That Christmas spirit

Christmas is upon us again. In less than a week, people will be flooding stores, shopping for the right gift for the year. And like the procrastinator that I am, I’ll be out there among the hapless shoppers.

A walk through the mall tonight reminded me that this dreaded season is upon us, and it’s coming sooner than I’d prefer. I call it dreaded because it seems that everyone on the planet is out shopping. That means long lines at the checkout, crowded parking lots, and just downright rudeness all around.

I grew up with this notion that the Christmas spirit is some “thing” that we should all feel, and that it’s a time of goodwill towards others. But after repeatedly going through the crap of the holiday shopping season, it’s become apparent to me that Christmas spirit is a load that I simply will not buy.

I don’t believe in a Christmas spirit anymore than I believe in a Sweetest Day. Instead, I believe that we should be friendly to others year-round, and we shouldn’t need a holiday to remind us of that. Personally, I live by this idea. I always try to help when I can and say hello whenever I see someone I know (and even when I don’t know them).

So if you do believe in Christmas spirit and try to be nice to everyone, don’t stop after the holidays. You may find that being nice to others year-round actually makes you feel better about yourself and the world around you.

Halo 2: Reclaiming your scorpion

I was driving around in the scorpion tank outside of the temple ruins and blowing away ghosts. I managed to destroy a variety of them, but one of the red elites managed to survive. He jumped on top of my tank, so I freaked and hit “x” to get out and beat him up. The next thing I knew, the elite was driving my tank and chasing me with it. I first ran to evade him and to kill some of the jackals. Then I found him, jumped on board, and found myself on the driver-side ledge. I was attacked by more jackals, and the scorpion gun was moving back and forth to knock me off. I ducked and shot the jackals, then I turned to face the driver hatch and hit “x” to open the hatch (when prompted to). I then repeatedly hit “b” to melee attack the elite inside. I knew I had him when I saw one of his arms fly out of the tank (and you wonder why it’s rated “M” for mature?). The scorpion was mine again!

Four years in Madison

It just dawned on me that I’ve lived in Madison for four years as of today. I haven’t really reflected much about it recently. I did write a soapbox article on living here after one year, but I haven’t written about living here since, other than in blogs. But in the past couple of years, I’ve changed jobs, tried things I hadn’t tried in years (like softball), took up a new hobby (Xbox), dedicated myself to playing more guitar, and overall just continued to grow up (if at all). In three days, I celebrate four years in state service. It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the last year, but so far things are going very well.

UW Band taunts Minnesota Vikings

While I was watching yesterday’s Packers-Vikings game, the network showed the University of Wisconsin (UW) Marching Band taunting the Vikings, especially Randy Moss. The tuba players covered the sound holes with letters that when spelled out read “Where you at Moss?” Moss seemed to be amused. They also showed one of the trombone players bumping into Chris Hovan during the National Anthem, and Hovan waved his helmet at the musician (it was unclear if contact was made).

I had just watched one of the NFL broadcasters that morning talking about taunting on the field, and how he and the two players he interviewed all agreed that it did not belong out there during a game. They also agreed that personal attacks are uncalled for and do not belong in the NFL. I don’t think it was right for the UW Marching Band to taunt the Vikings before or during the game. The band showed that our UW representatives are incapable of being good sports. Likewise, even if it is professional sports and people don’t like them for their team affiliation, it demonstrates that we are unable to set good examples of being able to play a good game and make it enjoyable for the fans. And that brings up my third point in that we show kids that personal attacks are fine. It’s the type of behavior that we’ve been fighting against in this country for over a century, but we’re subconsciously bringing it back because we’ve become this winner-take-all society. Yes, it sucks to lose, and we want our teams to win. But when does the name calling and disruptive behavior get so far out of hand that it ends up in violence? It’s just another way that our ethical values have been sidestepped by our own selfish desires to be the best.

And the UW Marching Band shouldn’t be so happy… the football Badgers are nearly out of the race to go to the Rose Bowl after falling from fifth to thirteenth in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings today, thanks to their massive loss to Michigan State University on Saturday (I have to admit that I’m not a huge Badgers fan). – Minnesota Vikings notebook

ScreenSavers revamping

It was only two months ago that The ScreenSavers was revamped to meet the G4 demographic after it bought out TechTV. G4 is at it again with yet another revamping. People will be let go, including Yoshi (modding expert), Dan (technical advisor and LAN party technician), and Alex (co-host). Additionally, G4 decided to cancel Unscrewed with Martin Sargent (I admit that I almost never watched the show, but I always like Martin). I started losing interest in the show back in September after it migrated from San Francisco to Los Angeles and started focusing more on gaming. I’m a gamer, but I don’t game all that often. I have a short list of games that I enjoy playing, and I play them very infrequently. But as you’ve probably noticed on my site, I know a little bit about technology (I’m still maintaining that it’s a love-hate relationship).

When The ScreenSavers lost Leo as a co-host, I was a little upset because he was instrumental in making the show a great success. When the studio moved and Patrick decided not to move with it, I was even more upset. I have nothing against Kevin because he’s brilliant and very good in front of the camera, but he still needs a little guidance (stop telling people to use Kazaa, dude, unless you’re asking for the feds to knock on your door). Back then, the show was geared more towards a wide range of technology and had a very responsible crew on it. Since G4 bought it out and revamped it in September, I’ve found other things to do with my time. Perhaps that’s a good thing. But when I do watch the show, it just isn’t as fun as it was over a year ago.

I’ve always admired the work that Leo and Patrick did with The ScreenSavers, and I’ve admired everyone on the show because they all contributed to a balanced and informative program (I still miss Megan and Morgan). But with yet another revamping, I may give it one more chance, but I’ll probably quit watching it (I’m already down to two days a week, half of the time I don’t really watch it). If the producers were smart, they’d try to get a more general audience and try to air it on a national network or in some form of syndication.

In the meantime, I’m going to throw my support to Leo and his work on Call For Help on G4-TechTV Canada.

Veteran’s Day

Today many people are asked to remember those that served in our armed forces. In recent months, many American soldiers have died in combat overseas. Although I have no military experience, I can imagine the courage of those to overcome their fears to continue fighting for the liberty of others. I’ve stated that I don’t agree with the actions in Iraq, but I still have great respect for the men and women who are serving in the United States military for the greater good of the world.

My brother-in-law, Vince, served in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. Today’s blog is dedicated to him and to those that have served or continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

US Census Bureau, veterans