Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Marvel's Spider-Man Disappearing Boxes

While playing a sneak mission as Miles Morales, your job is to escape the area without the Rhino seeing you. Rhino charges through a few areas and disturbs a number of boxes here and there. Those boxes eventually disappear. You can see it happen at 18 seconds in, 26 seconds, and 58 seconds. I normally would not care about such a little detail, but avoiding knocking over boxes is a pretty large part of these sneak missions. It sort of knocks the immersion off.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Debt Consolidation Rep Calls Hank Hill

A rep from a debt consolidation company called looking for Hank Hill. I put on my best Hank Hill (from the TV show King of the Hill) impression and went along with the scam. The rep asked how I was doing and I lauded the recent accomplishments of the Trump administration which got an uncomfortable laugh out of the rep. The rep then asked me about unsecured debt, which I compared to a dog on the loose.

Randomly, I asked the rep if he was the boy who had been "whackin' in my toolshed" which was a callback to Mr. Anderson from Beavis and Butthead which is the same voice as Hank Hill. I then proceeded to confuse the word "debt" with "dog" and talked a bit about my dog, Ladybird. The rep eventually had enough and decided to hang up

Friday, October 12, 2018

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4: Taking Out A Sable Base With Stealth

I'm still getting quite a kick out of playing Marvel's Spider-Man on the PS4. I'm far enough into the game where Silver Sable's agents have taken over various parts of the city. As part of the game's progression, the Sable Bases must be taken out in every section of the city. I uploaded a video of me taking out the first wave of Sable agents at a Sable Base using stealth techniques like the web take down, the perch takedown and the generic stealth takedown.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Dick Pond Athletics

I was up in the north suburbs earlier this week for a 5K and decided afterward that I was in dire need of some proper running shoes. The cheap shoes I had been wearing just weren't cutting it, and were probably damaging my already messed up knees. I decided to stop at Dick Pond Athletics in St. Charles, IL.

What an unfortunate name for a store, right? Despite my giggling at the name and making several snarky comments under my breath to my companion, I actually had a very good experience at the Dick Pond. The Dick associate measured my feet, had me walk on a treadmill to measure my gait and then presented me with a few pairs of shoes for me to try out. I exited the Dick Pond satisfied with my purchase and ready to run in my next 5K with proper equipment.

Do I Have To Write Another Dick Pond Joke? Make Up Your Own! 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Student Loan Forgiveness Scammer Calls Me

When I went to college, I didn't take out any student loans. So, I fail to understand how some company can call me and offer to help me get them paid down. Maybe they're just cold calling and hoping to get someone who has student loans in arrears.

Anyway, I got this telemarketer on the line and was surprised that she was actually an American. After going through the motions of determining my eligibility for the program, I told her that I got kicked out of college for indecent exposure. She ended the call abruptly after that.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Spider-Man PS4: Taking Down A Prisoner Camp

I continue to be amazed at how fun Spider-Man for the PS4 is. As you progress in the game, more opportunities for base fights present themselves. About two-thirds of the way through, there's a prison break at Riker's Island and hundreds of prisoners take to the streets of New York, setting up bases throughout the city. It's up to Spider-Man to take them down.

In this particular prisoner base fight,  I spent about 6 minutes taking the goons down via various stealthy means, including perch takedowns sneak takedowns, web strikes,  and trip mines. Once I was discovered, I went about taking down the bad guys directly and ended up reaching the base goal of getting 5 stealth takedowns and 10 air yanks. One of the craziest things that happened during the fight occurred at about 7:35 in the video. A rocket is launched, I dodged it, and it hit one of the bad guys, who then shakes it off and continues to fight. Although, I do acknowledge that other missiles that struck other bad guys seemed to have effectively taken them out.

Here's a video of my prisoner camp fight:


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

In celebration of Talk Like A Pirate Day, Jason (Bosun Gee) and I (The Dread Pirate Nerdbeard) raised the mast on the Steadfast and, faster than a bareback seahorse sailing an uncharted sea course, we set off on our mission as pirates with zero ambition. Our destination: The local Long John Silver's where they offered free fish and fries for anyone who dressed like a pirate and a free deep fried Twinkie for anyone who talks like a pirate. We didn't have any elaborate costumes by any means. Jason wore an eyepatch and I wore a party favor pirate mask.

Upon arrival, I approached the cashier and said "Arrr matey. I be wantin' a chicken plank and a medium drink along wit whatever freebies ye be given me". The guy laughed so hard that he said he was going to give me two deep fried twinkles instead of one. Truth be told, I could barely finish the one. But, the fish and fries were as good as I expected.

The Fabled Treasure of Long John Silver


Monday, September 17, 2018

Extra Strength Excedren Limited Edition

This is an interesting marketing idea. Excedrin has issued a number of "limited edition" extra strength geltab packages with the tag line "We See Your Pain". I don't think that these are actually hitting store shelves. I assume they're just promotional items, as I got one in the mail yesterday as a freebie after filling out an online form a few weeks back. I had chosen "Adulting", but "Bad Date" and "Commuter" were also available. If I were in charge, I would have also made "Too Much Screen Time", "Bills Piling Up", "Hungover Again" and "Kid Forgot Her Homework".


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How High Is My Electricity Bill?

The energy bill scammer who called Clovis was pretty aggressive. He wasn't in the mood for any of Clovis' shenanigans. Just listen to how angry he sounds when he asks for Clovis' zip code. And when Clovis goes on to describe how hot it has been this summer, the scammer just hung up.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Spider-Man PS4 Game

I've been playing Marvel's Spider-Man for the PS4. This new endeavor by Insomniac Games seeks to make you feel what it's like to actually be Spider-Man. I'm not the kind of guy who buys many video games to begin with, and I'm certainly not one to pre-order a game, but I pre-ordered Marvel's Spider-Man because I was so excited about the prospect of having a fully immersive Spider-Man video game.

A Selfie With My Spider-Bro
And it truly is an Amazing game. Spectacular, even. The narrative, while taking some very interesting character diversions from the Spider-Man mythos (Otto Octavius being a mentor to Peter, Mary Jane working for the Daily Bugle, etc etc) is incredibly engaging. I would watch the cutscenes of this game as if they were their own Spider-Man movie. Despite a small initial learning curve, swinging around as Spider-Man is incredibly fun, and I found myself mastering the technique after just a few hours of play. I'm still trying to get the hang of combat and I seem to get creamed whenever I drop down in the middle of of a gang of thugs. Button mashing is NOT your friend in this game. Being methodical about combat takes time, but pays off, especially if you want to go the stealth route. I've embedded a video below of me playing in the Spider-Man Noir suit and taking out a gang of Fisk's men silently. I love Spidey's quips and the various snippets of conversation Fisk's goons are making.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Cutting The Cord With Philo TV

I don't have much use for cable these days. In fact, I spent almost the entire Summer burning through 8 seasons of Shameless on Netflix and catching up on various other shows on Hulu. There are really only a few shows on cable that constitute "appointment" viewing for me, those being "Better Call Saul", "Rick and Morty" and "Venture Brothers". Those shows are important enough to me that I've hesitated to cut the cord completely. Until now.

Enter Philo TV. Philo is a streaming service that offers 40 channels for $16 per month or an extended package of 49 channels for $20 per month. Here's the channel rundown:

Philo $16/month package 

  • A&E
  • AMC
  • Animal Planet
  • AXS TV
  • BBC America
  • BBC World News
  • BET
  • Cheddar
  • Cheddar Big News
  • CMT
  • Comedy Central
  • Discovery Channel
  • DIY
  • Food Network
  • FYI
  • GSN
  • HGTV
  • History
  • IFC
  • Investigation Discovery (ID)
  • Lifetime
  • Lifetime Movies
  • MTV
  • MTV2
  • Nickelodeon
  • Nick Jr.
  • OWN
  • Paramount Network
  • PeopleTV
  • Science
  • Sundance Channel
  • Tastemade
  • TeenNick
  • TLC
  • Travel Channel
  • TV Land
  • Velocity
  • VH1
  • Viceland
  • We TV

Philo $20/month package (Includes All Channels In The $16 Package)

  • American Heroes Channel
  • BET Her
  • Cooking Channel
  • Destination America
  • Discovery Family
  • Discovery Life
  • Logo
  • MTV Live
  • Nicktoons
You can watch any of the channel streams on Philo live, or you can watch the individual shows on demand. You can also save any show to your own personal DVR space and it will be available for 30 days. 

But how do you watch Philo? Well, the channel is available for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, IOS, Android and various internet browsers. My own personal solution is to watch Philo via the Chrome browser on my Chromebook and run the HDMI stream through it to my TV. The result actually looks pretty good: 


I think, overall, Philo is a pretty good deal for $16/per month. Your mileage may vary depending on what you're into watching. But, for a guy who likes certain channels and who isn't into watching sports on TV, it's a no brainer buy. The channel line-up doesn't include AdultSwim/Cartoon Network but I can catch those shows via the channel's streaming events. And I'm hoping that they'll eventually roll out support for the PS4. 



Wednesday, August 22, 2018

There's Nothing Enchanting About Disenchantment

I'm a huge fan of early Simpsons episodes. I'm also a die-hard Futurama fan and have been clamoring for more ever since its most recent cancellation. So, it was with much anticipation that I logged on to Netflix to binge watch Matt Groening's latest creation, Disenchantment. It's the story of Tiabeanie Mariabeanie De La Rochambeaux Drunkowitz (better known as "Baen"), the rebellious, irresponsible, alcoholic Princess of Dreamland, her companion Elfo and her "personal demon", Luci.

What can I say about this show? It's trite, predictable, and ultimately, underwhelming. But, that's how I felt about Futurama when it first started. There may be some potential in Disenchantment. Aside from the lazy humor, I think that Disenchantment, which purports to be about a rebellious princess going on quirky adventures, is really about an entitled drunk stumbling from contrived situation to contrived situation. It's just not funny. And it's hard to connect with a show when the main character is so unlikeable and unrelatable.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Kansas City Royals at White Sox 8/18/2018

I was up in row 1 of section 537 which offered a great view of home plate at Comiskey Park (Guaranteed Rate Field can KMA) on Saturday to check out the White Sox as they took on the Kansas City Royals. The White Sox suffered a pretty stunning 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Royals. It started out looking like the White Sox would have a great game, especially after Covey picked off Merrifield and Delmonico hit a solo homer to right field. Alas, it was not to be, as the Royals played a consistently better game and ran up 3 runs.

It was Tim Anderson bobble head night at Comiskey Park, and, I'm sorry to say, Anderson played like an actual bobblehead.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Linkedin Recruiter Calls Me

A head hunter ran through my Linkedin page and tried to get me to apply for a VMWare contract job. Rather than deal this shyster by telling him to Eff off, I sent him Clovis' number, telling him that he was a great fit for the position. When the recruiter called Clovis and said that Thomas Mac had passed along his contact info, Clovis became enraged, wondering if the recruiter and I were friends and wanting to know where I was at because I owed him money after wrecking his car at a Taco Bell.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Blue Apron Is In The Red

Over the last several weeks, I've been a pretty big fan of Blue Apron, the meal kit delivery company that has been the source behind my "Expectation VS Reality" posts. Despite my rousing endorsements, Blue Apron's stock has been in free fall recently. As of this writing, the stock is trading for around $2.20 per share, which is a huge drop from its 52 week high of $6.25 and very near is 52 week low of $1.72. So, what's happening? The meal kit market, which is fad based to begin with, has become heavily competitive. Hello Fresh recently surpassed Blue Apron as the market's biggest meal kit delivery company. Also, grocery stores like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods are looking into providing their own meal kits at a fraction of the price. The other issue is customer retention

So, what can Blue Apron do to turn this situation around? I have a few ideas:


  • Offer some cheaper kits: Most Blue Apron kits are priced at around $11 per serving with a minimum of 2 servings per kit. Cheaper alternatives are hitting the market and Blue Apron needs to pay attention. Blue Apron could easily provided cheaper, less complicated kits for around $6 per serving in addition to their usual kits. 
  • Enter Into Strategic Alliances: Blue Apron has already teamed with Costco in a pilot program to provided Blue Apron meal kits at select Costco stores. Blue Apron needs to expand on this partnership and possibly enter into similar partnerships with other grocery stores.
  • Focus on Customer Satisfaction: Customer retention is a huge issue. Blue Apron spends quite a bit of marketing in order to gain customers, but only 15% of those customers end up sticking around. My own experience is that on-time delivery is unreliable and variety is somewhat lacking. But, whatever the reason why Blue Apron is bleeding customers, they need to address it ASAP. 
  • Lose The Weekly Subscription Requirement: Blue Apron has recently allowed its customers to refrain from committing to a weekly subscription and just order kits on an as needed basis. Personally, this is what made me return to Blue Apron. In order to encourage subscriptions, perhaps Blue Apron could offer some sort of monthly incentive if a customer successfully took 4 weeks of delivery.