Pictures of a snow covered field in Pennsylvania

I took some pictures out in the field behind my house this evening. If there’s one thing I miss about Pennsylvania is the beautiful wide open spaces that always look great covered in snow.

Pennsylvania snowy field 1

snow pennsylvania field 2

Pennsylvania snowy field 3

Pennsylvania snowy field 4

Pennsylvania snowy field 5



Realized I’ve only finished one book since college

Cuckoos Calling

I’ve come to the realization that since I graduated with a BA in English in 2010 I’ve only finished one book. That book, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. It had me hooked, every chapter seemed to end on a cliffhanger and I had to read on to figure out what was really going on. And just when I thought I had it figured out, I was wrong. Maybe I need another book like that?

I started reading JK Rowling’s ghost written The Cuckoo’s Calling about six months ago, and though I enjoyed it, I still haven’t finished it (I’m on page 431 on iBooks on my MacBook). I also have about 30 other books in my iBooks library that I’ve either read a page or two of or haven’t opened.

Part of it might be that I no longer have my iPad which I’d use to read in bed (I had intended to get an iPad Air but ended up with an Xbox One instead). Even then I’d get distracted by Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, CNN or several other apps or websites. Yet I can’t find myself ever wanting to touch a paper book again. I just don’t like physical media. I subscribe to the New York Times but read it via the Chrome app (which is nice because it’s still laid out like a newspaper). Paper books and newspapers are just an unecessary waste of resources. Same goes for DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc. Why waste all that plastic when you can just go digital?

iBooks for Mac

Anyway, enough ranting. Maybe I’ll finish one of these books while I’m on vacation. I don’t mind reading on my MacBook (I love that Mavericks included iBooks) but again I can’t force myself to sit still long enough to focus on just one task.

Finally finished a game of Civilization V



Last night I finially finished a game of Civilization V. A game that I started back in October. I had never played a game to completion, in fact I think this was the first and only game I ever started. Obviously I hadn’t put a lot of time in it, mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to win. The only Civ game I had ever played was Civilization Revolution on the 360 and I thought those matches were long, so when I wasn’t nearing victory after an hour investment I assumed I was doing something wrong. Three hundred and fifty (give or take) turns later and I finally achieved victory.

When I took the photo above I thought I was finally nearing victory, I had just overtaken Russia on the northern part of the continent and I moved my ‘massive’ army south to take on Songhai. I figured I’d rush in and burn their three cities to the ground and the game would be over. After the fires cooled I still had not won. “Was there something I’m missing? Do I have to take out the city-states too?” I pondered. Then I realized there were still three civilizations I hadn’t even encountered yet, somewhere out in the mist.

So I sent my troops to sea, at first to the east and couldn’t find anything. After an agonizingly long time of sending ships around the entire continent I found another continent to the west that held the Egyptians and Greeks along with an occupied India.

I started to send every unit in my country westward after forming an alliance with a city-state so I could start staging my troops on their land. I then stormed into Greece and started attacking two cities at once. I liberated Mumbai and returned it to Gandhi as I continued to exterminate the Greeks from existence. I allied with Egypt in order to use their land to surround Greece and burn it to the ground. Greece had fallen.

Now all that stood in my way was Egypt, and I wasted little time breaking my alliance with them (angering Gandhi) and storming across their borders. I at first concentrated all of my troops on their northernmost city and they put up the most difficult fight yet. They took out three or four of my units before I realized if I just took out their capital in the south I would win. I moved my cannons and rifleman south and engaged some of their troops with swordsman as I set up my siege troops. More units were lost, but it was inevitable, their capital would soon fall. I thought I would still have to face India since I handed Mumbai back over to them so I started setting up the rest of my troops on the edge of their border to make my final advance toward victory. Egypt soon fell and it turned out I was victorious. The long war ended sometime in the 1900’s. It was over.

Civilization V

I learned quite a bit during this game. When I first started out I would try to overpower cities rather than attack them strategically with archers and siege units while my ground troops stayed back. I’d lose entire armies trying to take a single city. I also thought in order to win I had to burn every city to the ground, not just the capitals. It’s probably easier to attack a civilization’s outer cities before going for the capital, but next time I don’t think I’ll go after every single one. I also ended up with way too many cities. I had at least 15, if not 20 or more since I annexed almost every city I came across (eventually I started razing them as my unhappiness grew).

I think I’m more prepared for the next game, though there’s still a lot I don’t know. For one, toward the end a few of my cities started starving and I couldn’t figure out why. Also, production was painfully slow in almost all of my cities (30 turns or more for a basic unit) and I still don’t know why that happened either. I still have a lot to learn, but I have to say I enjoyed completing my first game.

A gamer vacationing with limited internet

So I’m 3 days into my 21 days of leave I’m spending back home in Pennsylvania and it’s been nice so far, except in one area: internet. My dad has Hughe’s Net satellite internet since he lives in the middle of nowhere and while it may be faster than dialup I’d hardly consider it usable as a gamer. Sure it’s fine for basic tasks, but there’s a 10gb monthly data limit that makes doing many things impossible. No Netflix streaming. YouTube videos are slow to load anyway, so I doubt Netflix would be enjoyable to use.

Now I know you may be thinking ‘hey you’re on vacation, get off the internet!’ but I’m just home visiting family. If I were on vacation I’d be in Florida or Seattle. Besides most of my friends and family are at work during the week, so it’s not like I could hang out with them anyway. My girlfriend is flying out from Boise on Friday and she’ll be here for a week so that’s when we’ll be going sightseeing in D.C., NYC, Baltimore, etc. since it’ll be her first time on the East Coast.

Anyway. I tried playing Call of Duty Ghosts over Hughes Net and there’s about a 3 second delay between input and response due to the nature of satellite internet, making it entirely unplayable. I’m able to play Forza’s career mode without issue on this connection at least. It has no issue populating my races with drivatars and updating leaderboards, etc.

I was able to connect using my iPhone 5’s mobile hotspot which did make Call of Duty play smoothly over an LTE connection. I used about 400mb of my 5gb data plan after a couple of hours which isn’t ideal, but I think it’ll do for the rest of this week at least. I’m probably going to have to go to a friend’s house to download the March 11 system update that coincide’s with Titanfall’s release (and with any luck Titanfall will probably have a day one update).

Anywho, just figured I’d stop in and update on my trip so far. Winter Storm Titan turned out to be a dud here in southern Pennsylvania as it only dropped about two inches of snow as opposed to the 8″ and up that was predicted. Now I’m just hoping it warms up enough before Vanessa gets out here so we can enjoy some decent weather in D.C. and New York.

I also picked up Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare but haven’t gotten to play a whole lot yet. I tried playing Garden Ops over HughesNet and managed to create a game but couldn’t connect with any other people so I only survived one round. I played a few split screen games with my brother which was nice, but we got disconnected from the EA servers a few times which terminated the game. It’s also worth nothing that both players are required to have an Xbox Live Gold account even though you’re playing on the same Xbox. This is weird because no other game on Xbox One has this requirement, only one Xbox Live Gold account is required on the console.

I’m off to make another cup of coffee. See you soon!