March 29, 2007
it's all in the hips

As Brie mentioned in her post we spent Sunday at my Dad's planting the spring vegetable garden. Well, after we left my Dad's I rightfully felt a little sore. I had been squatting up and down for over two hours first planting, then helping to fix the irrigation system and my lawnmower. To top it off when we got home I mowed the front lawn. I wasn't expecting what would happen next.

When I woke up Monday morning I could barely move my legs. I was in even more pain then when I drove across the country back in 2005 and had to be put on muscle relaxers and anti-inflamatories. The pain was intense and located in my thighs or so I thought. As I began to slowly feel better over the course of the week I began to realize the pain wasn't just muscle strain as I had thought. I am having serious issues bending at the hips. This concerns me. For the last 5 years I have had steadily increasing issues with my hips, in particular my right hip. I've been afraid to go to the Doctor because I'm not sure what he will say, I certainly don't want to be told that eventually I'll have to have my hips replaced, that thought frieghtens me to no end, I've never had surgery in a hospital before.

So for now I've been taking hot baths and the occasional anti-infammatory, but if I'm not better by tomorrow afternoon I'll just have to bite the bullet and go see the Doc, at least I'll get some muscle relaxers.

Posted by John at 11:49 PM
Part Three: I'm an O.G.

For me the ultimate MMO experience has not been created. It lies somewhere in between WoW and CoX. I have a list of things I'd do if I was put in a position to develop my own game.

I want a game that uses the latest graphic technology AND has it's own style. I want the world to feel real. Even though CoX has much more advanced graphics and physics engine it lacks style. The world of COX is meant to be modern day metropolis but the buildings are all basic boxes for the most part with simple textures. It gives the game world a cold, sterile, and unimaginitive look. The one zone that does truly feel inspired is actualy another dimension of floating asteroids and alien creatures, but the zone is horrific to explore unless you can Fly and the missions that take place are among the games worst. WoW though the graphics are less advanced looks gorgeous and alive do to great art design. I think one of the most overlooked aspects in CoX is what is refered to as "Quality of Life" issues. Making a game world believable is all in the details. But Cryptic made some extremely poor decisions in that area. The biggest to me is the fact that the water has no depth. For 2 games in which water is such a large part of the outdoor enviroments (CoV takes place in a series of islands!) the fact that you can stand out in the middle of the ocean and the water is 3 feet deep is a huge mistake. Also the constant need to "zone" (the game stops and loads a new zone taking 10-30 seconds) is another one of those constant reminders that this is nothing but a game. WoW streams the entire world and there are only 2 times it stops to load, if you are switching continents or if you are going into an instance dungeon. You can completely lose track of yourself in WoW because you can wander around for hours just exploring new areas and looking for new flight paths. In CoX you go across a 1 mile area to get to the next and you have to stop and load the next zone. It's a constant reminder that this is a game.

It's all about interaction. In CoX the max size of a team is 8 people. But you can do any mission in the game with 8 people and it only makes the mission more rewarding. It's this feature that makes the fact that every mission takes place on a instance worth the annoyance of loading. In WoW the max team size for the core of the game is 5 people and the quests all based on "go kill x number of these creatures" or "go get me this item from this creature" takes place in the open world enviroment. It's very repetitive and it's not team friendly. The number of creatures is not going to expand to allow for the fact that you have 5 people and the rewards you get do not increase to allow everyone on the team to get them. So you end up doing more work for the hope of getting the item you need.

Make the fights more dynamic. Even the simplest missions in CoX can have an epic feel when you have an 8 person team all synergized and working together. In CoX you can control the difficulty of the missions and with a good team you will find yourself taking on critters 2 or 3 levels higher than you. This makes the game much more challenging and fastpaced as you must work together and have a good balance of archetypes to succeed. In WoW the only way to enjoy this kind of battle is to participate in one of the huge raids and those take hours to complete. Even those tend to be very slow and methodical, you can't just charge in and start attacking. It all has to be thought out and one error and your team is wiped out. This makes the game pace slow and lacking in dynamics.

Allow the player to personalize their chartacter as much as possible. Let's face it the main reason for CoX success is the one of a kind character creation tool. You get thousands of customizable options to create your look and none of the choices effect gameplay. You can (and do) spend hours creating characters. It's beyond anything any game offers, even the Sims. In WoW you only have a few basic opitions and then what you look like is controled by what types of clothing you find in-game, purchase, and can actually wear. You want to be a Tauren (cow person) that wears gold armor and has flames coming from your head, too bad. You can't wear armor unless you are an archetype that is allowed to. You want that +5 resistance to Cold Damage and to have all your clothes be Pink, too bad you have to look the way the developers chose to make items with cold resistance. I was often wearing clothes I thought were ugly and not what I wanted to look like simply because the stats on them were what I needed. And the ultimate faux pas the high-end Raid or PvP gear which becomes a necessity makes you look exactly like every other character who has earned it. It's an odd decision that the more powerful you become the more you look like everyone else.

Lastly, don't expand the game when you already have hundreds of bugs to fix. In my entire trip from level 1 to 60 in WoW I never experienced any bugs. The text for missions was always spelled correctly, the powersets never had specific powers that weren't working as intended (not to be confused with needing to be strengthened or nerfed), and most importantly disconnections and client crashes were extremely rare for the majority of players. In CoX this is not the case. There are mispelled words in mission text that go back to the launch of the game. There are powers that are simply broken. There are a high number of small issues that add up to make the game extremely bug ridden. There is also a blessing/curse factor with all the changes each "Issue" brings. It's a ripple effect that has become a painful joke to those of us who have been playing a long time. When a new Issue gets released it is inevitable that the game will be broken in often major ways. There has been problems with sound effects looping until the client crashes since Issue 4, lately characters that transform into other forms have been popping back into looking human even though they aren't at the time. Disconnections, lag, and memory leaks have become huge issues to all players. WoW didn't have any of these types of issues and for good reasons, first Blizzard was an established game company that knew what they were doing from the get go. CoH was Cryptics first game and it's clear they didn't have experience on their side. Secondly, Blizzard focused on making what WoW was better without trying to add new zones, content, powers, physics etc.. at the same time. Cryptic seems to feel the addition of a new powerset or a new zone should distract you from the fact that many other parts of the game still need to be fixed.

So here is what I want. A stable game, that looks good, is extremely stable, and contains both an immerssive world and dynamic battles. It should have great content for both the casual player with an hour to spare and massive battles that require many hours to complete. It should be fun to the single player, but even more fun to team up with many. You should be able to personalize your character the way you want and the Economy and in-game items should be there to enhance the game play while not requiring you to have focus on having to find or buy specific items to get the most out of the game. Oh and one more thing, either develop the game for PvP or PvE play, not both because those are concepts that are exclusive not inclusive.

Posted by John at 10:35 AM
March 28, 2007
Part Two: I'm an O.G.

On June 26, 2005 I made my first Hero; Infinite Zen on the Infinity server and a couple weeks later I joined the Dragon Legion supergroup. The "DL" has been my main supergroup ever since, I am one of the leaders now and good in-game friends with several of the other members, but none of it has turned into real life relationships. One of the best features of CoH is that the game has never stopped being developed. Every few months the game's developer, Cryptic Studio, will release an expansion pack aka "Issue" which typically add a new set of powers to use in creating a character, a new zone (city neighborhood) to explore and do missions in, or some new enhancement to the gameplay. In October 2006 Cryptic releases "City of Villains" the standalone counterpart to CoH, CoV has the same gameplay and mission structure, but has all new Archetypes (the way the game sets up the type of powers you use). The games have overlapping PvP zones and mesh together by using overlapping backstory and some overlapping enemy groups. CoX or Co* as we now refer to it fulfilled many of the elements I had always wanted in a game.

I was never interested in any other MMORPG until Cryptic released Issue 7. The primary addition in Issue 7 was the level 40-50 (50 is the game cap) content for Villains, most of which takes place in "Grandville" an island (aka Zone) that serves as the headquarters to Lord Recluse (in the game mythos he is the Archenemy of Statesman CoH's greatest Hero) The zone is so overblown, so difficult to Navigate unless you chose Fly as your travel power, and the missions so repetitive and filled with extremely difficult bosses to solo play that I got fed up and left the game.

Soon after Issue 7 was released one of the friends I had made in-game asked if I wanted to go with them and try "World of Warcraft" with a free 14 Day Trial. We first started as members of the Alliance. The game play in WoW though sharing many chararcteristics as CoX also has some significant differences. First of all there are a lot more powers you earn and there are a lot more resources you have to manage. WoW isn't just about killing creatures to get XP (experience points that add up to unlock stronger abilities) it's also about choosing professions and participating in the games Economy. CoX doesn't have an economy of any kind (though that is about to change with Issue 9). In CoX there is only one real driving force, complete missions to earn experience to get stronger powers. In WoW you have many more choices, you can spend hours in the game doing nothing more than wokring on becoming a better fisherman or leatherworker. You can become rich by farming resources other people need for their tradeskills or by being a buyer/seller of goods through the auction houses. Also the actual game enviroment of WoW is a much more complete "world". The bodies of water have depth, you can swim underwater and even drown. You can climb mountains, fall to your death from perilous peaks, and with the exception of raid dungeons all quests are completed out in the one game world you share with every other player on the server. In CoX most missions are completed on instance maps that are created and specifically tailored to you and/or your team size and level. WoW is a much more immersive game. But also has some severe drawbacks for the gamer with only small pockets of time to play.

First off, it's not until level 40 you even have the option of not running everywhere you need to go on foot. The exception being for big trips where you have to pay your in-game money to use a flying mount which travels on a prefixed path to your destination, IF you have already travelled there by foot and unlocked it as a destination. In CoX at level 14 you have your choice of a variety of Super Travel Powers; Fly, Superspeed, Super Jump, and Teleport. Which makes getting around the game quick and easy. At higher levels in WoW it was common for it to take 15-20 minutes for me to get from one end of a continent to the other as often required by a quest. That means that in some cases I would travel 20 minutes to get to a town so I could drop off an item then travel 20 minutes back to where I started to continue on my Quest. I simply don't have 40 minutes to waste travelling I typically only play for a couple hours in a row. Next, the game requires you to be involved with the economy, it cost lots of money to be able to buy a Mount at level 40 so that you can travel 40% faster and unless you find someone to give you money, buy illegal Gold from an online site (with real money mind you) or spend hours farming for rare items that will fetch big money in the auction house you will never actually have enough money to buy a mount at level 40, which means you waste even more time still travelling by foot. Third, with the exception of Raids which can take 4-8 hours and require 5 to 40 other players to complete the core quests of the game are not team friendly. Since the economy is so important and most of your earnings come from the trade goods or money found on the critters you kill, having to split things 5 ways is typically not the most advantageous way to do things. In CoX teams can be up to 8 people and it's actually in your best interest to put together a team and mission together. CoX was built around making the team experience it's core.

I played WoW for three months eventually getting a Horde Undead Priest to level 60, which was then the games cap. But once the excitement of getting my first character to 60 was done I started to really notice the repetitive nature of the gameplay. Certainly all MMOs suffer from the fact that the fighting system is based on Dungeons and Dragons style "Turn based" fighting. But in CoX the advance graphics, particle and ragdoll physics, and typical 8 man team size makes the combat feel much more dynamic and almost as if it was a realtime action game. I also missed the much more mature mentality in CoX, WoW is filled with too people whose only purpose for playing is to try and prove they are "l33t" and there is a definite unfriendliness towards new players primarily brought out by the over-importance of the in-game economy. In the end I started missing CoX more than I was enjoying playing WoW and so I went back.

Stay tuned for Part Three

Posted by John at 12:52 AM
Part One: I'm an O.G.

I am an OG .. Original Gamer .. I am from the first generation of children that had video games as an affordable entertainment option. My first video game device was Super Pong. I also had a couple handheld games like Coleco Head to Head Football and Electronic Quarterback. In the arcade I started with Space Invaders, but of all the games there were, three were always my favourites: Popeye, Tron, and Galaga. I never owned an Atari 2600 or a Colecovision, but many of my friends did so I played them quite a bit.

In the early 1980s I got a Commodore 64. Then in 1988 Brie and I got both a Tandy 1000 HD personal computer (it had a huge 10 Mb hard drive!) and an original Nintendo Entertainment System (aka NES), together they marked a significant change in what I would prefer as my home entertainment. On the PC my first game was Leisure Suit Larry 2 and I can remember getting so frustrated in playing it that I would have to call Sierra's Tips Hotline to figure out what to do next. I was not impressed by early PC gaming. Though the premises tended to be more adult oriented, the mechanics were harsh and often terribly unintuitive to someone who had a background in Arcade and console gaming with the easy to use joysticks, D-Pads, and other input devices. Why spend hours trying to figure out the right text to input in LSL2 when Super Mario Bros. was as easy as pushing buttons.

For the next 5 years I would be a console gamer until the release of Doom. Doom was a huge jump in gaming graphics and offered a true 3D world to inhabit. For me Doom was never about the "Twitch Factor", I was never interested in it's "first person shooter" gameplay, what I marveled at was the idea of this 3D world with secret passages and hidden power-ups. I typically played with the "God Mode" on because I wanted to explore, not kill everything in site.

With the birth of the web I got very interested in VRML Worlds and became a resident in Cybertown. I was involved enough to become a club owner and learned to create VRML Avatars. VRML worlds are the precursor to Second Life. They were social gathering spots were you could buy and furnish homes, make friends, have get togethers and explore the creations of others. When I first heard about Second Life I got very excited, but after several visits over the last year or so I find Second Life to be a joke. All you find there are people trying to make money and sell you stuff, there is no sense of community and no focus on creating places to explore just for fun. It seems to be a community based on greed, not my idea of entertainment.

What I wanted was a game that combined my love for online social interaction and easy to pick-up gameplay. That all came together when I discovered the MMORPG. Like most people I was first introduced to the MMORPG through news coverage of Everquest. Stories of "Evercrack" and how people were losing jobs, spouses and even their lives over this game that takes place in a virtual world where you were simultaneously playing a game for experience, more/better powers, and money you would use on better in-game items intrigued me. There was one thing that kept me away, the idea of pretending you were a knight or a lord or lady was completely unbearable to me. I have never liked "Fantasy" and I certainly was never a fan of Dungeons and Dragons.

I continued on playing video games mainly on consoles and handhelds, the N64 and Playstation brought 3D graphics to the mass market, no longer did you need a top-of-the-line PC in order to enjoy 3D Graphics. Then one day I heard about a game in development called "City of Heroes" it was going to be a MMORPG game for the PC based not in a "Fantasy" world but the world of Comic Book style heroes. I was definitely interested.

stay tuned for part 2 ....

Posted by John at 12:23 AM
March 26, 2007
brian wilson

I caught part of the 2006 UK Music Hall of Fame on VH1 the other day and wasn't thinking much of it until they inducted Brian Wilson and not the Beach Boys. With most acts they induct someone influenced (read: more popular with today's kids) by the inductee performs. But in the case of Brian he got up with his band and performed.

Now I've always had a soft spot for most Beach Boys singles. Like so much music from that era my parents were fond of playing it around the house so I grew up with them as part of my life's soundtrack. Even though I know as a musician I'm suppose to say how brilliant I think Brian Wilson is and how "Pet Sounds" is one of the Top 5 greatest albums ever I don't actually feel like that.

When I saw "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations" performed it was really jaw dropping, the intricasies of the arrangement are fully brought to light by a modern recording and even more so by being able to see what each band member was required to do to bring the song to life. I purchased "Pet Sounds" soon after from iTunes. For $12.99 you get both the mono and stereo versions of the album. Unfortunately even after being gobsmacked by Brian's performance I wasn't impressed by the actual album. First of all, I think to really get the brilliance of "Pet Sounds" as an album you may have to have a frame of reference as to it's place in the timeline of modern recorded music. I know it was influential to the Beatles while making Sgt. Pepper, but I wasn't around when it was groundbreaking so I have to compare to the albums that have come since and in that perspective I don't find it to be that great. When I put "Abbey Road" by the Beatles up against any other album I still find it to be the best album I've ever heard. "Pet Sounds" has a few amazing tracks; "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "Sloop John B", and "God Only Knows" However, as a whole I found it very bland as an album. To me many tracks are simply ok songs made more than they actually are by Brian's knack for great arrangements. "God Only Knows", however certainly has a place in my Top 10 all-time songs.

I also downloaded "Good Vibrations" as a single track from their latest Greatest Hits package. "Good Vibrations" is a favourite of mine as well, but I wonder about the version I got from iTunes. I can clearly here edit points in the song as if the song was partially assembled by splicing the multitrack tape. I'll need to do a bit more research to see if that is simply the way the original version sounds or if perhaps what I got is an edited version.

So at this moment my Top Ten songs are (and this will change soon)

God Only Knows - the Beach Boys
Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode
Is There Something I Should Know? - Duran Duran
Special - Garbage
Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Diana Ross
There You Go Again - Dolly Parton
You're My Best Friend - Queen
Look What You've Done to Me - Boz Scaggs
Perfect Drug - Nine Inch Nails
Call and Answer - Barenaked Ladies

Posted by John at 11:57 PM
March 20, 2007
me and my ipod

I really should be in bed, it's 11:30 pm and I have to get Keegan off to school tomorrow morning, but reading Brie's post made me feel like writing.

I got a 30Gb iPod Video as my "bonus" from our tax return this year. I had been going over and over whether to purchase one ever since my friend Cindi and I drove from her home in Oaklahoma to what was then our new home here in Tracy and she brought hers along. You would think that since we are a family with over a thousand CDs getting an iPod would be a no brainer, but it wasn't.

When the Sony PSP came out I was there at Midnight and bought the very first one at our local store. That decision has haunted me. The PSP turned out to be a waste. It's been about 2 years since it came out and they have yet to release more than a few good games and none of them are the "killer app" so needed to establish a new gaming device. In the end I use it as nothing more than a multimedia playback device and I spent way to much money on it to use it for that.

What finally made me decide the iPod was the right choice was two things. First, with Sebastian now being required to go to the Gym 3 days a week I knew I needed something more lightweight and portable to take with me than the PSP. Secondly, there finally seems to be enough new music coming out that I once again find myself listening to music all the time. There was a period of time where if I was in my car (the primary time I listen to music) I was most likely listening to NPR. The last 6 months has seen several new artists emerge that Brie and I really love, along with great new albums by artists we already enjoy. Mika, Stephy, Imogen Heap, plus the latest albums from Robbie Williams, Scissor Sisters, Goldfrapp, Barenaked Ladies, the Killers, Justin Timberlake, and Fergie all have songs in constant rotation around our house. Plus I've grown really fond of the ability to just download single tracks by bands that I would never get full albums from. There are songs Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, All-American Rejects, Bananarama, and Raconteurs that I really love, but I would never want a full album.

There was a side-effect of getting the iPod that I never imagined. It has made me really love music again. I don't make many playlists, instead what I love to do is just put my whole collection on Shuffle. I love going from Depeche Mode to Dean Martin to Prince to Nickel Creek to Black Eyed Peas. It has filled my head with all sorts of new ideas for my own music making, something I haven't been inspired to do for years.

My only regret? I get the feeling it's only going to be a year or maybe even less before I will wish that I had purchased the 80Gb instead. I was able to remove enough of our current library to have about 24Gb of music, then I have about 800Mb of daily Video Podcasts I watch. Plus I purchased all the Pixar Short Films from iTunes as well as the very first Chip and Dale cartoon. but the iPod only actually has 27Gb of storage.

Anyway, I take it everywhere I go now and once again my life is filled with music which has brought me joy and hapiness that in someways makes me feel like I did in High School when it felt like everyday I was discovering some new band or song that made me feel good and became the soundtrack of my life.

Posted by John at 12:13 AM
March 18, 2007
the week in review

The week itself was pretty much the usual, but the weekend was fantastic.

Saturday we went to Fresno to see Nana and Grandpa Qualls to celebrate Sebastian's 13th birthday. We thought it was going to be just another nice visit, but when we got there they had decorated their home with balloons and streamers, party hats and table displays. They really went out of their way to make it a special occasion for Sebastian and that made all of us, especially Sebastian, so happy. For his birthday Sebastian wound up with his new iPod Nano, a new set of headphones, 3 DVDs, the "Deal or No Deal" home DVD game, and lots of cash (which we have made him take a week to decide what he wants to spend it on). The Grandparents took us all to Claim Jumper for a great meal, then we had birthday cake; white cake with lemon filling and buttercream frosting from a local bakery - delicious. On top of all that they sent us home with a dozen or so Krispy Kreme donuts. Going to have to really hit the gym hard this week, I'm sure I've gained back the 6 pound I had lost.

I was super proud of Brie, amongst all the sweet treats and temptations she managed to stay within her Weight Watchers program. She has been having some medical issues as of late, but I'll let her talk about those.

This upcoming weekend Brie and I have to go out and buy a new washing machine, new lawn mower, new weed-eater, and then since we finally decided on how we want to decorate our kitchen/breakfast area, we need to go out and shop for new chairs and all the accessories we need to pull it together. We are ramping up our focus on the inside of our house because in May we are going to have our first big get together with all the families of the kids our children (ok well mainly Maddy) are friends with. We've become particularly close with two families and we have been over to both their houses on several occasions, but it was brought to our attention that in the 2 years we have known them we have never had them over to ours. We promised in May for the Keegan and Maddy's Birthday Bash we would have everyone over to our house. That gives us little less than 2 months to get all the projects we've been piling up done. Most of it revolves around actually decorating the inside of the house (new throw pillows, some new furniture pieces, filling up all the blank wall space) buying another steamcleaner to clean the carpet and finishing our big spring cleaning ( I have cleaned out 3 large trash bags full clothes for donation so far and we have three more to go in my estimate). Then of course tackling the backyard we really let it get out of control last year, we didn;t even use my brand new BBQ once last summer. We need to replant some grass in the areas the waterslide killed off, and probably power clean the cement and get rid of the sand box.

So we have lots of things to keep us busy. We've also set our sights on going on the Barenaked Ladies sponsored cruise to the Bahamas "Ships and Dips" which is sets sail from Miami in January. We figure it will be a nice early 18th Anniversary getaway for us. We saw the video podcasts of this years cruise and it just looks like too much fun to miss.

Posted by John at 10:46 PM
March 11, 2007
All about Sebastian

So last week was Sebastian's first solid week of being homeschooled and I just want to say I am so proud of him. He has proven himself to be a responsible hardworking student and I couldn't be more impressed.

The way the system works is that we get an email from our education coordinator that includes an Excel spreadsheet of the overall goals he must achieve for our current block (March 1st to 23rd right now) it defines the breakdown of time he should be spending on the current subjects he has. 45-60 minutes of Math everyday, 400 minutes of P.E. for every 10 school days. Then we also get a Word document that has the specific lessons for him to do each day. Monday - Lesson 7 on Minerals in Science. His two main "textbooks" are actually online. There is Odysseyware for Language Arts, Vocabulary, Science etc and Aleks for Math. Now Math is a little different. Aleks is a self-adjusting tutoring system. The first thing he ever did was take a placement test. Aleks knows the 263 (or somewhere around there) standards for California 7th Grade students and it tested Sebastian in the areas of math those standards fall into, Geometry, Algebra, Fractions, Decimals etc after he completed the placement test it showed us a pie chart that was the breakdown of each area and how many of the standards he already meets. Unfortunately, he only met like 8 of them. Very scary that the teachers at Kelley were giving him a passing grade in Math when it doesn't look like he had the most basic foundation in the standards. From there Sebastian logs in each school day and chooses an area on the pie chart that he wants to work on and it tutors him, it has audio, animation, quizes, and other very helpful tools so that he can learn his skills. Periodically it will test him in all areas again, even areas he completed some time ago to make sure he is retaining the information. If he doesn't pass then the pie chart will change and he will be required to go back to previous lessons before he can move on to new stuff. Pretty darn amazing.

Sebastian gets up every morning at 6:30 am and goes straight to the computer and begins work. It's very beneficial to him that he can set his own hours. Sebastian has always been a very early riser so for him being able to dive right into schoolwork in the morning is great. By the time I get home froms taking Keegan and Maddy to school he has usually completed more than half his schoolwork. So on M-W-F he and I go to the Gym and get in an hour of cardio and soon some weight training. As a bonus his school pays for $40 of our health club membership so that it qualifies as his P.E. That works out great for me as well, because now I have a responsibility that requires me to go to the Gym. When we get home from the Gym he takes a shower and for the next few hours he is free to do whatever he wants. I try to make sure to give him a few household chores to do, sorting laundry, cleaning up his bedroom or the game area, but he also get a chance to watch the shows he Tivo's (Good Eats, Scrubs, Attack of the Show, X-play, Ace of Cakes etc) and then in the afternoon when I leave to go get Keegan and Maddy he takes another couple hours to finish off any work he may have.

I was very concerned that he and I would be arguing a lot more because I would be forced to nag him all the time to keep him on track, but that has not been the case. If anything I have to tell him to take a break so I can get on the computer and do my stuff. Of course, most importantly he is so much happier knowing he doesn't have to go to school. One thing on our list now though, is that he really does need his own computer, him and sharing just gets in me frustrated.

Now as far as socialization goes. He has the opportunity to take all kinds of special classes at the actual school. We haven't started that yet, but he is looking at the list and trying to decide which classes he wants to attend they have things like Science Labs, Piano and Guitar lessons, Weather Club, and reading events.

Sebastian will be 13 on the 18th of this month. For his birthday we already got him a 2Gb iPod Nano. He not only needed it for the Gym, but he is at that age where music is starting to really become important to him. He paid me the best compliment Friday after we got home from getting the iPod. He told me that the reason he really loved music was because of me and most of the bands he likes are bands that I have exposed him to. NOTE - exposed him to, not necessarily bands I like. Right now outside of music from video games (he loves dance remixes of classic video game themes) he seems to have a pentient for emo rock type bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco, Good Charlotte all bands that I've like a couple songs from, but not really liked overall as artists. Then there is the stuff we share as a family like Barenaked Ladies, Green Day, Garbage, Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Black Eyed Peas. To have him tell me that he started having an interest in music because he saw how much I love it means a lot to me. It's one of those things that before we had kids I use to say, I can't wait to expose my kids to all the music I love and hopefully they will see how much music can make life better. He also listens to a lot of podacasts, far more than I do. Almost all are about the video game industry.

Lastly, there are 2 new rewards he has earned by being such a great kid and reaching age 13. First off, he really wants to start playing City of Heroes so we are in discussions about how to start letting him play. My hope was that he would have his own computer so that I could play with him at first and make sure he is capable of the social nature of the MMORPG game. The second is that he now has his own blog and as part of his curriculum I'm going to require him to start making entries as a sort of journal. Pretty soon I'll add a link to the homepage so he can share it. He wants to share with everyone the things he likes so I hop you family and friends will read it and give him some positive feedback to encourage his writing. It is one of those areas he really has to develop.

Posted by John at 12:02 AM