February 22nd, 2004

long beard


Okay, it's time to appease revevastars as well as my inner feelings of guilt and present another update. This entry was originally going to concentrate on my third outing with Katie, but I'll leave that for next week except to say that it went extremely well. In the meantime, let's talk about snow.

Well, actually, there isn't much to tell that won't be "old hat" to my local lost acquaintances, so to speak. Simply put, we got about 95cm (about a whole yard) of snow in a day, and since there were high winds, it formed monumental snow drifts. It was what I would consider a one-in-twenty year snowstorm event, but a one-in-one-hundred year snowfall event. People around here are calling it White Juan, as it follows the first hurricane to make landfall in Nova Scotia in recent memory by only five months. Between that and the cold snap that brought -25°C (-4°F) daytime highs to our province for a week in... was it January? Anyway, I'd like any pagan people out there to tell the Weather Gods that we've had enough!

The province is still in a State of Emergency, even though this is Saturday night and the storm itself began on Thursday. The storm of course is long over, but there is this not-so-small matter of clearing the roads that has to be attended to. A lot of secondary streets still haven't been plowed. This wasn't a problem for us - we got plowed out the next day! It's just unfortunate that we lost our power at 2pm on Thursday.

My mother had a heck of a time keeping the fireplace going - good thing we had lots of wood left over from all the trees Juan knocked down (and, if it wasn't for the 9 days without power after Juan, we wouldn't have coped with this incident nearly as well) - but fireplaces these days are just vanity items and ours is no exception. The temperature in our house dropped to about 13°C (55°F), which I suppose is okay for surviving but not very good for studying or anything else but sleeping.

So, what to do without electricity? Oh, there was certainly the driveway to contend with, but given the sheer amount of snow it made the most sense just to dig a double swath to the top of the hill and wait for Paul's cousin David (who owns a trucking company and numerous handy gadgets such as...) to come through with the backhoe. (Our driveway is about a quarter of a mile long, so we only shovel the paved portion by our house.) The idea was to do this so Paul could get out in the wheelchair.

Besides studying I didn't have much to do for recreation. I tried to catch some hockey or basketball games or whatever I could get from New York or Boston AM stations on my Walkman (which provided me with important Red Sox playoff games in the nights after Juan), but trying to catch snippets of a game occasionally interrupted by arrogant oldies / gospel stations on the same frequency proved to be too frustrating. And then I remembered...

I own a GameBoy Color!

It's one of those things you tend to forget about, just from lack of use. Games on TV provide a much more pleasant experience, not only from improved graphics and sound, but also the control method. For instance, you might think that Metroid Fusion is tricky on GameBoy Advance compared to Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo (this is a good comparison, because both games are of about the same complexity and graphics - on that note, I hate to see the GBA becoming a portable Super Nintendo because handhelds need games made for handhelds... if you think you can wrap Super Mario Bros. backwards and forwards, try playing Super Mario Bros. Deluxe on GameBoy Color - you'll soon curse not only the control but also the fact that you can't see the entire screen at once and have to use select and up to scroll your inset view of it.), you'll probably change your tune as soon as you plug Fusion into a GameBoy Player and run it through your GCN. (Not that I own a GBA or GCN - I'm poor and frugal, remember?)

So to get to the point, my PlayStation, N64, and even the old Super Nintendo get a lot more use than my raspberry GameBoy Color. But back when I was still interested in it I acquired a number of games, including Final Fantasy Legend, Final Fantasy Legend II, Final Fantasy Legend III (these are not Final Fantasy games per se - they're only published by SquareEnix), Pokémon Blue Version, Mario Golf (kick ass! alas, I lent it and Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest to my cousin, and I think he sold them for drug money), Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, and, finally, Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX.

Link's Awakening is a beautiful game and I had forgotten how much fun it was. It's also clearly designed for a handheld, with simple, elegant graphics that are visible on the small screen yet still harken back to the Super Nintendo predecessor (which I also own; doesn't everyone? I'm 000 there, but on Awakening I am closer to 050 and I'm just on Level 5!). It's got great items and facinating puzzles. And, I'm going to go back and play it right after I finish this entry, even though we have power again.

Yes, we got our power back... just before 7pm on Friday, to be precise. This suprised the heck out of me, but the power company did indeed go across the lake and fix the damage from the fallen tree after David backhoed out the road to it. This time, the hue and cry worked. Last time, Giles Drive (we live on Giles Drive but do not take power from its feeder line) was left without power for eight days even though all that needed to be done was restore the breaker on the main road.

Giles Drive didn't lose power this time, and last night I was keen on going out to Eric and Bernice's (Paul's parents, who live near the end of our driveway) so I could get some studying done after I wasted the daylight by sleeping between bouts of shovelling and hauling wood up the stairs for my mother. Getting out there turned out to be an epic trek. The snow was hip-deep in places, and after making the ten-minute journey that usually takes less than two, I had snow all down my boots and I realized why Eric and Bernice hadn't come out with warm food like they did after Juan since they had a generator. (Juan was also a better situation in some ways since it was in the Fall and therefore things weren't so cold; furthermore, if you wanted food, you could just get in the car and drive someplace to get some.)

I had been given the additional mission of getting hot water, so I trudged back with the "gas" can - though without the shovel and backpack, this trip was the longest and toughest of all and I realized that I should have phoned Mom and Paul and told them to call 911 if I didn't make the trip in thirty minutes - and walked down the driveway. Without thinking, I turned out my flashlight as I stepped onto the deck, then went inside with the water.

"Oh, that was rough going... I can see why Eric and Bernice didn't bring us food and why Brad didn't come back-"
"Didn't you notice?"
"We have our power back!"

And then all the flashing "12:00"s and lit ceiling lamps and lit outside motion sensor light finally registered. I can't say I was too pleased, though, because I knew I'd have to make two more Trips Through Hell to get my stuff and shovel back. But Eric and Bernice let me sit and relax for a few minutes before making the final return trip, so as LG says, life was good.

David came through with the backhoe before 6:00am, giving some brief purpose to my double-swath path to the top of the hill. This afternoon my mother used the 50% operational snowblower on that hill, which I then scraped / scooped down to bare pavement. But after the hill we just gave up, by which time Paul had phoned David and asked him to do the remainder of the paved driveway, which we usually do ourselves because otherwise the snow gets packed down and turns to ice. But the hill is traditionally the worst bit, and it's done, and even 20cm tomorrow (which is probably what we're going to get) will be a cakewalk compared to today's effort. Of course, let's hope David comes by after all that falls.
  • Current Music
    They Might Be Giants - John Henry

Level 5 / The Artifact

In my last entry I probably should have mentioned that my foray into Link's Awakening (or any GB/GBC game for that matter) would not have been possible without the help of nYko, who manufactured the inexpensive worm light that plugs right into the extension port for easy illumination without the need for extra batteries. It's something I picked up years ago on a whim, and I didn't like using it because of the minor obstruction and the way that you can see the light reflected off the screen a little, but now I prefer to use it in all situations except sitting with my back to a large window in the afternoon.

I just beat Level 5, which is analgous to Level 5 in Link to the Past in that it is large and difficult to navigate, but once you figure out the little trick the designers pulled on you, it all slips into place. Anyway, doing it on my own is much more fun than just going to the internet and getting the solutions. So now I finally have the Hookshot, what fun!

The only reason I'm near the computer this late (or early) is that I'm uploading the first CD of The Artifact to traked.org, the website of my director's younger brother who keeps a FreeBSD server in his basement. (!!) If any keeners are online now, you can grab the Artifact files directly at: ftp://ftp.traked.org/pub/willmatheson/films/artifact

The first volume (of two) should be finished uploading in about 120 minutes. I'll be asleep by then, so the second CD / volume will have to wait. (There's not quite enough disk space left on this machine to comfortably hold a whole CD, which I will soon remedy by moving some of my Kazaa'd stuff onto CD-R.) In the meantime, you can look at the featurette, which has already finished uploading and is only about 46 megabytes - plus it's really funny in an embarassing sort of way.

More information about The Artifact:

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    thoughtful thoughtful