The Life Update
Okay, so it's been a while since the last entry. What else is new? If you read the last entry, then you will know that I've been busy with the beta of the Burning Crusade and then, of course, with the release version. But that will all be covered later in the games post.

Okay since the last post, much has happened. Let's see how much I remember.

Heather and I went to her parents' house for Thanksgiving again. This time I got to meet her brother Chris. I think it went pretty well. There are some picture from our trip to Sioux City on the Vacation Photos page.

Next up, Heather and I got to go to a wine tasting/class at the Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls, MN. Some of Heather's co-workers won the tasting in a charitable auction and were nice enough to invite us along (Thank-you Edie and Jeff!). We had a great time. Who would have thought that a winery in MN would be good.

Heather ended up going home for Christmas. It was just as well anyway, as our Christmas was put on hold with the arrival of Angela's baby girl, Makaela Irene Reinke, on the 23rd of December. She is quite the cutie. But she also has quite the set of lungs on her. I don't think I could scream that loud and for that long without passing out. She's doing very well and has enough clothes to last her about 7 or 8 years. My family has gone a bit nuts buying clothing. I'm kind of scared to see what my mother does when I have kids. Click here to see a picture of Makaela.

Speaking of kids, a few days before Makaela was born, Tony and Alycia had a baby girl of their own. Abigail Grace Coleman was born on December 18th. Last I heard both mom and baby were doing great.

Just after Christmas, I took Heather to a Wolves-Supersonics game. We had good seats but the game was a little boring. KG had a bit of an off night, but everyone else managed to pick up the slack. The Wolves managed to win the game but it was a fairly lackluster performance most of the time. I will say that Mark Blount is the best center the Wolves have had in years.

Right about this time Blizzard released the Burning Crusade upon us. So naturally, I had to step up and take the fight to the Burning Legion. Yes, I know I'm a dork. If you want to know about the BC, read the game post below.

So after a slight respite of just work and gaming, the end of February brought a new adventure. Heather and I travelled to San Diego. Heather's brother was nice enough to let us stay with him while we visited him and Heather's grandparents. Her grandparents actually live near Tucson, AZ and drove over to San Diego to see her and meet me. I've now completely another milestone with Heather, the meeting of the grandparents. I guess her father was contemplating visiting as well, but at the last minute he had to go to France for work.

San Diego was a LOT of fun. We got in about noon on Saturday (we left MN just before the first big snow storm of the week) and Chris took us to lunch at this nice little rooftop restaurant overlooking the Pacific. It was beautiful out, we had highs of 70 all week while we were there. Then Chris has gotten us tickets to the San Diego State University vs Brigham Young University basketball game. The game was incredible. I've never been to a large conference college game before but this one was impressive. Much better than the Wolves game we went to in December. The one down side was there were TV timeouts every other minute and 3 kids behind us that are probably going to be featured in an upcoming episode of the Nanny 911 or Supernanny. After that it was off to meet the grandparents and have dinner. I think the meeting of the grandparents went quite well. It helps that Heather's grandparents are very nice.

Sunday Heather and I started our day with a harbor tour of San Diego. Heather complained that I took too many pictures but I don't care, it was interesting. Between the military base on Coronado and the ship yards on the south end of the harbor, I have many picture of Naval and Coast Guard ships. Unfortunately the 2 active aircraft carriers that call San Diego home were both out on maneuvers. Although the USS Midway is a permanent resident of the harbor. Unfortunately after the harbor tour, Heather wasn't too eager to tour the Midway. So we walked down the waterfront a ways and wandered through the Seaport Village. I think the tour guide said it was designed to resemble and Spanish seaside village. Basically it was a bunch of specialty shops. I was intrigued by the store that sold nothing but hot sauces, but in the end I though all of the shops were a bit over priced. After wandering for a bit, we decided to head back to Chris's until we were supposed to meet the grandparents for dinner. It was then that we had out first trolley experience. Basically the San Diego trolley system is like the lightrail system in the cities. Except this one doesn't go anywhere it should. It doesn't go to the airport, Seaworld, the Zoo, the wild animal park, or even the beach. From what I can tell it goes to the shopping mall, downtown. the convention center and Qualcomm Stadium (where the Chargers play). In addition the whole system appears to run on the honor system, as there is no real check in place for whether or not you have a ticket. But after a short ride, a train switch and a short walk, we were back at Chris's apartment. Heather's grandparents took us to dinner that night at the Black Angus Steakhouse. The food was great but what I liked most was the atmosphere. All of the seating consisted of high back, like nearly floor to ceiling, booths. It was like being in your own little world. You couldn't hear or see the people in the next booth and you didn't need to yell over them to be heard by the people in you booth. But the food was really great.

We spent Monday at SeaWorld with Heather's grandparents. We spent the whole day there. And we still didn't see everything. The place is huge. Although, the shows take up a good portion of the day. The shark exhibit was great although it was a bit on the dark side, which made it tough to get any good photos. But it was a good day overall and it was nice to spend some time with Heather's grandparents, as I said they are very nice.

Tuesday was our one blah day in San Diego. It rained until about 11 but it was nice after that. Since Heather and I still had some gifts to buy, we decided to take the trolley down to "Old Town". Plus Heather wanted to have lunch at a restaurant that our guide book recommended, the Old Town Mexican Cafe. While you wait to be seated you can watch them hand making all of the tortillas. Once again, the food was excellent. Personally I didn't care as much for the atmosphere, but that would just be because I kept getting dive-bombed by birds. We were seated in the open air portion of the restaurant. I've never quite understood that concept. Why do people enjoy eating outdoors. If I wanted to eat outside with the birds and bugs, I'd go camping. Anyway, as I said, the food was excellent. After that we walked around Old Town for a bit and picked up some gifts for the folks back home. This was a much better and more reasonably priced area than the Seaport Village. It had more of a farmer's market feel to it. Eventually we had to head back to Chris's and hit the outdoor hot-tub for a while. Did I mention it was beautiful weather there? Our flight was early Wednesday morning, so after the hot-tub we headed over to say goodbye to Heather's grandparents.

I'd say it was a great trip. There are pictures (mostly of boats) on the Vacation Photos page. Plus we missed the first big snow storm of that week. Unfortunately we got home just in time for the second one.

The second storm nearly complicated another event that was happening that weekend. Amy had planned a surprise 30th birthday party for Mike at Gluek's in Minneapolis. It was quite the surprise for him considering it was a month before his birthday. The problem came in that Estela, a friend of our from college, was flying in from Ohio for the party and Ed and Des were driving up from Iowa. Fortunately, the state was better prepared for this storm and most of the roads were in good condition by Saturday. It was nice to see Estela again. I hadn't seen her since her wedding like 6 or 7 years ago.

Well that's it for the general life update. Next weekend I'll be in Iowa helping Ed and Des move back to civilization. Okay well, St. Peter, MN. But hey it's closer to civilization.
The Gaming Update
As I've stated before, I got to be in the last few rounds of beta testing for the Burning Crusade. I'm not sure I've ever explain what that means for the general populate who have no idea what beta testing is. The beta version of a game is basically an incomplete and bug filled version of the game. It's the "not ready for primetime" version. So the company has a bunch of people, some volunteers and some employees, that play the game and send in error reports when something is broken. The interesting thing is that you get to see things before they are done. Sometimes this is frustrating, like when a quest is bugged and you can't complete it, and sometime is just plain cool, like when they haven't put the texture map on a character yet and he's just this green wireframe with no skin. In any case it's an interesting look at the evolution of a game through the development process.

But as I've also stated, the beta is over and it's all for keeps now. The Burning Crusade is here and it's awesome. First the new dungeons, at least the ones I've been in, are wonderfully designed. Plus they are a realistic size, which is much appreciated. Anyone who has run Black Rock Depths knows what I'm talking about. The only issue that I've come across in dungeons so far is that the second boss in The Underbog requires a mage or a warlock in the group to kill him. Otherwise it takes too long and your healers run out of mana. Hedana is doing well. She's up to level xx and has replaced most of her gear. She's been respec'd to Retribution and some Holy. I love the changes they made to retribution. I don't think that it made the Paladin class overpowered but I do keep pulling aggro off the main tank when we're running dungeons. Blizzard has created a new site called the Armory. You can look up stats on any guild or character in there. Click here to see Hedana's page.

Sadly, there where some losses to the Burning Crusade. I'm afraid that in order to make room for my new Blood Elf Mage and Draenei Shaman, I had to say goodbye to my Undead Warlock, Mortir, and Tauren Shaman, Munaki. They went honorably though, donating their money and bags to Maychen the Blood Elf Mage. Similarly, Munachi the Draenei Shaman what greeted by his Alliance siblings with open arms and wallets.

I won't go into too much detail here but basically the new starting areas contain two major areas, basically the equivalent of Northshire Abby and Goldshire for humans. I've played through all of the quests for the Draenei starting area and is ready to move on to one of the continents. She's at level 21, so I'm thinking she'll move to Lakeshire since I hate the Night Elf quest series. That's one of the reasons I love the Draenei starting area, the quest series is well done and flows together nicely. Maychen is only at level 6 so far, but from what I've played so far, both in the release and in the beta, the same can be said for the Blood Elf quest series.

Okay so that's enough World of WarCraft for now. Time to move on to some other game reviews.

First up, I recently tried the demo version of Tortuga Two Treasures and I have mixed feelings about it. It's a bit of a mixed game in that it is both a 3rd person, sword-in-hand game and a seafaring, blowup other boats game. It's strength is in the seafaring aspect. Although it is a bit simplistic and the boats turn slowly like real boats. But overall it's fairly enjoyable in short bursts. The trouble comes in when you hit the 3rd person part of the game. That part of the game is horrendous. The play control is just terrible. If you've read my past review then you know that play control on one o my highest priorities. Apparently, the same cannot be said for the developers. There were some cute parts of the 3rd person game, such as the crotch-kick attack. But overall, I couldn't uninstall the demo fast enough. If you want a pirate game, keep looking.

Next up is a game called Stoked Rider. It's a snowboarding game. I have no idea what possessed me to install it and try it, but it too couldn't uninstall fast enough. Again I'm going to site play control or rather the lack thereof as the source of my disdain for this game. If you want a snowboarding game again look elsewhere.

A while back I also tried a demo of F.E.A.R: Extraction Point. It's an expansion pack for F.E.A.R. and while I've never played the original, the expansion makes a good case for picking up the original. It's one of those spooky 1st person shooter games. But I didn't feel claustrophobic playing it like I do when I play DOOM3. Hallways are decent sized and there are far less spawn monsters. Most are there when you walk into the room. If you like FPS and were disappointed by DOOM3 (and really who wasn't?) then I recommend picking up a copy of this game.

I picked up a copy of God of War 2 the other day and for some reason it hasn't managed to find its what into the PS2 yet. But I'm sure it will by the next update. If it's half as good as the first one, it will be spectacular.

Finally, I'm sad to report that the CompUSA in Woodbury is closing. This is a personal tragedy for me as it was my source for cheap DVD-R discs and computer parts. But there is a silver-lining to every cloud and in this case it came in the form of a clearance sale. I picked up a cheap copy of Star Wars The Best Of PC. Basically it's a 5 in 1 game. It comes with copies of Empire at War, Battlefront, Knight of the Old Republic, Republic Commando and Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. Plus a 14 day trial of Star Wars Galaxies. Do people still play that game? I though everyone played WoW, Everquest, or Warhammer these days. Oh well couldn't hurt to try.

Well until next update, may the light of the naruu shine upon you or something like that.
Quick Movie Update
Okay maybe not that quick but hey if you've read this far you might as well keep going.

Casino Royale - First let me say that it was a very good movie. It was entertaining and was well acted. When they first announced the new Bond, I said "Who?" and I still can't remember his name without looking it up (Daniel Craig, I looked). But his character was very good. With all that said I now have to say this, Casino Royale was NOT a Bond movie. Oh sure the movie centered around a character called James Bond and they brought M back, but it was not Bond. Apparently when Pierce Brosnan left claiming that the role was too cheesy, the studio took his comments to heart and went to the other extreme. Now as far as I can remember Bond movie were about 3 things: gadgets, women with suggestive names and innuendo-laced one-liners. I will agree that the last few Bond movies took that too the extreme. Goldeneye was by far the best of the Brosnan era movies. But when you are casting Denise Richards in starring roles what do you expect? Sure she's nice to look at but do you have to give her lines? So gone are the gadgets, women with suggestive names and innuendo-laced one-liners. What does that leave us with? It leaves us with a complete break from Bond canon. Sure its a good movie, but it's not a good Bond movie. I say bring back Moneypenny and R. Bring back the gadgets. What is a spy without gadgets? Bring back the suggestively named women. And for the love of pete, bring back the cheesy one-liners, in moderation of course.

Now as a follow-up to my Bond rant, I received Volume 1 of the Ultimate Bond collection for Christmas. 2 disc sets of Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With The Golden Gun, The Living Daylights, and The World Is Not Enough. I have to say that they look and sound fabulous. It amazes me what we can do to re-master movies these days. They are well worth picking up. I'll have to see about picking up the rest of the series. I believe there are 4 volumes in all.

Little Miss Sunshine - I finally got a chance to see this movie recently. I was going to see it in theaters with Heather but she went and saw it without me. In any case if you have seen it you know that it was one of those hilarious, quirky comedies. I think Greg Kinnear is one of Hollywood's most underrated actors. If you haven't seen the movie you need to go see it right now. I'd have to rate this one up towards the top of my list of favorite quirky movies.

The DaVinci Code - Okay, so I'm not all the way through this one yet. I thin at this point I could go read the book in less time than it will take to finish watching the movie and it could be any less interesting. From what everyone has told me about the book, it's fascinating and moves along well and keeps you interested. A regular page turner. The movie so far, isn't. I'll give it a far shake though and finish it. Maybe I'll speak of it next update.

Serenity - Okay so I finally got around to this. I sat down and watched the whole series of Firefly and then sat down and watched Serenity. First I don't know what Fox was thinking when they cancelled Firefly. It's a wonderful space western with characters that click from episode 1. I'd have to rank it up there with Sport Night as one of the dumbest corporate cancellation decisions of all time. As for Serenity, I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much as I would have enjoyed a few more seasons of Firefly. I don't know why closure for TV series these days involves killing off a main character or two, but Serenity doesn't manage to escape this plot device. It seems especially common in Sci-Fi shows these days. Enterprise, Star Trek Nemesis, Angel, and Buffy are just a few examples where for some reason a main character dies at the end. I won't tell you who dies in Serenity, but one of them was my favorite character. Overall the movie was good, although like the last season of Enterprise it felt like they were rushing to try to resolve everything in a short time period.

Finally, I'd like to plug my new found favorite comedy, Scrubs. Yes I know it's been on for a while, but I've always avoided it because of my disdain for ER and all the other hospital dramas out there. But Comedy Central has been running the first few season and I've gotten hooked. I would be watching season 3 disc 1 right now, but the Netflix disc was cracked when it arrived yesterday. Grrr....