The Halls Head West – Part One

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Had a good visit with my parents last week. Hadn’t seen them in two years! Was nice to visit them in Southern California, enjoy the weather, and tour some of the local sites.

Our plane flight, out of Gregg County, was a bit bumpy. Our pilot had to dodge thunderstorms while flying into Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).

View outside the plane as we took off from Longview, Texas.

Nothing like a little turbulence as we flew around thunderstorms.

We eventually landed at DFW and made our way to our second flight. The flight boarded but we had to sit in the plane as a second wave of thunderstorms made its way into the area. Tab and I caught up on much needed sleep (we were so excited that we hadn’t slept the night before).

Fun Fact: When lightening hits near the airport, a clock starts a countdown to an all clear (so much time has to go by). Apparently airport workers cannot work out on the tarmac when lightening has struck nearby. Safety first!

Landed in San Diego without incident. Loved flying on what appeared to be a new Airbus! Tab and I watched Netflix’s The Highwaymen, with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, on the flight. Super good movie about two former Texas Rangers hunting down Bonnie and Clyde. We had about 30 minutes till the end of the movie when our plane landed. Can’t wait to finish this film.

My parents picked us up in San Diego. The weather was cool, cloudy, and drizzling. Such a relief from the 80 degree humid weather we’ve been having in East Texas.

We made our way over to Old Town San Diego, ate lunch, and toured around.

I can’t imagine traveling in a wagon like this. Talk about back issues!

While there, we walked into Seeley Stables (which was pretty amazing and free). Came across some old gaming machines… something that one rarely sees in a museum. I was impressed.

THE JUDGE!

THE OWL!

Rolling history.

After a bit of walking around, we braved the traffic and headed to my parents house.

The next day, we woke up and headed to Anaheim. Spent the day at Disneyland. Wyatt loved it (his first trip) and we all walked quite a bit.

I do not have a ton of pictures from Disneyland. We spent the day being in the moment and absorbing the magic of Walt’s original park.

Highlight of our day was Wyatt getting to meet Darth Vader. Wyatt tried to pledge allegiance to him… and Lord Vader seemed pleased. He told Wyatt that when he was of age that Wyatt would make a great recruit for the Imperial Army. I’m taking this as a parenting win!

Click here for Part Two

I’m In Love – Star Wars: Episode IX Teaser Trailer

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I can’t wait to see how this wraps up Rey’s story. After The Last Jedi, the table has been swept clean story-wise. Hoping JJ Abrams uses some of his magic like he did in The Force Awakens.

Roughhousing

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One of my earliest memories of my Grandpa Ayers is of him and I roughhousing. Long before I was old enough to know what Star Wars was, he would tell me that he was Darth Vader and that I was Luke Skywalker. We’d sword fight with yard sticks, up and down the hall in their house, until my Grandma Ayers would tell us to knock it off. I miss those days.

Was listening to The Art of Manliness Podcast today– I have been slowly moving through their backlog–. Today’s episode was on The Art of Roughhousing. I want to encourage you to check it out. The benefits of roughhousing with your kids is huge! Even if you have girls. You can find the show here.

The Old Republic

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Yesterday, the State of Texas celebrated it’s 174th birthday. Happy birthday Texas!

Speaking of other old republics, I started downloading Star Wars: The Old Republic last night. As of this moment, my download is almost done! My plans are to create a Han Solo type character–hey, I’ve always called myself a scoundrel!–. I am really looking forward to playing the game and comparing it to my other BioWare experience, Mass Effect 2.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. The high today, here in East Texas, is 62 degrees. A nice change from the 80 degree weather we have oddly experienced this past week. Until next time.

The Star Wars of Video Games

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Out of the now six Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back remains my most favorite. I love the epic battle of Hoth, main characters parting ways, and the overall darker tone of the film. Life, in the shadow of the Empire, is harsh and cruel for those serving the Rebellion–as it should be!–. The events in this middle film leave you wondering how much worse things can get for Luke Skywalker and his ragtag group.

Lately, I’ve been playing through Mass Effect 2. Like The Empire Strikes Back, Mass Effect 2 is the middle chapter in an epic space trilogy. Currently I’ve played the game for over 18 hours. So far, Mass Effect 2 has largely been about constructing the perfect A-Team. The typical structure of the game has been: 1) Hunt down new team member, 2) Recruit them and take them back to the Normandy, 3) Eventually work through a “personal” mission to gain their loyalty. Wash, rinse, repeat. Yet, somehow, I have been pulled into this world filled with Krogans, Reapers, and a man named Shepherd.

What made The Empire Strikes Back so phenomenal, was that it took characters you had grown emotionally attached to in Star Wars and then took them to the breaking point. In doing so, a deeper emotional attachment occurred, one that would eventually  allow you to be able to sit through The Return of the Jedi. Mass Effect 2, while seemingly built on emotion, often feels false and empty. I can’t quite put my finger on it but something is off. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed my time playing the game. I just think that my disconnect with the characters may have something to do with only playing about 5 hours of the first game before quitting.

The Normandy SR2

I keep waiting for that Empire moment in Mass Effect 2; I keep waiting for that moment when I am more emotionally bonded with the characters, like in a good book. As it stands, if the Normandy blew up again, with the entire crew inside, I don’t think I’d care. I’d slowly put down the controller and wonder why I had wasted so much time.

Connections

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In the hustle and bustle that has become everyday life, I am beginning to wonder how I ever found time to play such games as World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online. I think that when I was playing them, I was using them as a social means to hang out with friends from back in California. With the time difference proving to be too big of a drawback–I’m usually in bed by the time my friends get around to being able to game–, my friends and I all slowly walked away from MMO’s.

While part of me misses the thrills of leveling and exploring the various game worlds, I more so miss being able to hang out with friends in another state. Slaughtering the digital denizens, while shooting the breeze, created good memories for me. As a guy, doing something with other guys is just priceless, even if it is just playing a game online.

I don’t know if it is this way with every gamer, but I have a core group of friends that I have gamed with since high school. Since moving to Texas, I have kept in touch with them by phone, email, and occasional visits. I ultimately don’t want our connection to be lost due to distance. Though we may have walked away from MMO’s for the moment–Bioware’s Star Wars MMO is on the horizon–, we are all still good friends. I am thankful for friendships that evolve and change with time… and distance.