The Testing, MCE update, and Video Games

I was reading through one of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy websites, tor.com, recently and I came across a short story prequel to an upcoming novel called The Testing. It was called The Testing Guide and it can be found at the hyperlink provided. It is a post apocalyptic world where Humans are trying to make their way back after we basically destroyed the entire planet in a giant horrible war, very Hunger Games esque. I really liked the short story so when they released an excerpt from The Testing itself, I ate that up as well and decided I had to pick up this book at some point. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games and this seemed similar but not so alike that it would be lame. I forgot about it for a while and then when my wife and I were perusing Barnes and Noble after chowing down on some delicious Mexican food nearby, there it was in the sci-fi/fantasy section. I picked it up and devoured it as well, much like the first Hunger Games book, I found that I couldn’t really put it down and wanted to find out what happens next.  It isn’t a very long book and I won’t bore you with the plot details because you can just hit up the provided links and find out for yourself if it is something you might want to read.  I really enjoyed it, like I said before it was different enough from Hunger Games to keep my interested and if you liked the Hunger Games you will like this book as well. I look forward to more books in the series. Now onto other update!

I am on the 5th patient in Michael Crichton’s non-fiction 5 Patients, it isn’t a very long book but I haven’t been able to get into it, it is very technical and often very dry to read. It is interesting from the perspective of the current health care debate that is crippling our government at the moment, and as usual Crichton has seen what is current happening now way back in the 1970’s. I seriously think he might have been a little clairvoyant.  Another reason that I have been slacking on my MCE is that my 2nd to last semester started at University of Alaska Fairbanks. I decided, like a boss, to save all my math for the last year so I am currently getting my ass kicked nightly by Pre-Calculus and Accounting. It has been tough but I am started to get in the swing of things and I kind of amaze myself with how much I actually remember as far as math, it has been over a decade since I took a college math class and almost 14 years since I took it in high school, but I will definitely be passing these classes and I am starting to enjoy them in some sick and demented way.

Another excuse for not advancing the MCE is that I have been buying and playing a lot of video games lately! I just picked up WInd Waker HD for the Wii U last night and started it this morning, I never got into it on the gamecube and I look forward to finishing it on the Wii U, so far it is freaking awesome only about an hour in.  I also picked up GTA V and Diablo III for PS3 and I am enjoying the hell out of them as well. I plan on finishing 5 patients soon and getting a blog up for it and after I finish each of the video games I listed I will blog about those as well. I have also been listening to Game of Thrones on my treks to and from work, I will have to dedicate some time and blogging to that in the near future, I really enjoy the show and books so far. Now time to go do some accounting HW, oh joy…

Skyward Sword

Since I picked up the newest console gaming system the Wii U last winter I have made a commitment to playing more console games. The first game on my long list of console games I want to play through was The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I haven’t had much luck completing console games for quite a while. Pretty much ever since I started playing MMO’s and World of Warcraft in particular I have just not been able to get into the flow of playing a console game and being invested enough to play all the way through. MMO’s don’t really have and ending you can pretty much play them forever and there an almost endless list of things you can do every time that you log into them. I have over 100 days played on just one character in World of Warcraft, and yes that is 24 hour days. That is one of the main reasons I stopped playing them, they take up a bunch of time and there are other things I want to do besides immediately get home and sit down on my PC, after I have been on my PC all day at work. I would also ignore my wife, dogs, and whatever other plans I may have had such as watching a certain TV program, going for a run, or sitting down and doing some reading or homework. So far I am enjoying focusing on the Wii U and spending more time not sitting in front of my PC for the majority of the day. So onto my review of Skyward Sword

I bought this game as soon as it was released, just as I have with pretty much every single Zelda game in the series, and dabbled with it a bit but didn’t get into it the first time I tried to play it. I have always been a huge Legend of Zelda fan, I have played and finished almost every single one of them, save some of them that came out on Nintendo’s portable devices. Some of my earliest gaming memories are of playing the original Legend of Zelda on the original Nintendo. I still remember the triumphant feeling I had after defeating the evil Ganon, saving the princess, and getting my hands on the Triforce. This obsession with Zelda has continued all throughout my life, in high school I wore my Zelda shirt, that I got for pre-ordering Ocarina of Time, so much that it had to be thrown away shortly after the game was released. I remember just sitting in class being bored and doodling the Triforce and Zelda logo and day dreaming about playing the game. Ocarina of time did not disappoint and I still consider it my favorite of the series. The old top down Super Nintendo Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was my 2nd favorite until I finally sat down and played Skyward Sword all the way through.

Skyward Sword took me a little over 60 hours to complete and it was a great experience pretty much the whole time. There was some tedious parts, like most every single game ever made have, but Skyward Sword is honestly one of the most fun games I have ever played and I am inching ever closer to 3 decades of gaming experience. The dungeons are exciting and only one of them is super long, the puzzles are challenging but not impossible (though one involving the sky temple was completely ridiculous), and the gameplay and story are superb. Some of my favorite moments and experiences in the game were flying, time-shift stones, the pirate ship dungeon, dragons, claw shot, finding all the goddess cubes, most the boss fights, the beetle, and the mini-games. Some of the more tedious aspects were having to use the Wii mote to perform specific swipes of the sword, the gratitude crystal quests, collecting the notes for the dragon song in the forest, and going into the spirit realm and not being able to be touched or you have to start over. If you haven’t played Skyward Sword yet and you are a fan of the Zelda series then I would recommend that you take the time and give it a play through. You will not be disappointed, it is a Zelda game through and through and one of the best in the series.

At some point I plan to play through all of the Zelda games, in the order they were released, and blog the experience similar to what I am doing with Michael Crichton right now. I look forward to that experience but until then I will be reading my copy of Hyrule Historia that my wife got me for V-day and learning more about the Zelda franchise. If you get a chance I also recommend picking up Hyrule Historia, I have just started to read it but so far I am impressed with the quality and content of the book. One of the more interesting things I have learned so far is that Skyward Sword is considered the first Zelda story in the timeline and all other Zelda games that have been released come after. It made me pay more attention to the story as I was playing and there was about 20 minutes of cut scenes after you defeat the final boss that help establish Skyward Sword’s place in the Legend of Zelda history. Pay special attention to the final bosses speech after you defeat him. That’s all I have for now, remember to Keep Calm and Game On!

Almost February?!?!?

I can’t believe it is almost February already, oh how the time does fly when were having fun.  It has been pretty hectic around the cook household lately, with the puppy and the 3 other mongrels all vying for attention.  Puppy is learning A LOT, Ellie has taught her sit, down, stand, touch, spin, twirl, and started working on some agility training.  She is very smart and turns 9 weeks old today.  Moss is the greatest babysitter ever he is patient and plays with her and lets her bite his lips! ow!!  Scully and Cedar are still under the hope that she will disappear so they choose to ignore her.  Scully is the worst but seems to be showing signs of coming around, Cedar is her normal self but is doing much better than I thought she would.  Here is a video that Ellie made with our new Camcorder (which I plan to use some this weekend) of Ember and her new tricks.

In other happenings, I have started my second semester at University of Alaska Fairbanks, working towards turning my Associates in Disaster Preparedness into a Bachelor’s of Emergency Management.  This semester I am taking Economics and Marketing, so far I think I will really enjoy both of these classes and they both seem very interesting and useful.  Lots of homework to do but I finished my econ HW early this week and just have Marketing to deal with this weekend.

In TOR related news our new PC came and I got it all setup after 2 days and the sound finally working after 3, oh the joys of buying a PC i had to put together myself.  It was actually kind of fun, though frustrating at times, to build it myself since I have never done that before, and it saved me several hundred dollars.  Ellie has started playing TOR with me and seems to be really enjoying her Trooper she started, I have been playing mine along side her and am also really enjoying it, I will be making Havana a healer and Ellie will be doing DPS on Heleyna.  Landen is getting quite geared out in PvP gear, he is up to 10 purples and I have almost 400 expertise and am starting to own more in Warzones.  Though the Empire still greatly outnumbers us on the server and they seem to have better gear I really like PvP still, I cant wait until we have more 50’s and can do some PvE though, we are slowly yet surely making progress on that and I hope in a couple of months we will have enough to run Operations.

In other news, my buddy Keith finally set the date to get married and has the location and everything picked out.  I will be the best man!  I am excited yet nervous because I am going to have to give a speech, but since I know both Keith and Julie I figure it won’t be too hard, and I will make Ellie help me.  They are getting married in Coeur d’Alene, the town we all met 10 years ago, and the location of the ceremony is a house on the lake, and the reception will be on top of a building over looking the lake.  It will be a blast and I already got it approved to take work off for those days!  I am in charge of doin the bachelor party and I am trying to get Sunriver but if that doesnt work I may have to just do something in Vegas or Boise, we shall see.

I have a busy weekend left house cleaning, reading, writing, TOR, videoing, and HW.  Now time for some Hubbys!!