Thursday, January 10, 2008

General Geekery

Interface Matters...Geek Style*Warning...this Friday post isn't about user interface design, Lotus Notes, Lotusphere or any of that stuff. Nope. There's more of that to come, but for now this post is just about being a geek. If you don't care or don't want to know more, stop reading now. You've been warned! :-)

It seems to me that now more than ever it is the golden age of geeks. Everywhere you look, so called "normals" are getting into technology, especially the latest gadgets and gizmos, home theater gear and video games. Heck...they're even going to superhero films. I never thought I'd see the day. While waiting to take a horse-drawn carriage ride over the Christmas break, I saw a very attractive girl wearing a shirt that exclaimed..."Geeks are hot". That's when I knew we made it.

It really is cool to be a geek. There are so many flavors of geeks too. It's not just the stereotypical image of the computer guy. No...there are music geeks, video game geeks, cooking geeks. The list goes on and on. Since I happily acknowledge my geekdom and recognize that being a geek has been central to who I am and how I've been successful in life, I just wanted to take a few minutes and share some things I'm currently geeking out about. This post is more for future posterity than anything, but if you are interested, please keep reading. I'd especially love to hear about the geek things you love. Post it on your blog or in the comments.

Looking back, I know I've always been a geek. Besides the fact that I walk funny (this bouncing step thing that is brother does it too, even though his twin does not. Didn't make school easy), I've always been really fascinated by typical geek stuff. In my earliest memories, I was always reading comic books. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Spiderman...everything I could get my hands on. I was fortunate to have a grandfather who loved to spoil me, so I always had a great supply from the local convenience store. I used to spend a lot of weekends staying at my grandparents and I most looked forward to the Friday night ritual of eating Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips and then watching Star Trek reruns and Space: 1999! Star Wars came out when I was seven and boy was that a life defining moment for a kid of that age. From that point on, I was a major Star Wars geek and at one time had collected every one of the Topps Star Wars trading cards. I still love Star Wars and comic books to this day, although at $3.00 a pop, the comic collecting thing is on hold indefinitely!

In junior high and high school, I certainly became something of a music and hi-fi geek. I can name where and when I bought most of the CD/albums in my collection. They were that important to me. I loved gathering as much data on each band as I could and tracking down hard to find items, a task that wasn't easy in the pre-internet days. I also geek out going to live shows and to date have logged over 16,000 miles traveling to shows, the longest being a trip to Gothenburg to watch one of my favorite bands, Evergrey, perform for their first DVD.

I was also a gamer geek. Although I loved video games, role-playing, war gaming and board games were the ones I enjoyed best. In high school, we had a regular AD&D group. I liked the DMing aspect of the game. Something about all the tables, charts and facts to keep track of, coupled with the story-telling aspect, was right up my alley. Magic: The Gathering came out when I was in college, so I really didn't have much time to get into that game. I have played a bit though, and I really enjoyed it. incessant babbling gets me this far and I still haven't talked about the few things I started this post about! If you haven't unsubscribed from my blog yet, then feel free to keep reading. :-)

The whole thing that inspired this geek introspection in the first place is my new license plate. I purchased a new car recently and decided to go for some vanity plates. I went through many iterations, cleverly trying variations on some Lotus products (Quickr would have been cool, actually), names of bands I like, Star Wars and sci-fi themes, etc. In the end, I couldn't find one particular plate that I really loved.

As I was sitting there one night reading some blog feeds, it hit me. I'm a geek and a dad and those are really the two major things that define me. And, really...if you're going to have vanity plates, they might as well speak to who you are. Thus, a shiny new Geekdad plate now adorns my car! Of course, since I'm a geekdad, it had to be somewhat leet-ish :-)

Geekdad License Plate

Another thing that brought back some good geek memories are the various games the kids got for Christmas. Sure they received some cool video games for the Wii, but in my opinion the best thing we opened was a game called Heroscape.

Heroscape: The Battle For All Time is a miniature wargaming system manufactured by Hasbro. As I said, I always loved wargaming, but I never really gave Heroscape much of a look in the store since I figured such a game for the mass market would be watered down and boring. Boy was I wrong. This is a really great game! First of all, the build quality of the figures is pretty fantastic. Although they are plastic and not metal, the detail is excellent and they are fully painted. One of the unique features of the game is the set of tiles that make up the gaming battlefield. These hex tiles are made of plastic and slide together and stack on one another to create a 3-D battlemap. Just opening up the box was an impressive experience and my son and I had a lot of fun looking at the various figures included in the box. But the real test of a great game is whether the rules actually provide for a fun, immersive experience. This is where Heroscape really impressed me. The game has both Basic and Advanced rules. The Basic rules are really simple, taking up only 2 pages or so. The game is advertised for ages 8 and up, but I think kids even younger could grasp the general mechanics. We jumped right to the Advanced rules and started playing. It took only about 15 minutes to setup the first scenario and start a game. Although we had to refer back to the rules a few times, the beauty of the Heroscape system is that the Advanced rules are easy to learn but provide for many cool options such as flying, ranged weapons, etc. The game designers really hit a home run, because with the out of the box rules, you have all the fun of other wargames without getting mired down in complex details. They are also so well crafted that I can see creative house rules being added without disrupting the spirit of the game. The only unfortunate part of getting Heroscape is that I actually have a job and bills and all that boring real life stuff, so we didn't get to play nearly as much as we would have liked. Oh yeah...I almost forgot one of the other cool aspects of Heroscape. Unlike many other miniatures games, the "booster" figures aren't limited or scarce in any way, so the game is much more affordable. Plus, you don't really need to buy any additions, as you get plenty of figures and land in the basic set. Bottom line: Cool game, two thumbs up!

Heroscape Rocks

Finally, a geek plan a couple years in the making is finally coming to fruition. I have a small home theater in my basement and I occasionally host movie marathons for some of my friends. We get together and watch a series of movies, have some food and just enjoy hanging out together. After the final Lord of the Rings movie came out on DVD, I knew it was time for a LoTR marathon. The problem with this, if you are familiar with the movies, is that they clock in at over 12 hours total if you watch the extended editions. Yikes! This is obviously not a marathon for the weak willed, and I knew we had to make it special beyond just watching the movies. Thus, I decided on actually serving all of the Hobbit meals during the marathon. We'll start at 8 AM with First Breakfast, and throughout the day have Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner and Supper. We haven't finalized the menu yet, but it will be simple stuff like eggs, stew, etc. I'm sure some ale will be involved as well. ;-) When all is said and done, we should finish right around midnight!

I've had to put this off last year and the year before due to the fact that there's always too much going on, but this year I am going to really try and make it happen. My birthday is in the beginning of February, so I'm shooting for that first weekend. If we make it out alive, I'll make sure to post the highlights here. How about you guys...anyone done all three Special Editions in one sitting?

Here's the invitation I sent out. There's still some seats available if you want to come to Cleveland...we'd love to have you. It's lovely here in February - really.

Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon

Yep...Looking back and looking forward, I think it's a great time to be a geek.


Chairboy said...

I can certainly claim to having done them, not in one sitting, I did have to nip out for supplies after the Two Towers, but all 3 special editions in one 12 hr period. This was in fact only last Wednesday, all I can say is that it's a great thing to do and very geeky!!!

Kevin Pettitt said...

Wow, that's hard-core man :-). You've got me licked on most counts, but I'm right there with you on the Star Wars cards. I have an almost complete set from the original, a complete set from Empire, but only a fraction of Jedi. I went a little crazy again for Ep. 1 but SWMBO reeled me in before I could do too much damage. I figure I'll just get the full set on ebay one day so I'm content for now.

btw, thx ;-)

Nathan T. Freeman said...

Dude... you did NOT put a drop shadow on your text!!!!!


And yeah... geeks rule.

Stephanie said...

I just found your blog through a search...

I did the whole LOTR marathon with hobbit meals last year (February is the perfect time!) and just wrote up the details in my blog. Thought you might want to see!