I Hate IBC Bank

It doesn’t take much for a bank to get on my bad side. Bank of America is easily near the top of my internal list of Things That Suck for kicking up the interest rate on my credit card AFTER I called them asking them to lower it. Fortunately, I have moved the balance to a different bank where I won’t be paying a interest rate that would make Tony Soprano jealous. My current bank is IBC, which really cheesed me off back in November.

So I have this check from my good friend Carlos (who should be enjoying his new Wii as I type this) that I would like to deposit into my account. Plan A was to go during lunch, but that went out the window because I had to go to a ‘meet and greet’ at work. I got to make an ass of myself by telling ‘war stories’ to customers, one of whom worked for the company that I was talking about in one of my stories. Whoops.

So its time for Plan B, which is to go after work. One of the nice things about IBC Bank is that they are open until later in the evening…except for today. I drive up to the closest location to home at about 5:15 to find they are closed with no indication as to why. The sign that says they are open until 8:00 only serves to perplex me further. I figure its a fluke, and decide to try another location. That one is closed as well, but at least there I find a sign on the door that says they CLOSED AT 4:30 FOR TODAY ONLY.

I was seven layers of pissed-off. The ONE FARKING TIME I actually have to go to a branch and they close up early. If that isn’t a sign to find a new bank, I don’t know what is. As far as I’m concerned, IBC stands for International Bunch of Cocksmokers now.

Wii Feel Guilty

I have a friend named Carlos (well, two, actually, but that’s neither here nor there) who has been searching for a Wii for a few months now. The purchase has been approved by the Office of Budget and Management (Mrs. Carlos) and the money is in the bank, so all that is left is for them to FIND one of the silly things.

As most folks know, that is “the hard part.” Needless to say, he took umbrage at my stumbling upon a Wii by accident. Not too much, though, since he’s a really good guy. Frankly, if I were in his shoes I would be cursing my name and spitting at the ground that I walked upon.

I would also be over six-feet tall, which would be pretty sweet.

The fact that he is such a nice guy (and also hosts a good Super Bowl party) made me feel bad for his inability to find a Wii. I then made it a habit to keep my eyes peeled for them as I’m out and about. The next day after purchasing mine, I even went back to that same store and they still had one! I then immediately called Carlos, but to no avail, as his phone was turned off. D’oh.

I certainly couldn’t blame myself for that, but nevertheless my “Wii guilt” ate at me until my insides burned like the fire of a hundred suns! Well, maybe not THAT bad, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?

As fate would have it, I happened to be at Costco last night looking for printer ink, and lo and behold, there sat a PALLET of Wii! (hmm, sounds like something out of Dr. Seuss) Once again, I called Carlos, and this time he was there (yay) BUT he doesn’t have a Costco card. We then made a gentleman’s agreement: I would purchase the system, he would pay me the cost and everybody would be happy. He would have the object of his desire, and I would be able to play Zelda:Twilight Princess guilt-free again.

There was a small problem in this otherwise brilliant plan: Like many other retailers Costco bundled the Wii, which bumps up the cost. Their bundle came with 2 games (Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Play) and a second nunchuck for $350. That’s actually not a bad deal; you’re getting the nunchuck for free. I wasn’t sure if I had the scratch to cover it in my checking account, though, and I only had my debit card on me. No biggie, I thought to myself, I’ll run home, grab a credit card with a grace period, pay it when the bill comes in with the money from Carlos, and once again, everybody’s happy.

I dash home in the Reliant feeling pretty good about myself, and hurry back to claim the prize only to find that THE LAZY BASTARDS AT COSTCO CLOSE AT 830. Dammit.

The Wii guilt weighed heavy on my heart as I dialed Carlos’ number…he told me not to sweat it…he’s just too darn nice, I tell you. Yet, I cannot let go of my Wii guilt quite that easily. Nay, I shall continue to search high and low until we are both merrily hurling Koopa shells at each other in Mario Kart. Only then will I can be absolved of my Wii guilt! Verily, I must!

Or I’ll get lucky and they’ll still have some at Costco today. 😉

UPDATE: Yup, I got lucky, woo-hoo!

Sang Songs Say So Much

I was feeling bummed out this evening; I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately for a variety of reasons, but even more so today. The oddest things can sometimes snap me out of a case of the blues, though.

After the death of a relative some years ago, reading the “The Death and Return of Superman” comics helped me deal with the loss. Red Beans and Rice (with Sausage!) from Souper Salad picked me up a few years ago when I was depressed over the lousy employment situation I was in at the time.

For whatever reason, though, tonight the blues-buster was Karaoke Revolution. I’ve only sang karaoke once in public, but thanks to this game I can croon away in the privacy of my home without humiliation, save for the barbs of Virtual Simon Cowell.

I played for a few hours, managed to top a few high scores, and I felt much better when I was done. I tried to stick to the fun songs, but I will admit to indulging in the occasional weepy love song. A perfect score for “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” remains just beyond my reach, though -sigh-

I guess I’ve learned that when listening to music isn’t enough, performing it has a stronger effect, even if your audience is a virtual one. I wonder if Guitar Hero works just as well. Now I really want to buy Rock Band.

Virtual Simon found my rendition of “Here I Go Again” to be ‘atrocious.’ Jerk.

The cake is a…BARRRRF!

I picked up Portal yesterday, but wasn’t able to play it until today (more on that in a moment) I had heard the game was short, and so I figured I would blow through it in a few hours, see what all the fuss was about, and get back to my consoles.

While I’m not one one those “PC gaming is dead” fanboys, I will say that if my Portal experience is any indication, the amount of suck associated with PC gaming has increased. It used to be that you bought a game, popped the disc into your PC, typed in one of those long CD-keys, installed it, and you were ready to rock-and-roll.

Now you have to first install extra software on your PC, activate your CD-Key using that software via the Internets, and hope that no significant game-farking bugs exist in the game. Granted, we had the last one back in The Good Old Days, too, but publishers seem to be more willing to let the folks who buy the game on Day 1 be their beta testers these days.

Needless to say, two of those three of those things got borked up. Steam installed with no problem, but when it came time to “activate” the key, I kept getting “Invalid Key” errors despite the fact that I had typed it in correctly. I had to submit a case to Valve’s customer service (after making a scan of my CD-Key and submitting it, grr) and then figured I’d probably have to wait until Monday. Back to Twilight Princess, then.

On a hunch, I tried activating the game again today, and lo, and behold, it worked. It would have been nice if someone had told me the problem had been fixed, but no matter. I was just happy because it was Game Time!

I start playing, and life is good; Portal is an awesome game and deserves all the hype it has received. Unfortunately, a bug poppped up after one of the levels, instead of loading the next level, the game would drop me back to the main menu for no good reason whatsoever. Greaat, now it’s Patch Time!

After poking around for awhile, it turns out the bug has been fixed, I have to restart Steam and the game in order to apply the fix. It was another case of “that would have been nice to know” that I would be more willing to let slide if there wasn’t for this client application (that I was forced to install) sitting on my PC that probably could have told me this ahead of time.

Now it was Fun Time again! I would have finished the game alot sooner if it wasn’t for the fact that I kept closer and closer to blowing chunks the longer I played the game. I can usually tolerate first-person shooters pretty well, but every so often, one comes across that gives me motion sickness. Sadly, Portal is now on the list of “games I can’t play for too long unless I want to see that Whataburger I had for lunch again coming out the wrong end.”

In any event, I finished Portal and enjoyed the game, but the varied problems I came across got me pretty “Steam-ed.” The next time I have to pick between the console and PC versions of a game, I will definitely go with the console. You pop in the disc, and it just works, just like The Good Old Days.

Wii would like to browse

I decided to drop a few bucks and buy the Wii browser. The thought of not having to use my PC to check email sounds pretty nice. I figured if it wasn’t that great, I’d only be out five bucks. I was already pretty impressed with the News and Weather channels built into the Wii, but the fact that the browser was made by Opera gave me pause.

My last experience with Opera was a few years ago, just before it was ready for prime-time. It couldn’t render tables very well, which was a liability when reading forums. It did, however, have tabbed browsing, so it was a bit ahead of its time in that respect.

I have to say, the Wii browser is pretty nice. I can view almost all of my favorite websites just as they appear on my PC (MSNBC chokes on it for some reason, imagine that). It also has Flash support, which unfortunately means Flash ads. Youtube works pretty good, and fullscreen mode is supported. Now, if I can see Zero Punctuation on my 32″ TV, that will rock.

The icing on the cake? USB keyboards work on the Wii, which is a good thing, or else I’d have developed carpal tunnel trying to type this in.

Apparently, LiveJournal doesn’t like the way the Wii handles linefeeds, good thing there’s always good ol’ HTML!

No Zero Punctuation -sob- Hey Opera, when’s that Flash 7 support coming? 😛

Grumpy Young Men

I had a conversation with a coworker late today about something in the news (I’ll spare you the details) and I ended the conversation because I could tell he was getting worked up. He was rapidly descending into “grumpy old man” mode and I knew things were going to get unpleasant if the conversation continued. He isn’t really an “old man” per se; by my estimates he has at least a decade on me, but I thought it was sad on a certain level to see the “old man” come out of someone who is pretty chipper most of the time.

Based on conversations about his ‘good old days’ he was something of a firebrand, but somewhere, somehow, the fire burned out, leaving another bitter old man thinking that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

I’ll admit to carrying a box of cynicism in my pocket most of the time, but deep down, I think that the world is slowly becoming a better place. I believe that tomorrow will be a better day, despite the efforts of those who stand to lose if the status quo is not maintained. I like to think that the good people outnumber the bad, and eventually we will get to that Better Place where everybody gets along and everyone has the opportunity to grow and succeed.

I guess I’m something of a closet hippie, then. Groovy, baby. 🙂

At any rate, the episode made me think about myself as I grow older. Am I fated to lose that sense of optimism and hope as the months and years fall off the calendar? Or can I keep that fire burning despite the years, the tears, and the fears that lie ahead? I pray that I will, because the world has enough grumpy old men as it is.