Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Far and Away from my PS4

Day 77: Robots in Disguise

Its been over a week since I blogged but the delay has been for the best possible reasons—the ocean and a mec (plus I had a crap ton of grading to do).

The Mec

A few weeks ago a guest speaker in one of my communication courses reported that the Target distribution center in Kern county is bigger than the Empire state building laying on its side.  Inside this local Target warehouse lives a giant robot that helps the human workers (so much awesome).  Since this revelation, and buying the game Helldivers, I have been fixated on getting a Mec to control in game (just to be clear, the game Helldivers not the Target mec). 

And it finally happened, last Thursday we finally got exosuit and now every game we play I just clank behind John and mow down all oncoming bugs/cyborgs/illuminate.  On a side note, if my character walks to close to the hubs character in game, while I am wearing the big metal suit it does damage because I stomped on him.  What a great metaphor for life, when I am fully suited in my armor and get too close to the hubs I can make him bleed.

Since we earned the exosuit we have been playing Helldivers every spare moment we can get.  I even played a few planets with our son who is a few levels behind me.  When I played with our son, as soon as I called my Mec he climbed inside forcing me to call my backup because he loved playing as a robot as much as his mama.  Over the weekend we were away from our PS4 for almost 72 hours and had to instead rely on our mobile games.

Our Fav Mobile Game

My last out of town trip was solo and John installed Carcossone and Agricola on our mobile devices so that we could pass and play.  Since that trip we have ongoing games of virtual Carcassone that often take days to complete.  Since the first time we ever played Carcassone on our phones I have only beaten the hubs once, and it was before we watched the tutorial and understood how to play, so my first win does not entirely count.

The Ocean

New blue hair with the hubs at the ocean

We travelled out of town to attend a marriage workshop near the beach.  We thought it would be all sand and relaxation but the trip was actually a lot of work and simultaneously we suffered some PS4 
withdrawal.  The most enjoyable aspect of the trip was meeting another couple that like us are also board game geeks.  They proclaimed they are “strange” because their standard celebratory gifts are board games to one another (um, most romantic thing ever). 

Unsurprisingly this couple, like the hubs and me, had also brought board games along on their weekend away.  After playing Sushi Go and Carcassonne, people who started as strangers became our fast friends.  The beach was beautiful but my favorite part of the trip was the first time we play the RL copy of Carcassonne (and I won and have included a photo of our awesome board).

The game Carcassonne is wonderful digitally but it is so much better face-to-face.  The face-to-face game is easier to modify and as the pieces start to weave together you move in closer to the people around you and start to silently communicate in building a region from nothing.

Tip of the day: Some days play without your armor so you don’t make your partner bleed.  And, always take the opportunity to play games, even with strangers you never know what you will find out about yourself and your coupleship.    

Handstands at Ocean
Coping with PS4 withdrawal
 requires inversions
Final board for my first Carcossone victory

Monday, March 16, 2015

Glitter vs Jem Part 3

Day 68: Dr. CCB is Totally Outrageous 

I love my gray hair and commentary from the internet did not make me hate myself and run to the nearest beauty parlor.  However, I made a decision after a frank conversation with my 8-year old who said “mom you should have your hair every color of the rainbow, you are super fun, and your hair should be fun too.” I am super fun and that conversation reminded me that I can do anything I want, and I want to have crazy hair.

The Dilemma

2nd Grader and her Lemur Advising on Color
The problem with finding a haircut and color that matches my personality is that I am not good at girl stuff.  Searching magazines, and pinterest for hairstyles is about as appealing to me as a colonoscopy, I would much rather be getting my exo-suit in Helldivers.  My first impulse was to trust my second grader to give me input, her idea remains to dye my hair the color of her favorite my little ponies, starting with powder blue for rainbow dash (yup my kid is awesome).  Second, I asked a friend with fun hair for advice and was immediately directed me to the Atomic Kitten salon. 

I went last week to meet with my stylist Cheryl and informed her I wanted crazy hair.  She asked for a length, color palette, or inspiration photo (I had none of these things).  Instead I told her to let her imagination run wild and that I would bring my 8-year old to help with direction (this woman is immeasurably patient).  Cheryl was up for the challenge, albeit a little concerned that I was unstable and might weep if she made me look too much like a fictional pony.

The Moment
Buffy Season 6 Before Cut 
Buffy Season 6 After Haircut 
 There were several phases of my hair creation and not all were pretty.  Within the first 10 minutes I knew Cheryl was an artist with a vision that understood me.  She started by unceremoniously chopping of my hair, the first blunt cut was meant to simplify the coloring process.  But as I waited for her to mix my color I almost wept because my hair style matched Buffy’s hair transformation in the season 6 episode “Gone” that had initially inspired me to cut off my hair many years ago.  We had discussed cutting my hair even shorter but as soon as I saw this first cut I knew this was the right length, the right moment, and the perfect stylist for me.

My Blue Period

I have entered the blue phase of my life as hand-selected by Cheryl my stylist and my visionary little daughter.  My hair is different but I still feel like me.

Inara (the second grader) is already plotting my next color scheme.  Look out world because a video game playing, crazy colored Jem hair, yoga practicing mom is on a rampage and she is going to blog about it. 
Dr. CCB before Jem Hair March 2015
Dr. CCB with Rainbow Dash/ Jem Inspired Hair March 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Hubs Guest Blog 2.0

Day 67: Memories and Shot Guns 

Our family’s current gaming obsession is Helldivers.  Me and Chris will play a couple levels every day and Nate (the 6 year-old) even plays occasionally if he has been good.  The game has even drawn Inara in as a very active observer (she loves when me or Chris kill each other). Hell, even my mom got sucked in the other day.  The game is great but it has this quality where it is always creating “moments”

This occurred to me when me and the Doc were walking through Target and she was upset that Inara only wants to watch because she hopes we will kill each other.  I explained that I’m pretty sure Inara just gets sucked into those “moments.” Every good movie, or game has them, like when Gimli and Legolas are counting off how many Orcs they have killed at Helmsdeep,  Or the scene in Pacific Rim where Mako reveals that she added a Giant Kaiju slaying sword to Gypsy Danger.  

Or if you are more game inclined the first time you jump over Bowser and learn “the princess is in another castle” or the first time you really hear Comstock say “Would you kindly…”  maybe even the first time a motion game actually “works”.  All good movies or games should have these moments, usually carefully crafted by their creators but great games let you make your own.

The fact that Helldivers makes these moments all the time is why we love it.  This blog posts is meant to share a few examples of these moments for our family created by the game Helldivers.

It's the gun Not me really (Inara's Favorite)

I had just unlocked the shotgun and decided to try it out on a mission.  We are running through the level and Chris ran ahead, I came up to shoot the bugs surrounding her and BAM the bugs are all dead, so is she.  Crap.  So I call in a drop pod to bring her back.  Moments later a patrol shows up and we are swarmed by bugs, we both start firing killing bugs left and right, when the dust settles I realize I’m the only one left, I killed her again.  Since it was so close to calling her in I had to wait another minute in game to call her in.  I scramble and run until I can call her back in, when she is back we run to the shuttle.  We call in the shuttle and just have to survive the 90 seconds till it shows up, I’m being careful only shooting bugs, we start to get surrounded and I run then at the last second notice I was about to run into a minefield, I turn around to kill the bugs on my tail and the Doc drops a third time.  The bugs swarm me as I ran out of ammo and we finally fail the mission.

The Posthumus Savior Turret

We are trying to hold a point as we capture it, we have water on one side and open field on the other.  The bugs aren’t slowed by the water but we can barely move through it.  Bugs start swarming from every direction, so we both kneel to call in reinforcments, me a quick airstrike and Chris predictably calls her favorite automated turret.  There is a big pack approaching Chris from the south so I tell her to run and I’ll call in my airstrike, instead of running she hits the deck and gets vaporized with all the bugs.  I swear a little and start running for my life.  I run north am gunning down bug after bug, when I hear the click meaning I’m out of ammo.  I try to switch to my pistol but some bugs get to me and I start crawling away bleeding out, when I hear a sound like the answering of a prayer, the hum of a turret winding up.  Apparently the good Doctor called it in right before she died.  It clears all the bugs and keeps me safe I heal up call her back in and we finish the level.

The New Rocket Launcher

I had just unlocked a new rocket launcher and me and Nate were playing against some cyborgs.  He’s only 6 so I usually have to pull most of the weight when we play but we still have fun.  It also doesn’t help that likes to use the murderous shotgun.  Anyways, we get an opening so I decide to call in my Rocket Launcher, it's pretty awesome, it only has one shot but the other player can pick up a backpack to reload you between shots.  We are trying to capture a point when a patrol sees us, we get surrounded and I go down.  Not sure if it was Cyborgs or that Shotgun, but I say “Nathan come help me up!”  So he makes a bee-line to me.  However, instead of helping me up he picks up the rocket launcher and laughs maniacally.  At this point Inara and my Mom both start rolling.  He runs away shoots some cyborgs who conveniently surrounded me killing all of them (and me).  He then tries to reload but can’t get away.   


I could go on forever, we have more moments and more will be made every day.  One of the things I realize in this process of recovery is that before I would isolate all the time and experience these “moments” alone.   Now I make them with my family, my friends, and my fellows.  These moments bring us together, make us closer and have things that for years we will be able to say “remember that time…”

Even if you don’t play Helldivers or games, maybe you like Golf, or board games or fishing, go out with your family, your partner and make more Moments, fill your life with “remember that time…”’s


To continue the tradition, Wil Wheaton, you should come make moments with us to, or just help us kill bugs in Helldivers.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Married People Play Video Games in a Scandalous Way

Day 65: FTW married gamer geeks shock their therapist

The great thing about therapy is it gives you an outside perspective and can often be affirming.  It is only affirming if you have a good therapist, and you know how experienced they are when you say all kinds of crazy things and they never even flinch.  Our therapist has been awesome but this week the hubs caught her off guard, at the strangest moment while talking about our daily gaming sessions.

In mid-story she cocked her head to the side, looked up towards the ceiling, and paused mouth agape.  It happened, the un-flinching woman had been flummoxed.  And if the story was enough to ruffle the feathers of our therapist, even if only momentarily, then I thought our blog readers might enjoy the re-telling of the story that gave a medical professional pause.

The Scandalous Story

“My mom is visiting from Florida, we heard her come through the front door and she was walking around looking to see who was home.  We were in mid-campaign and she probably heard the television. When she saw my head sticking out of the bathtub she started to talk but as she walked closer she seemed surprised.  I wasn't sure why my mom seemed so shocked when she realized Chris (the wife) was in the tub with me?  I could not figure out why she, my mom, would be surprised that we were playing Helldivers on the PS4 in the bathtub like we normally do?”

As the therapist listened to this story she paused and said “Do you play a lot of games together in the bath?”

The hubs simply replied “yes” and went back to his story.  It took only a few more moments for him to realize that the implication of her question was that she likely assumed we were naked and sudsy while we played.  And that his unsuspecting mother had come in to find us naked together when she arrived. Although that makes for a more colorful story that is not what occurred.

Video Games in the Bathtub

The most lasting impression for me from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s was not the diamonds, LBD, or cat, but instead a the sofa made of a bathtub.  A 300-pound cast iron claw foot tub that was converted into a sofa by the hubs is one my most prized possessions.  Though it usually lives in a corner under a window, we move it a few times a week directly in front of the TV and then both climb inside to play.  We never thought to contextualize to our doctor that we have a sofa tub because it is such a normal part of our lives, it does not feel unusual.  It occurred to me I do not have a single photo of me and the hubs in the now infamous tub but here are a few photos of it from the last few months. 

Jack & Nate BFF's in the tub Summer 14
The Original Inspiration (obs not me)