Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How To Make Some Quick Money In Fallout New Vegas

Make Some Caps With SASS!
Jason and I have both been playing Fallout New Vegas pretty heavily since the Old World Blues DLC came out earlier this month. The DLC features a new area called The Sink, located atop the dome at Big Mountain. It has become the de-facto headquarters for both of us because of all the helpful fixtures available there. One of the best appliances is the Sink Auto-Doc which will heal all of your hit points and remove all rads and addictions for free as well as give you a haircut, provide a facial reconstruction and provide useful implants at varying prices. The implants, while incredibly useful, are very expensive, ranging from 8,000 to 20,000 caps depending on the implant.  That's pretty pricey and it's tough to make so much money in Fallout New Vegas without being incredibly good at gambling. Jason, however, hit upon a great idea to make money in Fallout New Vegas fast.

Go to the Sunset Sarsaparilla factory in the Mojave Wasteland and collect every single Empty Sunset Sarsaparilla Bottle you can find there. There should be around 820 there. Don't worry about overloading your carrying capacity because you won't have to fast travel anywhere. Once you've collected all of the empty bottles, walk outside and use your Big Mountain Transportalponder to travel to The Sink. Once you're there, use the sink to fill up the bottles with purified water. You can then sell those to The Sink Central Intelligence Unit for 20 per bottle, which works out to 16,400 caps.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Struggle

I caught a wasp recently with one of those store bought glue traps. The wasp trap hangs there emitting an enticing odor that attracts the wasp in and traps them with a sticky substance. I hung the trap two weeks ago and caught this little bugger within 24 hours. Since then, no other wasps have tried to build a nest anywhere near the trap.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Get Your Bill Straight With Straight Talk

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Let me be straight with you about cell phone plans. Most people using the mainstream cell carries are  paying way too much for their current plans. The majority of people only use half of what they pay for. What's worse is that they are stuck with a contract that is at least two years long, so there's nothing that can be done. It's such a shame because Straight Talk has everything you need in a cell phone plan and has no contracts, no credit checks and no surprise bills. Personally, I quite like the idea that I feel richer with Straight Talk because I cut my cell phone bill in half. You'd have to be crazy to be on a contract these days when you can get everything you need  without one, thanks to Straight Talk. I'm going to buy a set of Iron Man armor with the money I saved.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Really, Old Navy?

I guess I've got to hand it to Old Navy for their ability to appeal to the niche market of back-to-school teens who also happen to be pregnant. Nevermind the fact that teen pregnancy rates are the lowest they've been in the last 20 years. You can never be too careful, right?

I'd like to be optimistic here and assume that Old Navy stores are required to post uniform signage throughout the store, so the "Back-To-School" tag on the top of the sign is actually unrelated to the price of the maternity clothing. Or, perhaps Old Navy is seeking to appeal to parents who are pregnant and who also have children who are about to go back-to-school.  Then again, this could all be a response to some new high school trend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm A Button Pusher

When I was a young child in the late 70's, my family and I spent our vacations at a little resort in the Door County, Wisconsin, located in Wisconsin's upper-peninsula. Every morning after breakfast, my brothers and I routinely explored the resort's main lodge and often ended up parked at a 4-Player Bowling Alley arcade game while we waited for the day's activities to begin. Being only 6 years old, my older brothers would not waste a quarter on me to let me play. I was, however, allowed to push the buttons.

Somehow, I must have gotten it into my head that I was THE button pusher, for one evening, after dinner, while following my brothers out of the lodge, I spied four older gentlemen sitting down at the 4-Player Bowling Alley game. Surely, they would need me to push the button. Having been warned about "stranger danger", I was a little conflicted. Should I approach them? Wasn't it my JOB to approach them? Finally, realizing that I had a duty to fulfill, I crept up to the group, watched as they put their coins in and then I reached and pressed the button. The grumpy old men swiveled their heads around in unison and glared at me. One screamed "What the Sam Hill are you doing, you little snot?". Struck with the fear that I would be kidnapped by these men and sold off to work in a Siberian diamond mine, I ran off to catch up with my brothers. It turns out that the group of men included the owner of the resort, so my transgression was doubly bad. For the next few days, whenever I would pass one of those men in the lodge, they would inevitably say "There goes the boy who likes to push buttons".

Some thirty years later, I find that I still enjoy pushing buttons, although they tend to be of the mental sort. A friend visited me at work one morning a few days ago. Upon seeing my desk in a state of disarray, she attempted to clean it up for me. I stopped her. Wanting to test her need for cleanliness, I crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it on the ground. I asked her if she felt the need to pick it up. She turned away from it. I threw another paper wad. And another. I could almost feel her urge to pick them up gnawing at her. I threw down another crumpled ball of paper. This sort of button pushing may seem a bit immature or childish, but I find that I do it in order to test certain limits. I'm always on the lookout for someone to blow up at me like those grumpy old men at the arcade game. Whatever the reaction from people, good, bad, indifferent, it's still valid to refer to me as "the boy who likes to push buttons".

Monday, August 22, 2011

Everest College Calls Me

Everest University is a for-profit institution owned by Corinthian Colleges. A February 2011 Los Angeles Times article details numerous instances where Corinthian College graduates were lead into going deeply in debt with student loans for coursework that didn't lead to the high paying careers promised by the college's career counselors. Corinthian Colleges have a 40% student loan default rate, one of the highest in the nation. Because of crap like this, I have no qualms about giving the Everest College reps a little crap over the phone.

The Everest University rep who called me looking for Clovis McGrady was a natural mimic. Within a few moments of hearing my redneck accent, the rep slightly parroted it. Clovis isn't very big on grades. The only letters he cares about are U.S.A. and he told the Everest University as much. Each time the rep tried to transfer me over, I tried to keep her on by asking her a number of questions. At one point, the rep laughed at me and I feigned anger at her. Overall, she was a good sport.

Friday, August 19, 2011

HP Pulls The Plug On WebOS

Hewlett-Packard issued a statement yesterday saying that it will stop selling hardware based on the webOS platform it acquired from Palm. HP acquired webOS as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm a year ago and had hoped to use the software in all manner of devices from phones and tablets to PCs and printers. HP, however, was slow to bring out products based on WebOS, and allowed existing Pre and Pixi devices to lose significant market share among both consumers and developers. The much hyped launch of the HP TouchPad last month was the first in a series of steps that was to re-establish webOS as a serious player in the mobile market. The HP TouchPad received mixed reviews and sold poorly, leading to a series of price cuts.

This isn't unexpected. As much as I love webOS and was a huge fan of the Palm IIIc, Palm was going bankrupt for a reason. HP couldn't expect to use the same strategy that Palm had been using unsuccessfully and expect different results. My experience testing the HP TouchPad was that, while I loved webOS for its implementation of application cards (the most elegant approach to multi-tasking), the HP backed hardware was complete crap.

HP made a number of other critical mistakes with regards to their implementation of webOS, not the least of which was sitting on the tech for 8 months before releasing anything. Missing the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show was a huge mistake and may have led to their inability to reach a deal with Sprint to implement webOS devices. Sprint no doubt smelled blood in the water. HP then vastly over-estimated their sales targets with the HP TouchPad when they shipped 270,000 units to Best Buy. Best Buy sold only 25,000 devices and the blame doesn't lie with the fact that Russell Brand, Manny Pacquiao and Lea Michelle simply aren't good pitchers.

While a big part of me is sad that this is apparently the death-knell for webOS, part of me has to think that this whole thing is a karmic response for HP and their insanely high priced toner cartridges.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eat Here. Get Gas.

The old gas station slogan "Eat Here. Get Gas." has become ubiquitous in the genre of roadside humor. It is its own cliche. I can remember encountering one for the first time via some Bloopers and Practical Jokes television show back in the 80's. If you search the internet for the phrase, you'll find a number of hits pointing to a station in Tipton, IN.

This particular sign comes from Bud & Elsie's in New Buffalo, Michigan. Personally, I love this particular spin on the old cliche because of what it implies. Bud & Elsie's sells home-made food that gives you gas, liquor and groceries. What more does anybody need in life?

There is allegedly a sign out there in the wild with a crazier spin on this whole thing. It says "Eat Here. Get Gas and Worms" which can be found at K&T Pub & Grub in Snellman, Minnesota. I haven't been there myself, but if I ever get out there, I'll have a look. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NET10 To The Rescue

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Net10 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

There's no doubt that the price of cell phone calling packages are out of control these days. Compounding the problem is the fact that most of the well-known cell phone carriers will do everything they can to bind you to a long-term contract. Thanks to Net10 and their Unlimited deal, people are starting to See the Light.

Whether you're looking for pre-paid cell phone plans for personal or business purposes, Net10 Unlimited is a great deal. There are no contracts to worry about and there are no surprise bills or credit checks. With Net10 you get great nationwide coverage with excellent reception/connectivity. And you don't need to worry about getting bound to some second-rate cell phone because Net10 only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung. And these are quality phone with essential features like bluetooth, cameras, app bars and web access.

One of the best parts about Net10 plans is that you can switch between them from month to month. Are you going to do a lot of communicating this month? Activate the Net10 Unlimited plan with text and web for $50. Are you on a tight budget this month? Go with the Easy Minutes plan and get 200 minutes for $15. There's no penalty for switching  between plans. This is a great feature for people or businesses who have changing communication needs.

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Too Much Good Stuff

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of ampm for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

For a long time now, ampm has been the destination for quick snacks, hot food and thirst quenching beverages. Your local ampm always has a lot of good stuff to choose from. Now, they're upping the ante with their Too Much Good Stuff sweepstakes. They're giving away 15,000 bottles of Pepsi Max and 10,000 corn dogs in their Instant Win Game. All you have to do is "Like" ampm on Facebook and take a pull on the virtual slot machine. As awesome as that it, it's not even the best part. When you play the Instant Win Game you're automatically entered yourself into the Periodic Sweepstakes where you can win Apple iPod Nanos, Apple iPod Touches, Apple iPads or an Apple MacBook Air. You're also entered into the Grand Prize Drawing for a trip to Las Vegas!

Having grown up in the shadows of several ampm stores, the name ampm has become synonymous with quality and convenience. When I mosey on up to their Thirst Oasis on a hot summer day to choose one of their 24 different flavors of fountain drinks (or when I'm mixing a bunch together) I'm reminded of being a kid and how ampm has always been there for me whenever I needed a quick snack or a cold drink.

In fact, a snack from ampm would hit the spot right about now. Good thing I just won a corn dog from their Instant Win Game.



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The Fight Continues

It seems that every year I end up having to battle gangs of wasps invading the outside of my home and building nests in various places on it. This year, they have taken quite a liking to the area just above my front door. Over the last month, I have found and destroyed no less than three nests in the process of being built by these little buggers. No matter what I do, the wasps keep coming back.

While fighting this battle over the past three years, I've managed to slow the number of wasp incursions down to a trickle from the furious assault that was being waged upon my property. Before I go into details, however, it bears mentioning that if you do find a wasp nest, do not approach it. Also, if a wasp lands on you, do not swat at it. Just remain still. Agitating the wasp will make it sting you which will then attract other wasps.

How to keep wasps from coming back:

  • Keep food sources away. This means covering your garbage and making sure that when you throw out fruit, you tie it up in a plastic bag before throwing it out. Wasps are drawn to the fermenting sugar of decomposing fruit. 
  • Remove all nearby water sources. You don't have to drain your pool so long as you're using chemicals to keep it clean. However, you will want to make sure to drain any other standing pools of water and move any bird baths away from the affected area. 
  • Protect your flower boxes. There are a number of sprays you can use on your flowers to repel wasps. Personally, I just hang traps around them. 
  • Trap those suckers! When you do find and remove a wasp nest, it's a good idea to put up a wasp trap in its place. You can either buy one at your local hardware store or make one of your own by putting out a beer bottle with a small amount of beer left in it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some Final Thoughts On Gen Con 2011

Yeah, I've been milking this Gen Con thing for about two weeks now. Before closing the book on Gen Con 2011, I wanted to highlight a few things that, for one reason or another, I didn't want to dedicate an entire post to.

  • The boys and I had a lot of fun messing with the guy who was pimping his Carrom tables. Carrom is a tabletop game that seems to be a mix between shuffleboard and billiards. Essentially, you sink round wooden planks into the side pockets with your fingers. The boys and I played a number of rounds over the four days and I constantly referred to the game as "finger billiards" much to the salesperson's chagrin. After Todd beat the salesperson in a game, I made sure to announce Todd as "Five Time Finger Billiard World Champion" to the crowd gathered around the kiosk every time we walked by. And we walked by a lot. One perspective buyer said "I can tell my kids I was THERE". 

  • Gamers For Jesus had a booth in the Dealer Hall. I figured they were pushing some religious themed RPGs, which I thought could be interesting. I approached their booth, asked them what they had and was told "Jesus Loves You". When I asked if that was all they had, I was given a spiffy "Jesus Loves Gamers" lanyard. 

  • The staff at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis where we stayed was very friendly. Unsure about the open container rules, I went into Beer-Ninja mode and tried sneaking an ice-bucket full of Budweisers down to the lobby where we were playing "Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game". A hotel staffer happened to be in the elevator when I got in. She giggled at me and says "It looks like you are up to no good". I simply smiled my crooked grin and replied "Always".

  • I am going to find an excuse to visit Indianapolis again this year. When I do, I'm going to book a room at the Crowne Point Indianapolis just so I can stay in one of their railroad car rooms.

  • The service at the Buffalo Wings and Things was terrible. No eating utensils? No wet naps? Atomic wings that were decidedly less-than-atomic? Our waitresses sported a Super Girl shirt but we figured she had meant to dress as the Invisible Woman because we hardly saw her between taking our order and giving us the check. Todd was so frustrated with the service that he took it upon himself to refill our drinks at the waitress station several times. 

  • James and I accidentally walked into a Vampire LARP being held in one of the conference rooms at the hotel. When asked by the organizer what I was looking for, I replied that I had expected to find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I pretended not to hear the organizer when she explained to me what a LARP was. Instead, I asked if the local AA chapter was having a costume-themed meeting and asked why I hadn't been informed. I then insisted, over the organizer's vociferous protestations, that I would fetch my El Generico costume and return directly. The sheer look of terror on this woman's face made it all worth while.

  • My experience this year is going to be hard to top. I'm thinking that next year, I'm actually going to sign up for some gaming events and tournaments. I may even wear a costume.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of NMEDA for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

An ambulance was parked in my neighbor's driveway the other day. My neighborhood is populated mainly by elderly couples and, as such, an ambulance in the driveway is never a good omen. Turns out one of my wheelchair bound neighbors fall out of a faulty wheelchair lift attached to her van. It has to be difficult to be a caregiver to the elderly, and with so many vehicle modifications for the disabled available on the Internet and through catalogs, it's hard to know which products you can trust. This is why an NMEDA qualified dealer may be able to help the elderly or disabled get back onto the road of independence by conducting an in-person evaluation to make sure you are getting the right customization solution for your needs.

NMEDA doesn't sell anything. NMEDA is a non-profit association that promotes safe driving and equipment for the disabled such as handicap vans and vehicle modifications. NMEDA dealers must adhere to the safety standards put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NMEDA has quality assurance program dealers. The NMEDA Quality Assurance Program (QAP) is the only nationally recognized accreditation program for the Adaptive Mobility Equipment Industry. NMEDA believes that, in order to provide consistently excellent customer service, companies must have a systematic and documented approach to quality. Because of this, you can be sure that NMEDA endorsed products are of the highest quality.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spending Time At The Ram

When Gen Con takes over Indianapolis for the best four days in gaming, the local restaurants and businesses all take steps to cater to the convention goers. It's not uncommon for drink and meal specials to be offered to people wearing Gen Con badges and one will often see small discounts being offered on merchandise as well. Indeed, as we walked around the area outside of the convention center we were often greeted by people representing businesses that were eager to share their love for the denizens of Gen Con. This sort of attention is very much appreciated. It's nice to see businesses getting involved in the fun. The one locale that always plunges head first into the deep end of the Gen Con spirit is The Ram Restaurant and Brewery.

Every year during Gen Con, The Ram changes its decor, plays gamer oriented movies on their television screens, hosts gaming events and even re-prints their menu with Gen Con themed names for their menu selections. For this reason, along with their great food and specialty beers, The Ram has become the traditional Gen Con destination for not only me and my buddies during those four days, but also for the majority of the Gen Con community. Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Lord Carver's Blackclad burger which is really just their Bourbon Blackjack burger in disguise. And their Ram Chips are the perfect side dish.

The Ram brews their own beer as well and I find that I am quite fond of their Menoth's Fury (don't ask me who Menoth is. I don't know) which is the alter ego of the Butface Amber Ale, featuring a complex malt character with sweet caramel and toffee flavors balanced with Cascade and Willamette hops. I liked it so much, I bought two growlers full. Of course, they didn't last very long. Such is the deliciousness of this beer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pictures From Gen Con 2011

Another Gen Con is down and another good time was had by everyone in my group. One of the best things about Gen Con, aside from the non-stop gaming is the costumes that certain gamers wear throughout the convention. Have a look at the slideshow below and see what they came up with this year.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Demon Burp

I've often claimed that my burps aren't mere gaseous emanations from my digestive track released through my mouth. Rather, they are the furious cries of my latent demonic side. As a birthday present, I asked the fine folks over at the InstantFX booth at Gen Con to make this claim a reality by using their video effects talents. Here's the result:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Let's Get This Birthday Party Started

It's my birthday today and I felt that it was time to kick this Gen Con up a notch and get a little crazy. I had a somewhat filling family-style dinner with the boys at Buca di Beppo. Neglecting decades of tradition and deciding to wrestle with one of my odd phobias, I actually allowed the waitresses to sing Happy Birthday to me. That sort of thing had made me uncomfortable since I was 10, which caused me to halt all further childhood birthday bashes (which pleased my mother to no end).  I never know what to do with myself when a group sings to me like that. Do I sing along with everyone? Do I just sit there and smile? Who do I look at? I guess it's just some latent embarrassment from everyone looking at me without me actually doing anything to encourage it. Thankfully, the ordeal was over pretty quickly and we could move on with the night.

After playing a few games, I was eager for some unconventional convention fun. The boys and I headed off to the convention center to take some goofy pictures. It was late into the evening, so there was only a skeleton crew of Gen Con staff running around managing events. We ran into the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game room where I proceeded to have a bunch of pictures taking of myself pretending to lay spiked dragon eggs against a WOW backdrop. The room's game master approached us. It was obvious that he felt our shenanigans and our uproarious laughter were disrupting the games. He nervously approached us and timidly chatted us up, inquiring about whether or not we liked playing the World of Warcraft Trading Card game. It was clear that he wanted us to leave, but was too afraid to ask, so we headed further down the convention hall. Right before we left, I absconded with a hopper hat from some other RPG that was sharing the room. From that moment on, it would be my birthday crown.

The boys and I soon happened upon an open sideshow stage and did one of our improvised nerd dances for the small crowd that was assembling. The stage swayed a little too much with our raucous dancing, so we ended this particular segment abruptly by leading the crowd in a chant of "All the gamers say: Happy (Happy) Birthday (Birthday)". A few of the crowd even wanted to have their pictures taken with us.

After taking a number of zany pictures around the Dungeons and Dragons room, we burst into a free-play gaming room that had a foam-sword fighting ring set up. I picked up a bunch of random gear for some pictures and was quickly accosted by some dude dressed up as a frost giant. I would have to fight my way out, so I donned my Hulk Hands and attacked. It turned out to be a pitched battle. When the gentleman in the frost giant outfit removed his helmet, I informed him that it was my birthday. He immediately dropped his accent. "You're TommyMac? I've heard of you guys! I heard you were causing all sorts of laughter around here. I'm glad to be part of this!".

After a few more random pictures, we packed it in, headed back to the hotel and cracked a few beers. It was already creeping into the wee hours of the morning so we spent a little time playing an RPG, having a few drinks and talking about the craziness of the night.

Best Birthday Ever? Quite possibly. All the more excuse to try and outdo it next year.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game

I'm not much for playing tabletop RPGs. In fact, before this weekend, I don't believe I have ever played one. Since I was attending Gen Con, I thought it might be time that I actually sit down and try to play a game. The boys decided on Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game by Flying Frog Productions. It's a fast past, pulp-style adventure set in the 1930's with swashbuckling heroes, vile villains and legendary treasure.

I know I shouldn't judge the proverbial book by its cover, but Fortune and Glory is a beautiful game to look at. Just looking at it, I wanted to play it. The board is gorgeously designed and the character photos are straight out of a pulp novel. The art is just one aspect that makes it so easy to become immersed in this game. Thankfully, the art is backed up by a very engaging story where the heroes either compete against each other to bring back ancient artifacts or cooperate to take on the Nazis and the Mob.

I had a lot of fun playing this game, drinking a few beers and talking about all manner of subjects with my friends. I never realized what a very social thing gaming is. What was even better for me was talking to the employees of Flying Frog Productions at their Gen Con booth and discovering that each of them were the faces behind various characters in Fortune and Glory. I acted like an obsessed fan pursuing autographs from all of the employees. A few of them are shown below.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Flying Without My Wingman

Jason was the one who introduced me to the Gen Con group consisting of Gene and Todd and James. It was Jason who encouraged me to tag along to Gen Con with them all last year. He couldn't come along this year due to work commitments, so I would be navigating the Indianapolis nightlife without my favorite wingman. I wondered how I would handle what the city would throw at me without his flanking bonus.

While the boys headed out to do some gaming last night, I called on my friend Helene, an employee of a large gaming company whom I met last year. She invited me to hang out and do a little bar hopping with her and a number of other industry insiders. I readily accepted, but was a little nervous because I felt so out of my element. I txted Jason telling him that I felt weird flying solo in a strange town. He texted me back: "You don't need me, you've got the TommyMac charm. You got this". 

I met Helene at The Ram for a quick drink and then she brought me around to meet up with her friends and colleagues. Not being a gamer, I was very worried that I wouldn't have much to talk about with these people, but, thankfully, they weren't much for talking shop. They were all very outgoing, witty and very hospitable. I felt like I was part of the group right away.

I didn't talk much at first. I was much more fascinated by the interaction between the personalities involved. I get the impression that the tabletop RPG industry is a rather small one where most everyone knows each other. It has to be very odd mundane to travel from event to event running into the same people all of the time, so I felt that my presence among the group was something of a pleasant novelty. I was someone who hadn't heard their stories. I was someone they'd have to take some time to get to know.

At our final destination for the night I was able to shine a little by showing off the website and doing some impressions. I don't know that I was as big of a hit as I had hoped to be, but I got my share of laughs, got a lot of compliments on the website and, in the end, I think I made some new friends whom I will hopefully be able to hang out with next year.

So, Jason was right. I don't always need backup in unfamiliar social situations. And I figure that it's good for me to occasionally work out of my element. Still, I'm sure it would have been even more fun had my wingman been there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hell Is Waiting Three Hours In Line

We arrived at Gen Con early this morning ready to take on the Con and bask in the glory of role-playing gaming goodness. All of us aside from James pre-purchased our tickets online and arranged to have them waiting for us at the Will Call booth. We teased poor James and told him he would probably end up waiting in line for several hours to purchase his ticket. We laughed, we joked and then we saw the huge Will Call line before us. It ran the length of the convention center twice over and then snaked out the door.

We waited for nearly three hours as the slow moving line creeped ever forward. I was starting to get passive/aggressive. A maintenance worker objected to us dragging one of the convention couches along with us in the line and I shot back "Don't you have some folding chairs to set up somewhere?". When a Gen Con worker walked up and down the line explaining that people who missed paid events due to the long Will Call line would be refunded their event cost, I sarcastically asked him if the refund line was as long as the Will Call line. We soon happened upon a minstrel with a lute playing to the crowd for tips. I asked him he knew a song called "This Line Sucks Ass". He said he didn't, but he could fake it, so I dropped some money in his till and implored him to play on.

After about three hours of Hell, we finally got our badges. James was waiting for us outside of the exhibit hall. He had run through the purchase line in a mere 15 minutes. I should really be pissed at the overall disorganization that caused this huge backup. But, I don't know what to attribute it to. All I can say is, it ran much smoother last year and lines this long were unheard of.

Check Out Net 10

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Net10 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The price of cell phone calling packages are out of control these days. What's worse is that most companies will do everything they can to bind you to a long-term contract. Thanks to Net10 and their Unlimited deal, people are starting to see the Light

Whether you're looking for pre-paid cell phone plans for personal or business purposes, Net10 Unlimited is a great deal. There are no contracts to worry about and there are no surprise bills or redit checks. With Net10 you get great nationwide coverage with excellent reception/connectivity. And you don't need to worry about getting bound to some second-rate cell phone because Net10 only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung.

One of the best parts about Net10 plans is that you can switch between them from month to month. Are you going to do a lot of communicating this month? Activate the Net10 Unlimited plan with text and web for $50. Are you on a tight budget this month? Go with the Easy Minutes plan and get 200 minutes for $15. There's no penalty for switching  between plans.This is a great feature for people or businesses who have changing communication needs.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Redneck Rafting

The kiddo and I went camping with some friends over the weekend. Our final activity for the weekend involved floating down the river in inner-tubes. I used to do this when I was a kid at summer camp. They called it tubing. I'm told that, around here, the activity is called "floating". Apparently, tubing involves being pulled by a boat and floating is just floating with the river current.

I had no idea what a popular Summer activity floating is. There were enough groups of people at the launch site to cause a bit of a queue to form. Anyway, I hooked kiddo into her life jacket, secured the cooler into its own tube and set off down the river for a little leisurely adventure. It was a the perfect day for floating for the wind was gently blowing, the current was steady and the Sun was shining in a nearly cloudless sky. I cracked a few bottles of Sam Adams Summer Ale, conversed with my friends, my daughter and various random people who floated on by our group.

We planned to stop for lunch at a sandbar at the midway point. The current was pulling me and my daughter a bit too hard, so I flipped out of my tube in order to push ourselves onto the sandbar. It was at that moment that my legs gave out and I experienced a painful double Charley horse which was obviously the result of dehydration. We were at the mercy of the current as I writhed in agony. Thankfully, a group of people on the sandbar saw our predicament and swam out to pull us in.

I recovered on the sandbar by drinking a fair amount of water and having my sunblock re-applied. Our group pulled our pre-ordered Jimmy Johns sandwiches from the cooler and relaxed for a bit. We soon shoved off again and happened upon a rope swing tied to a tall tree protruding far out from the shore. Many of us stopped in order to swing from the rope and drop into the river. I was about to step up for my turn when my daughter forbade me to participate. She was worried that I would be hurt. I laughed to myself and excused myself from my place in line. She would behave in the same manner when we reached the end of our journey which was marked by a bridge across the river.

A number of people both in and out of our own group wanted to jump from the bridge into the river. However, a police officer was sitting up the road in his cruiser waiting to catch underage drinkers as they emerged from the river. My daughter and I helped the others in my group deflate the tubes and pack up the rest of the equipment while keeping a keen eye on the police officer. It wasn't long before a random car sped down the road which prompted the cruiser to give chase. The second the officer whizzed across the bridge to pull the speeding car over, a gaggle of tipsy rednecks ran up the side of the bridge and jumped over the edge into the river like a bunch of horny lemmings.

And that's how I ended my day. I was a little sunburned, a little dehydrated but genuinely very pleased that I'd had such a good time with my friends and with my daughter.

Monday, August 1, 2011

American College of Education Calls Kermit The Frog

One of the reps at American College of Education called looking for Kermit Daffrog (Kermit The Frog, get it?) and I obligingly launched into my a poor voice imitation of everyone's favorite Muppet. I could tell that my impression wasn't holding up very well, so after telling the rep that I was married to a real pig who brings home the bacon, I threw in the towel and admitted that I was messing with him. The rep from American College of Education was a really good sport about the whole thing.