It is MUCH closer to home, no more painful commute!  Because it is closer I traded my sonic for a used Dodge Ram 2500 HD,

I will write more about that and about the Ram, which is a decent truck, soon.

Sorry for the short update... gotta go now!  Oh!  And StarStable added a new section called Epona.   Level 18 here I come!