Thursday, November 23, 2006

Not Exactly

Place: Golden Corral
Lunch: Golden Choice Buffet (uh, let see...I had some steak, and chicken, and turkey, and salmon, potato salad, clam chowder, chili, some cookies...), water

There's basically two things to look at as you drive across Nebraska...Cows, and highway patrolmen.
The patrolmen are a lot like mosquitoes. They're everywhere. They sit in the medians and look for any excuse to bite. You can drive I-80 from coast to coast and not see another patrol car outside of Nebraska. There was a news story on last night about how somebody came through with a grant to put even MORE of them than normal on the road this weekend.

This morning, the inevitable for anybody who goes through Nebraska regularly happened...I got to meet one. The reason: No front license plate. The car in question? A Hertz rental.

Apparently, Hertz didn't deem the plate necessary. They apparently didn't think leaving the vehicle registration in the glove box was necessary either, but the rental agreement sufficed with the patrolman. I did find a sealed bag full of screws marked "License plate holder" in the glove box.

So the patrolman has me go back to his Crown Vic and asks me all sorts of personal questions. This is sort of a casual interrogation method. The guy clearly thinks I'm up to no good, and he's hoping to twist my words around so he has an excuse to search the car, or worse.

"What do you do for a living?"
"What is your destination?"
"Do you have family there?"
"Why are you going there?"
"Who is traveling with you?"
"What do they do for a living?"
"Where are you originally from?"
"Is that where you're going now?"

"Where are you staying?"
"Are you staying with people or in a motel?"
"Do you have a reservation at that motel?"

Those are not exaggerations. He really asked me those things. And it REALLY bothered me.

I don't think the Kansas Division of Tourism could do more to promote traveling through Kansas on I-70 than Nebraska patrolmen can by making people want to avoid Nebraska completely.

Ultimately disappointed, he gives me a "no-fee violation warning" to give to Hertz for the lack of front plate.

I'll probably bug Hertz to swap cars tomorrow. They WILL be getting an earful from me for putting me in that position.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Place: Ted's Coney Island
Lunch: Coney basket (chili dog, fries, onion rings, cole slaw), Pepsi

Ted's is a greasy spoon in an old IHOP A-frame. People love it because it's local. At least I hope that's why people love it because the food is terrible. I don't even know why they call it "Coney Island". The focus is on Gyros.

So it's here. The new PlayStation 3 gaming system.

The hype has been growing for the past couple of weeks. The usual issues with any new gaming system (except Nintendo Wii, apparently) are being heard. Specifically, the word "shortages". Sony can't build enough of them, but are releasing it anyway.

The news stories Friday were ridiculous. Two armed punks held up a line in Connecticut demanding money, and one guy got shot. A store line in Kentucky was the scene of a drive-by shooting. The mayor in one city was firing a letter off to Sony demanding they pay for his city's police costs in the melee that broke out at a local mall.

The really stupid thing about this is that most of the buyers aren't buying it to play. They're buying it to resell on eBay at a hefty profit.
PS3's were going for an average $1500 on eBay. If people were honest and good and only people who wanted the system to actually play it were able to be the first buyers, none of this would have happened, and few would have been disappointed.

My video gaming history as a child started with a Radio Shack device that looked like a big cordless phone. It had a dial to select the game, which included a Pong copy called Tennis and a few variations with double players and what not. It also had a Skeet shooting game with an included gun. It was ten kinds of awesome.

Then we got an Atari VCS (later known as the 2600) for Christmas. It was the center of entertainment in the house for a couple of years until the Atari 5200 came along. That's the first one I purchased myself. I saved up the $315 it cost (after tax), plus some money for games. A local video rental store special ordered it for me. Over the years, I owned nearly every title ever released for the thing. I LOVED the 5200. The initial controllers wore out on me, but a second pair I got on closeout from an Atari authorized dealer lasted until I sold the thing in 1990, along with my next system, the Atari 7800.

I also owned the first three Nintendo units. Never owned many games for them. The 64 was a complete waste of money for me.

When PS2 came out, I wanted one because all the cool arcade games from my childhood had come out in PlayStation editions as near perfect ports and the PS2's capabilities would make for great hockey, wrestling, and race games. The day after Christmas the year it was released, I was in Target and, as was heading up the aisles past Electronics, I happened to spy a single unit for sale in the video game case. That's still my current gaming system (that original one, which is amazing considering the quality problems that model had initially.) I own a bunch of retro compilations and maybe a half dozen actual PS2 titles. I still haven't completed a whole season of NHL Hockey, and I have the 2001 edition. About the only real PS2 game I've seriously played over time on it is Splashdown.

Considering what I play, and the fact I don't have a high definition television yet, the PS3 serves literally no purpose in my life. Maybe in a couple of years. But I'm a sucker for marketing hype. If nothing else, I want to see what all the fuss is about.

So yesterday at 11:30am, I walked into my local Best Buy and wandered back to the video games section, thinking they'd have a display model and I could watch frenzied fans playing it. Much to my surprise, I found two PlayStation 3's on the shelf AVAILABLE FOR SALE! One guy was leering over one reading the specs, and one store employee was stationed there to watch the aisle. Nobody else around. If I had been so inclined, I could have walked out of the store with one.

The store's demo display was available for play. Some sort of 4x4 truck racing game. It was pretty cool. No more cool than the racing games I have on my PS2. The graphics were sharper, but nothing mind boggling. I suspect it could have been rendered nearly exactly this way for my console. The system itself, however, is BEAUTIFUL. Really sharp looking.

I probably would have bought it if I had the spare funds and an HDTV.

No, no. That's silly. I've already established that.

Sony should appreciate me waiting. They might actually make money on the unit by then.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wag the Dog

Place: Samurai Sam's Teriyaki Grill
Lunch: Chicken Yaki Soba bowl, egg roll, water

Ever had an egg roll grilled? It's not bad.

It's Election Day, the day those of us with any sort of responsibility and lack of convicted felonies vote for the politicians of our choice. Tragically, no government I know of has ever made "none of the above" an option on the ballot.

For the past three months, literally every available local television spot has been filled with anger, slander, accusations, and overall meanness as politicians spew their personal and bitter hatred at each other. Guess they couldn't find anything good to say about themselves. One of the twists that seemed to be popular this year was an attempt to suggest opponents look like they were against things they and their party are absolutely for. Trying to wag the dog, as it were. If it weren't so sad and ridiculous, it might be funny.

But that all ends tonight, and once again the local airwaves will be occupied by commercials for farm chemicals, miracle cholesterol lowering prescription drugs, and Hardee's.

So I headed to the high school up the street this morning to vote. It's an old monstrosity of a building that looks a lot like the professor's house in "The Chronicles of Narnia". It should be interesting because they've been touting the electronic voting doo-hickeys, so it's a whole new process.

Except that it's not. At least not here. I am handed the standard paper ballot and a pen to fill in the ovals.

Not that the old system doesn't work. It's fine. I was just hoping for the latest technological advancements in voting science. To touch the screen and have my vote cast. And to maybe get in a game of Asteroids Deluxe on the side.

Oh well.

About the only thing I can say about our two candidates for governor is that either one can't help but be an improvement over the current idiot, and that either way, they and all politicians are scumbags.

There is no such thing as a good politician. There's just greed and ego.