Monday, January 30, 2017

Why I pre-ordered a Nintendo Switch

While the short version is "I have to play the newest Zelda game!" I'll try to give a list of justifications for a new toy that some people think is overpriced or irrelevant.

First, some quick video game system background is probably in order. I have a PS4 and have been thinking about adding a PS VR to it. But the $500 price tag is hard for me to justify for something that doesn't seem to have much more than a few cool tech demos. I have an original 3DS that I (very) occasionally play Mario Kart with friends. I've been somewhat interested in a few of the Wii U games that came out over the years, but never enough to justify the cost of that failing system.

So a Switch gives me basically everything I would want out of a Wii U (Mario, Zelda, play without taking up a TV) AND act as a 3DS replacement for a price that's less than PS VR. I worry a little bit about eventual 3rd party support, but I'm okay with it being a Nintendo first party machine. Anything beyond that would just be gravy. I don't care much about streaming services on Switch, I probably have 7 other devices that I can watch Netflix or Amazon Video on. Oh, and I'd be more likely to hand my still-a-bit-too-young-for-video-games kid a Nintendo controller than strap on a VR headset to her. That's a pretty weak rationalization I know, but whatever...Zelda!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I donated bone marrow

I didn't actually tell a ton of people, but yeah, a few weeks back I donated bone marrow since I was a good match with a stranger with a life threatening blood disease like leukemia. Not the 'stick a huge needle in your bones and extract marrow' type, more like the 'take shots for a few days and give blood' type. There was a bit more to it than that, but you get the idea.

Okay, let's back up to the beginning. Several years ago shortly after I got married, my wife's friend's dad went through some battles with leukemia. He needed a transplant or two and she convinced my wife and I that we should sign up for a marrow registry (Be the Match) to help out people like him. We swabbed our cheeks and sent it off in the mail. It was quick, it was free, and we didn't really think much of it after that. Many years later, I got a call that said I was a good match with a ~70 year old guy I didn't know with a similar disease. I had lots of questions of course, but I soon decided to donate. I figured I'm relatively young and healthy, why not help somebody? What really sealed the deal was the description of the process. It's called apheresis and really similar to giving blood plasma. They hook you up to an IV and a machine that separates your blood, then feeds it back to you, no surgery or anesthesia necessary. Wait, but I thought you gave bone marrow, you say? Well...sort of. I technically gave blood stem cells, which is what the shots from the days before told my body to start producing more of. They took out all the extra blood stem cells with apheresis and I was back to normal pretty much by the end of the day.

Let's see, other questions that people ask about? I did have to travel for the donation. I got on a plane on a Sunday night, did the donation on Monday morning, and flew back Tuesday morning. I was pretty exhausted that Monday afternoon, but I was actually feeling pretty good by that night. The shots for 5 days leading up to it were actually a bit more of a pain than the recovery. Since I had an excess of blood stem cells, I had some pain and stiffness in my lower back, and an occasional mild headache. During the actual apheresis they set me up to watch a few movies and it was a bit uncomfortable at times, but never really painful.

I'm looking forward to hearing how it went for the recipient. Usually that's around a month after the donation. Different organizations have different policies on contact between donors and recipients, but Be the Match doesn't allow contact until a year after, I believe. All I know about him is age, gender, and his disease. All he knows about me is age and gender. I'm sure they have good reasons for their rules, but it was almost too disconnected for me. I had to remind myself a few times that I was doing this for some guy out there that was relying on me. He had to go through severe chemotherapy right before my donation to completely kill off his immune system so that he'd be able to accept my stem cells. He actually gets my immune system and blood type after this. If I had backed out at that point he'd almost surely have died. Even with the donation the odds are around 50% survival, but that's literally his best option.

I decided that my motivation for doing this had a lot to do with my wife, 2 year old daughter, and my dad. I really like spending time with those girls and I'd want someone else to get as much time as possible with the people they love. Plus I want her to grow up in a world where people do stuff like this for other people. My dad died from cancer more than 10 years ago. I would have loved to have the ability for some kind of transplant to cure him but that wasn't an option in his case.

You might think about signing up. If you're under 40, the entry and cheek swab kit from Be the Match is free. They're slightly more likely to call if you're younger and male, just because men have more marrow and have more to donate. Minorities and people of mixed race are in even more demand, since the percentages of donors in the database mirrors the population as a whole.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dead Space 3

It's not good. I looooooved the first two. This one sucks. Too much action and the dudes are bullet sponges, even on Easy. I sent it back after two hours. That is all.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Catch Up

I've played a few games lately but don't feel like making a post for each one. I picked up Dishonored and Call of Duty Black Ops. I really haven't been liking the stealth in Dishonored. It feels like I can't really tell if I'm going to be seen or not. And of course as soon as they see you, you're pretty much dead.
Black Ops is fun, but man, you know the part of the action movie where stuff is blowing up all around you, and there's dudes shooting in every direction for a minute or two? That's the WHOLE GAME of Black Ops. It got to where I learned not to play it before I go to sleep since it kind of put me on edge.
I also played through almost all of Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS. It was okay, I guess. The voice acting was terrible and the story was kind of a throwaway, but it was occasionally pretty, and it was something to do on the portable system.
Okay, just this weekend I plowed through all of The Last of Us. Holy crap that game is good. The story was excellent, and the gameplay was a lot of fun. It had decent stealth and a great variety of types of play and locations. So when I gush about the story and voice acting, don't think I'm glossing over the other stuff. It's the kind of game that made me stay up late to finish more of it, think about it while I went to sleep, then start playing again first thing when I woke up. So, so good. They made some really unexpected choices with the direction of the story at some points. Which just made me like it even more. Okay, I'll stop typing so you can just go play this one.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

I was finally able to snag a copy of Luigi's Mansion from GameFly. The timing worked out pretty well too, since I headed out on a long weekend trip shortly after I got it. I did a lot of ghost-sucking on the three hour flight, if you know what I mean.

I actually took the GameFly return envelope thing with me thinking I'd finish it up on the trip and drop it in a mailbox and have a new game waiting for me when I got home. That didn't quite work out. This time it had nothing to do with GF shipping and everything to do with the last levels being really tough and complicated. Also, it was a much longer game than I was expecting. On the last night in our hotel room, I was thinking "sweet, this is the last level." But no, there was a whole 'nother section to go. Don't you just hate it when games give you your money's worth?

The game itself was charming, occasionally clever, and rarely frustrating. I sort of wanted to record the sound of Luigi's (old school phat) Nintendo DS "ringing" when the professor called him and make it my ringtone. Also hearing him say "yellllo?" every time always made me chuckle.                                                      

I had played very little of the original Gamecube version, so I can't say how much it compares to that. But I managed to enjoy myself pretty much all the way through the 14 hours or so it took me to get through the story mode. There's also a multiplayer mode that works either in person (with download play) or over wifi. I put in a little bit of time through that, but I mainly focused on the story.

I can't say it was especially challenging since I went through 90% of the game without even knowing how to dodge or jump while sucking up ghosts (the "combat" portion of the game). But the difficulty ramps up nicely towards the end for some of the boss fights and the sheer number of ghosts that get thrown at you for one brutal (timed) level.

In summary, if you have a 3DS you probably ought to get this one. As for me I'm on to the next one, Tomb Raider on the 360 and I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

(Editors note: I typed this one on my Nexus 4 with a Bluetooth keyboard, because, hey, why not?)