Saturday, May 28, 2011

At the Beach with the Family

It was one of those rare instances where nearly everyone in the family had Saturday off (Charles unfortunately had to work). I had originally planned to stay home and game all day but changes my plans because hey, who knows when we'll all be fortunate enough to have the same day off work.

Instead of going to the main Virginia Beach, we went to a beach that was about 15 minutes away from the house. It was my first time being to this particular beach and the first time I'd been to a beach that had way more than a handful of people. Kids and adults were having fun in the water, people were fishing, riding jet skis, ya you know, all the good fun activities you can do when you're that close to the ocean.

As always, the beach, no matter which one it is always impresses me. The view was phenomenal, the ocean crashing against the shore, the sound of the waves, the smell of the water, I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.

I watched my nieces and nephew play around in the water. Despite being only a year old, Samuel shows no fear of those crashing waves. He didn't even cry when some water got on his face. Nakiah loved to tube around in the water. I think she stepped further into the water more than any of us.

I actually did get my feet wet but I only wet so far. That whole not-being-able-to-swim thing could get messy. Still it was great to stand in the water if only a small part of me was in it. The water hitting my feet as I listened to music on my MP3 player and stared out at the ocean, man, that was awesome. I'm still cleaning sad out of my shoes and my bag. We'll probably be vacuuming the stuff up for some time but we had so much fun today. It was one of the best Saturdays I've had in a very long time. Definitely gonna have to do that again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stormy Weather Aftermath

On Tuesday, May 24th, we had a brief but nasty thunderstorm here in VA Beach a little bit after 4 PM. The winds were so strong that I feared rocks or even tree branches might have flown through the windows. My mom was on her way home in the middle of the mess but she made hit back safely, save for being drenched. My sister was out with her kids and she made unscathed. Same with my father.

I was getting ready for work when the storm came. The power kept flicking on and off when around 4:30, it was finally knocked out for a good, long while. It wasn't just my neighborhood that was without power. A good chunk of VA Beach was without electricity. There wasn't much to do at my job because the back up lights don't give you much to see and there's only so much you can do when your power is down. I was at work for about 2 hours then was sent home.

The power gradually came back in different places. Streets lights were also off in certain intersections. Combine that with many folks in VA Beach not knowing how to drive and crossing a street becomes very risky business. I have to say though, it was one of the few times I encountered some generous people behind the wheels of a car. There have been times I've had the signal to cross and idiots have pulled out in front of me, nearly making me lose a limb or worse.

We had Papa Johns Pizza for dinner with candles lit. Fortunately, we had some flash lights with batteries so seeing where we were going was not a problem. The real struggle for me was finding something to do with no electricity.

I was a bit sleepy so it was one of the rare occasions that I climbed into bed earlier. It's been taking me a while to fall asleep lately and it was after 10 when I laid down. When I woke up, I was annoyed when I looked at my clock to find out that it was only ten minutes until 12 AM. The power was, of course, still out. I think I begrudgingly fell back sleep a little while after that realization.

The second time I woke up, it was going on 3 AM. Still no power. I did have my sansa fuze + MP3 player to listen to and I was listening to some music on that to help get me to sleep, but when you're a night owl, going to bed early is hard. Staying asleep is even harder. There was also my DS to keep me occupied. I finished Gunstar Super Heroes after about an hour of playing with one of the characters. I didn't feel like finishing it with the other because one of the stages had irked me enough for one night.

I'd heard of people reading books in the dark with the aid of a flashlight. Never thought I'd do it, but I was done gaming for the night and I had some reading I'd been wanting to catch up on. So I passed an hour's worth of time reading a Guinness Book of World Records book (more on that in my other blog). As much as I enjoy gaming, the company of a good book is quite nice and even better when you've got some good tunes to hear. It was probably one of the best parts of doing without power, the other being dinner with my mom, dad and two nieces, something I don't get to do much of since I work a lot now.

I didn't want to completely drain my MP3 player's batteries or those of the flashlight so when the chirping of the birds became more frequent and daylight ever so slowly crept in, I went to sleep for the third time. I woke up a little after 10 and the power was back on. That had to be the longest I've ever gone without power in terms of bad weather. As bad as it was, it was a cakewalk compared to the people who were struck by that twister in Missouri. Some people still don't have power, but at the very least, many of us do have our lives.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MP3 Player Upgrade

I've been aware for some time now that my first MP3 player, the Philips GoGEAR Vibe was much too small in terms of storage space. 4 GBs may seem like a lot but for someone that has a super extensive selection of music,  4GBs just wasn't going to cut it. There was also the issue with some skipping on songs. For a while, the skips on happened with certain songs but it worsened as I made new playlists. It got to a point where songs that normal wouldn't skip had multiple skips in them, which, understandably made enjoy my music that much more difficult.

Since I've been working for about a month now, I've been able to afford stuff again (which is oh so nice) and a top priority for me was replacing my old MP3 player with a superior model. After doing some browsing in Best Buy, I was disheartened that the prices for even 32 GB MP3 Players and 16GB iPods were rather steep. Even with what I make now, $230 and up is a lot to pay for a portable music player. That's like video game console money right there. I had just about given up when an employee recommended the SanDisk sansa fuze + 8GB MP3 Player.

Now I usually prefer to do some research on something before I buy. Nevertheless, I picked up the sansa fuze + without doing any reading up on the device. On top of that, I'd never even heard of this particular MP3 Player until I went in the store that day. Though I've used some of SanDisk's products before and I'm quite pleased with how well they've worked, I was still a tad apprehensive about the sansa fuze. For starters, it cost more than the GoGEAR Vibe did, but offering more storage space, that's to be expected, but it wasn't as much as the more costly players. What sold me on buying it was that the sansa fuze + storage space could be expanded with the microSD card. I picked up the 16 GB micro SD card for a whopping total of 24 GBs of storage space.

The sansa fuze + is about twice the size of the GoGEAR Vibe, which kinda sucks because I adored the small size of that thing. It also uses touch on the bottom half as opposed to more full on buttons, which took some getting used to. I had some trouble navigating the menus and picking my music due in part to the shuffle being turned on and not knowing what took me where. Of course now I can use the thing without any problems.

I have to say, I REALLY dig this thing. The touch buttons rock and the amount of space on this baby is awesome. Unfortunately, there are a few nitpicks. The touch buttons, awesome as they are are pretty sensitive. If you want to listen to a song or hear a playlist without accidentally skipping to another song or going to another menu, you pretty much have to set the thing on lock. It can also take a while to load up after adding more content to it. After the the almost non-existence loading I had on the GoGEAR Vibe, I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to it. It's almost as bad as putting up with loading on games. But, the good overtakes very little bad, so it's really hard to keep griping about such things.

So what became of the GoGEAR Vibe? Well, I know I said I'd hang on to it for sentimental value, but my mom was thinking about getting herself and MP3 player and the thought did cross my mind to give her my old one. 4 GBs of space is more than enough for her and she's had very little problems with songs skipping. I told her that if she ever encountered any trouble I'd just get her a new MP3 player. I feel kinda bad that I only used my first MP3 Player for about 5 months, but I really needed something with more space and my first player served me well. Besides, it seems fitting that my mom should get my first MP3 player since she bought it for me in the first place.