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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 12/21/08 - 12/28/08

Friday, December 26, 2008

21 Degrees in 2 Hours...

...More Nebraska weather fun. A cold front came through and plummeted our temperature from 53F at 9pm to 32F at 11pm.

It got up to 60F today! No jackets! We can see our lawn again! Perhaps today should have been the day to take down the Christmas lights, while we could have stood on the roof without ice on it. Who knows when it'll be warm enough again...

...snow forecast tomorrow and tomorrow night again...highs in the 20s....

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Holiday Aftermath...Jam On It!

Happy Holidays friends!

We had a fun day yesterday...I have to admit I went a bit overboard with the holiday shopping for everyone. I guess I was counting on the extra money I'd earned from my 3 weeks in Florida. I haven't gotten paid for it yet, but I hope I get the paycheck soon so my credit card can breathe a sigh of relief!

I think our Wii system had the best holiday of all, we got 4 games for it but these are the two we've opened and played with so far:

1.) Wii Music. This is a great time, and it's quite wonderful that our boys are enjoying something on the Wii instead of Lego Star Wars. I'd argue it's the equivalent of getting Jacob and Timmy their own drum set, guitar, piano and's hard for them not to mess up here. You use the Wii remotes to make the instruments play -- it's semi in tune.

You can have "jam sessions" with the instruments of your choosing (over 50, including many silly ones, such as "Cheerleader" where you are dressed in a girl's cheerleading outfit and chanting "rah rah rah"). You can play "Mii Maestro" where you conduct an orchestra with your Wii remote, and they play at the speed of your choosing. If you conduct too fast or with too much enthusiasm, your orchestra starts to sweat and make faces at you. Really funny. You can also record videos, design the album jacket and file the video in a library stored in your Wii memory.

The boys are having a blast with this, although I'm looking forward to more songs getting unlocked, I'm pretty sick of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".

2.) Guitar Hero World Tour. This was a surprise for Dave...I saw the set (guitar controller + game) on sale the day after Thanksgiving for $99 and I was all set to pick one up for Christmas! But after 3-4 stores with my neighbor on Black Friday, the Wii version was sold out everywhere! Plenty of X-Box and Playstation sets, but none for Wii.

This turned into a mission for me. I decided if I can't find the set, I'd buy the two parts a la carte: I picked up the game at Toys R Us, and then ordered a cool guitar controller from Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon e-mailed me 6 days after I placed the order to say they were out of stock.


This happened to me in November with a backpack I was trying to buy for my deployment. I'd place the order, then 24-48 hours later, I'd be notified that the item was out of stock.

I was mad. Both with the backpack in November and with the guitar controller a couple weeks ago.

Anyway, I found the guitar in question at Best Buy in Papillion, NE, and decided that I could pick one up there the weekend before Christmas if need be. In the meantime, I kept the order with Amazon open in case the guitar controller came into stock.

The good news was that on December 18th, the guitar controller shipped, and it arrived on the 23rd, just in the nick of time! It's not the standard guitar that you get with a game, but a "Les Paul"-designed Gibson guitar...looks a bit more realistic. It didn't cost any differently, so I thought it would be cool.

Dave was very pleasantly surprised, and wasted no time getting it all set up so he can start rocking on with his favorite bands.
"World Tour" caught my attention because it features a much wider variety of songs, from many genres of music...most of which Dave and I like. From Steely Dan to Paul McCartney and Wings to Sting to Metallica to R.E.M. to Linkin Park to Smashing Pumpkins to Tool to Jimi Hendrix...and more songs are unlocking for us as we successfully play each gig.
I'm not going into the mechanics of how the guitar controller works here, but let's just say that it's not the same as a real guitar, so real guitar players (such as my parents) might find this a strange experience. You can edit the settings so you don't have to use all 5 fret buttons, too, since there's no way I can handle that yet. For the most part, we're using 3 or 4 of the buttons right now.
Here's Dave on Christmas morning sporting his new NY Islanders jersey, rocking on to a tutorial're practicing the timing of the strumming here, no fret buttons in use. We're now easily using 4 out of the 5 frets and having a great time working through the song list!

Dave seems to think I'm taking more naturally to this because I played violin as a kid. I'm not having quite as much trouble with the more complex patterns of buttons...but I'm far from good at this. I was boo-ed off the stage trying to play an Oasis song, of all things!

I'm so hooked -- and it's a gift for Dave! Dave's pretty hooked, too. It's probably a good thing that I'm leaving in a couple weeks because I can see myself playing this all day long while Dave's at work!

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