Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lead Change

Despite growing up in a fairly rural midwestern state, my life has mostly been that of a typical city dweller. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been to a farm, the only tractor I know how to drive is a John Deere Lawn and Garden model, and the closest I have ever come to harvesting anything was when my mom gave us kids a penny each for all the weeds we could pull from the yard. I had a great childhood, mind you, it's just that here in small-town Oklahoma I am getting to experience a lot of things that are pretty new to me.

Yesterday, for example, we went to our first ever horse show. I have seen horses a time or two, and went riding for a few hours last year with my wife, but have never experienced anything like an actual equine competition. We figured it would be something cool to try out, so we drove down to the giant indoor arena (around here they just call it "the barn") on the edge of town, walked in, and watched the horse competition for a few hours. We didn't know a whole lot about what was going on, but the three events we saw were called "Horsemanship," "Reining," and "Fence Jumping." It wasn't action-packed like a football or basketball game, but I can appreciate the skill it takes for the riders to control their horses as they ride around the arena performing various moves and patterns. The fence jumping was probably the coolest part, but we enjoyed the whole event and hope to go to more of them especially now that we know a little more about what they actually are.

After the horse show we also spent an hour or so out in the back yard pruning some of our crepe myrtle bushes. Yard work is actually one of my favorite parts about owning a house, and I actually tend to enjoy time spent mowing, cleaning, weeding, trimming, pruning, or any of the other physical-labor aspects of maintaining our little plot of land. I'm not sure if we pruned the bushes exactly how they are *supposed* to be done, but we had fun doing it and will probably have healthier foliage as a result. And if not? Well, we learned something new and will hopefully do it better next time. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Progressively Dining

Since getting an Xbox 360 a few months ago, our movie/tv/netflix habits haven't necessarily changed, but they have been enhanced to a surprising degree. And running the 360 to our new TV has made a good thing even better. Case in point: Netflix streaming has always been nice, but every time we wanted to watch something we had to plug my laptop into the TV by way of an adapter and two cords. No remote also meant every time we wanted to pause, rewind, or start something new meant a short trip from couch to laptop. Now, this is not a complaint: I grew up with no VCR until I was about nine years old, and fully realize that the modern conveniences we have, like the ability to watch movies instantly through Netflix, Hulu, and the like, wasn't even fathomable as recently as ten years ago. So when I say that I have to walk all the way from our couch to my laptop (a laptop! Ten years ago laptops could barely run video games, much less instantly stream movies from the internet) it's not a complaint. It's an observation, and nothing more. The point is that watching DVDs, Netflix streaming, and playing video games required a series of cords, cables, and button presses on Radio Shack switchboards in the days before our Xbox 360.

Now all that is possible through the game console, and in every case, improved by leaps and bounds. Netflix is amazing on the 360--we can sit back on the couch and with a flick of the remote, peruse our Queue and stream HD movies right to the TV. Video games on the 360 are awesome, and DVDs look better than ever thanks to the 360's upscaling capabilities. In short, Microsoft's little console has been a great addition to our living room...

...until it died last week. After humming along great for three months, the 360 stopped recognizing discs and I had to send it in for repairs. :( From the online repair tracking page it looks like things are going well and we might have it back in as little as a week or two from now, but in the meantime we're left back in the dark ages of regular old DVD players and playing video games on the Wii instead of the 1080p goodness of the 360. It's a perspective lesson, really, and in some ways I'm glad the 360 died. My evenings have been spent reading a book my wife got me for Valentine's day, working on Walking Taco and its new subsidiary Walking Taco Box Office, writing for my brother's video game web site Inside The Console, and tinkering on projects around the house. I'm sure we will enjoy having the 360 back, but in the meantime it's been kind of nice to put the brakes on things for a little while. :)

In a completely unrelated matter, last night we went to what I guess is called a "Progressive Dinner" through our church. Around 25 people met at the house of one of our congregation members for appetizers, and then we broke up into three smaller groups for the main course at three different host houses. After that we all met for dessert at the house of another congregation member on the north side of town. Even though we signed up a little late for the event, they made room for us and there was plenty of food at all the stops throughout the evening. We had a great time meeting new people, getting to know others better, and just hanging out with church people in a non-church setting. Not that going to Lenten dinners and post-worship meetings are bad (far from it, in fact), but it's nice to get to know people in a different environment too.

The dinner was also a nice way to get away from the rain, which has been coming down steadily for a few days now. And I gotta say, even though it's kind of dreary out, I kind of like it. Rainy days like today are a good excuse to say inside, bask in the glow of a good fire in the fireplace, and catch up on some blogging. :)