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Adjusting to Reality

Facing reality is both exciting and sobering for me. After years of hard work, I graduated college a little less than a month ago and I just wrapped up my first 2 weeks at my new job. I was lucky in that I ended up getting offered a job before graduation and that it was something I was interested in doing. I'm now working for an oilfield services company as a drill bit designer. It's fitting because I enjoyed all aspects of CAD in school and being able to apply it to a major industry is just plain awesome, not to mention that I can literally follow my designs as they go from the design phase, to the manufacturing facility, and even out to the field.

Nonetheless, things aren't all rainbows and sunshine. I've spent so much freaking money over the last month its almost sickening. I do have my own apartment now, but outside of college apartments, no places actually offer furnished apartments. So slowly, I'm having to buy all my own furniture so for the time being, it's a work in progress apartment. Nonetheless, it's insane thinking that a month ago I was wrapping up finals and turning in design projects and such. Now I get to be haunted by the mounds of short term debt I've gotten myself into, and how in the world I'm ever going to stop buying so much stuff haha.

Besides that, now I get to face the harsh truth that income taxes hurt a hell of a lot more than before. An entire fourth of first pay check was sucked out for federal income tax alone. I knew by being in a higher tax bracket I was going to have to pay more, but damn.This just feels cruel. You don't give a college student total freedom and then say "Oh yeah, that salary figure your new employer offered you? That's not really what you earn. You earn 75% of that, the rest falls into oblivion."

And before you start bashing me for complaining, no I realize that I'm extremely fortunate in all respects. I left college with minimal debt (until I had buy furniture and appliances), have a good job (that I will enjoy by the way), and have no major financial obligations other than rent and utilities. Life is good.

Crossroads of Life

It never ceases to amaze me how things change over time. Here I am, over a year after I wrote my last blog and so much has changed. I originally thought I would graduate college last year - however a miscalculation on my part delayed it to this semester. Basically, I had counted on taking a few extra classes last summer but it turns out they were placed in the same time slot, making it impossible to graduate last December. Shame isn't it? While I was originally infuriated, the delay gave me a little more of an opportunity to prepare for job hunting and to finish strong academic wise. Plus I gained an extra semester among a group of admirable friends, including my apartment roommates, which I will definitely miss after this May.

I'm starting to apply for different engineering jobs - as for which company I'll end up working for, I have no clue. First comes the process of applying, and having some sort of quality that convinces a representative of the company to contact me. Then I have to further convince them of my worth, because oddly enough many companies aren't knowledgeable in what my degree is about. But eventually, somewhere, some connection will be made and I'll finally be out in the "real" world. Though arguments can be made saying that college is the "real" world, but it's more of a half real world.

I've loved college. It's definitely worthwhile in more than just getting a degree that'll form the basis of a career. Though I'm growing... bored of it. Like I said, I'm going to miss my fellow cohorts in typical college shenanigans (IE drinking, video games and long nights of borderline childish randomness) but I need that sense of accomplishment that comes with being 100% on your own, living off your own income. I still have a job as a bus driver for my university, but it's only a stepping stone and works perfect as a college job.

I remember a few years thinking back at how much I've changed, and matured over the course of the time that I've been visiting GameSpot. I used to use this blog to rant about unions, my everyday complaints on high school and college life... and even girl problems. How ridiculous is that? If I had the patience I would go through them and read them, and delete them. I just read a few of them and yikes... I complain too much.


Now for the "tldr" version:

Graduating college was delayed to this semester, but I'm not too upset about it because I love my college friends. But I'm also getting tired of college because I want to be self supporting. And my old blogs make me cringe. Go figure... some of them were written almost 7 years ago.

The end.

11 is the magic number

11 seems to be quite a magic number for me... as fate would have it, my birthday would be on November 11th. In addition to that, 2011 is the year which I will graduate college. Honestly, it still feels surreal to say that. Mostly because a great deal of my life has been spent working my way up to this point. Anyways, 11 turned out to be a really fateful number for me by pure chance.

Tomorrow starts the penultimate semester for college for me - I'm not graduating this May because changing majors had a few complications along the way a few years ago. Aside from one pesky class that I may not be able to take this semester because it is full (and being in another department, complicates the process of being forced in). If fate is cruel to me, I won't be able to take it and... well I would be reduced to playing a dangerous game of luck with figuring out how to take 3 sequenced classes in 2 semesters - the summer and fall. Aside from that, everything looks good.

This semester I'm taking Thermodynamics, Manufacturing Automation/Robotics, Inspection Methods and Mechanical Design Applications. We'll see how this goes - compared to last semester, this semester is going to be a breeze.

So that definitely leaves more time for games!! :D

*ahem* Not too much of course though. :P

Time to turn my brain up to 11, see you on the other side.

Kinect + Party = Awesome

Kinect is the ruler of parties now. Last night me and my friends threw a party and someone brought Kinect - awesome times ensued. This party was several months in the making - it was a Ring Dunk party, which I'll explain in just a second. But quite literally, one of my close friends went out and bought Kinect last night and brought it over. The one sure thing I can say about Kinect is that it's a beast at parties.

Pretty much the entire time the party was going on, two people were playing either Kinect Sports or Kinect Adventures (which granted, are pretty much somewhat cursed by being launch games... better games will probably come eventually) and simply kept switching out with people from all around the party. It was pretty awesome to see your character replicate your moves and be able to detect distances and re-calibrate itself to work with people of different sizes.

That said, I was far too intoxicated most of the party to really judge Kinect past that. :P So one of the most widely revered traditions at my university is to get a class ring (it's not just any class ring... its THE Aggie Ring) your senior year and then have a Ring Dunk. Basically, the tradition is that you have to drop your ring into a pitcher of beer, and proceed to chug the entire thing as fast as possible. Ideally, in a minute plus your class year. My goal was a minute and 11 seconds... to down a 60 oz pitcher.

I deviated a little bit from the tradition, opting for a more tolerable mix of lemonade and vodka. Nonetheless, it was a monumental task - I ended up drinking the entire thing in about a minute and 25 seconds. Past the ideal "magic" number but hey... I drank it all without stopping, or without getting sick!! The best part was feeling the rush about 5 minutes after I was done... whew!!

So yeah, now you understand why my Kinect playing was very... ahem, atypical. Just involved laughing at myself and my horrific reflexes. :P But I will say without a doubt, Kinect is fun. Whether or not it'll really live up to its potential of absolute greatness... we'll see.

Insanity Is Me, Or is it?

So I sit here thinking, how and why have the last few months been a blur to me? Oh yeah that's right, I've been so ridiculously busy that I hardly have time to think nowadays. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that my school and work schedule was going to be hell this semester, but I haven't commented on it since then. All I have to say that my fears were spot on - most of the time I'm running in circles from my apartment, to school, to work, and then back to school and then back home.

I'm not sure what I was thinking back last April and May when I created this schedule. Apparently I had a few screws loose because I'm definitely going to plan my remaining 3 semesters better than this. Though it could be a lot worse - I might have totally ignored the fact that I need breaks for lunch and dinner and scheduled right through them. So I'm grateful for that at least.

Anyways, don't think I've been suffering this whole time though. At the same time I've been making sure I make use of every spare moment whether its hanging out with friends, going to football games, and playing... Halo Reach. I'll get back to Reach in a little bit, but I'm going to comment a bit on my universities football team first.

For those who don't know, I go to Texas A&M University. In the past month, our football team has been on TV 3 times, and lost all 3 times... and most recently made fools of themselves on national TV against Missouri. This would be okay considering all were against ranked teams, but my university's football team is really drawing my patience. I've come to the realization that despite having awesome facilities, awesome recruiting, good talent, and all the makings of a good team... that we still suck. Horribly. And that I will graduate from here without ever seeing a truly good football team. It's always been "almost." Anyways, I'm sure everyone feels this sort of frustration about their favorite team SOMETIME in their lives...

Whether its NFL or NCAA Football, or the dozens of other awesome sports out there - it happens. It's just especially frustrating when you spend 4-5 years at a university with so much hope only to have it crushed on a regular basis. Then again, I'm sure nothing compares to the heartache that Ohio State and Alabama are feeling right now... :roll: It's a shame though that I'm wasting half of my free time watching college football only to have it make me want to strangle the nearest small animal.

The other half of my free time : Halo Reach. I know it came out over a month ago but it's all but consumed my entire gaming world at the moment. I just recently got over the Warrant Officer hump in the ranks, which is an awesome feeling. However, I'm feeling a little burnt out at the moment. I never did solve the router issues I was having back in August - I still have a closed NAT, which cuts me off from about a third of my friends on Live. Add to that, Co-op campaign and firefight don't work on my 4 GB 360 (due to it not having a hard drive...) - making it a somewhat handicapped experience.

But if anyone wants to play, you're more than welcome to try to play with me, mostly on weekends though. Weekdays are usually too busy, and half the time when I'm free I'm too tired to bother to play. My gamertag is Executem, which I changed near the end of the summer. If I had you on there before then you don't have to do anything.

Anywho, that's all for now. Probably won't write another blog for a while - I'm surprised I sat down this long to write this one. :P

Who knows about wireless routers?

I have pretty specific issue I'm trying desperately to deal with but nothing seems to work. I recently bought a Netgear wireless router for all my stuff in my new apartment, AND *drumroll* finally bought my own Xbox 360. Yes, after a bazillion years of playing on other people's 360's, I finally have my own. I bought the 4GB because I'll never need or use 250 GB, especially now with flash drive support.

Here's my problem - my router refuses to make the connection type to an open NAT. Instead it stays on strict no matter what ports I forward, with UPnP turned on, and with NAT set to "Open" from the previous setting of "Secure." If you don't know what any of that means, then you unfortunately can't help me with this. I've tried everything that online sites and forums recommend for this issue, because it's a common issue. Most everyone's problems get solved by one or more of the solutions I've already tried - none work for me.

You would think that setting it to open would work but NO, it doesn't. I even asked my roommate to try connecting his own 360 to his own router (another Netgear router, different model) and it's giving him the same problem. I then thought it was my ISP that was the problem, only to plug my 360 via ethernet directly to the wall. And what do you know, it works. So it's not my ISP.

So I narrowed it down to my POS router. Does anyone have any other ideas? I mean, what are the chances that two different routers by Netgear would REFUSE, I mean absolutely refuse to cooperate? I'm almost tempted to say that simply, Netgear absolutely stinks.

So, any ideas? :D Maybe? Possibly? Pretty please? I'll give you a cookie!! :D

EDIT: So it would probably help if I gave you my router model - Netgear WGR614v10.

Must... refuse... temptation!!

....to refuse temptation to turn this into a "I'm back... but not really" or a "I just wanna complain" blog, that is. I really have to stop doing that - even though it's been over 2 months since my last blog, that's all I would've written in that time. But I suppose a good enough substitute is to let everyone know that I'm alive and well. Not that I ever really wouldn't be - I'm sure you wonder from time to time... whether old friends are doing alright?

It's common courtesy - to let out of touch friends know you're still doing alright. That's pretty much what I'm doing right now - I'm actually staying at my parent's house for a few weeks while my next apartment lease starts. It was my unfortunate luck that my last apartment wanted me out by July 31st, and that my next lease at a different apartment complex doesn't start until the 21st of this month. Sure I could've just worked something out - but I was pretty close to broke.

So... I'm stuck at home until the 21st. So I'm trying to get back together with some old friends from high school - I suppose it's worked but in reality, it's no substitute. It's making me realize that my high school friends are getting more and more distant... and that I miss everyone I know at university. It's just not the same, especially considering only a handful were even good enough friends to keep contact after high school... and from those, only a few are still living close by.

Anyways, I got my car fixed after the accident way back in June but my insurance company is still fighting for the money. The final bill came at over 6000 dollars to fix my car, and the other company is only wanting to pay half. Forget the fact that they started making up some ridiculous claims to make a case that I was negligent - I'll stop there. Just read my last blog - sums my whole feelings about this to a t. :D

So how's everyone doing anyways? I always stop by but most of the time I just don't post... perhaps someone can give me some motivation to post again? I'm starting to overload myself with TV shows and movies... Netflix can only go so far. :P (Don't get me wrong, a two week trial has kept me from going crazy these past few weeks lol)

Insurance can kiss my...

... you know what.

Sorry if anyone here works in the car insurance industry, but they are so horribly incompetent and unreliable it's a shock how they stay in business. So my car was hit two days ago, I was leaving my apartment when some guy backs out of his parking spot without looking, and rams into my car. My front fender and bumper are caved in and now grinding up against my front tire, my passenger door won't open and is also leaking water into my car. His back bumper came clean off.

That would be all fine and dandy if my own insurance could've gotten me a rental car while this one goes through the process of getting fixed. But no, it's not covered and even if it was, I'd have to pay a 500 dollar deductible anyway and have it reimbursed later. This happened Monday. Today, the other guys insurance (the other guy took the fault in the accident) was supposed to come and look at my car to come up with an appraisal to see how much it's going to cost to fix.

I told them specifically where to find it - gave them my apartment number, my car's license plate number, hell, even the color of the car. They tell me they will be there before noon, and so it comes around to 2 PM and no one has shown up. I call them, and then they tell me this load of bollocks:

"The adjustor came by at 10:30 and said he looked for the car and came to the conclusion that it was not there."

You know what I have to say to that? #$%@#$%@#$%!! Why the **** did they not call me asking me where the car was?

I'll bet anything they either did not come at all, were too lazy to look for it, or had the observational power of a gnat. Please tell me how you can't find a red car, when given it's exact location and license plate number when it's OUT IN THE OPEN.

**** me. Now they're coming by "again" on Friday. I'm half tempted to put flags on my car that say "RIGHT HERE, YES HERE IS THE CAR".


Phew, sorry about the rant. As you can tell I'm very pissed. Have you ever had anything like this happen to you?

Money Vacuums

Hey everyone... I just realized I've been really, really quiet for the past few months, so I've decided to change that somewhat now. I finished my final exams a few weeks ago but things have been a bit hectic since then, but now they've settled down. I've been working about 14-20 hours a week for the last few weeks, which isn't a whole lot considering what most jobs have you work.

Problem is, EVERYTHING, and I mean everything is a money vacuum. I'm truly appreciating it right now as I'm not living on scholarships (since it's inbetween semesters) and I still have to pay rent for my apartment. But more than that, it's difficult getting a lot of hours at my job this time of year. The vast majority of the hours available are bus detailing shifts, which basically you have to clean buses top to bottom in the unforgiving Texas heat. Not fun... but I'm at least grateful that I even have a job.

Anyways, everything just wants a piece of my well earned money. It's come time to order my college ring, the iconic Aggie Ring. It's a tradition at my university to get this ring at the beginning of your senior year of college, which for me starts this August.

aggie ring

I will be getting the basic ring, which will probably look like the one on the left. Nonetheless, it'll still cost me about a thousand dollars. Obviously it'll have my cIass year instead of 06, which is 11.

Oddly enough, this ring will eventually serve as part of another tradition... the Ring Dunk. I'll let you enjoy that thought if you want. :P

'Tis a Lost Cause

So my roommate's 360... could not be salvaged. We literally tried everything to fix it but unfortunately, it has gone off the deep end. So no more 360, for now. My roommate decided that he's going to save up and buy a new one (an Elite this time) over the summer. So at least I can recover my saved games and stuff before I have to move out of the apartment... wouldn't want the last 6 months worth of gaming to disappear now would I? :P

That said, I went home last week and took back my DS from my brother, and now it's firmly in my hands. I've been playing it a little bit, but I bought two Wii games recently. I've been wanting Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess for years now - I played it on GameCube, but... the game was my ex-girlfriend's. (I lost access to so many good games... Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X... ;_; ) It's been a total drag for the last year or so that I've been looking for a copy of the Wii version that was anything under 45 dollars.

I denounced it as downright impossible. It never dipped under 45 dollars, until just recently that GameStop lowered the price to 40 dollars, and a locally owned used game store had it for 35 dollars. I grabbed that copy, and I think I may have almost danced out of that store. :lol:

So I finally have that, and I also bought Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles for 15 bucks at GameStop. Yeah, I'm strange like this - I tend to buy games a few years after they come out. Rarely do I ever pay full price for a game. It did irritate me last year when I bought Resident Evil 5 for 60 bucks and literally a few weeks later everyone lowered the price to 40 dollars. Really frustrating.