Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Why Am I So Loud? Observations About Kinect Video Chat

In dance, Dance Central, dog, family, Kinect, relationship on January 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Kinect Video Chat.

Now we can talk to each other, much like a split-screen in a newscast – one person/several people in one box talking to another person/group, or an extension of the web cam experience.  Doesn’t seem super futuristic, but nonetheless, I heard about this and thought it might be cool to do it through Kinect.  I wondered how well it would work.   I tried it out with two parties in my Xbox Live crew:  my friend, a former TV news producer, and my brother, a computer nerd and electrical engineer.   Just for the record, these are smart people with a knack for communications technology (and then there’s me).

First attempt with my friend, the former TV producer, and here are my observations:

  • It was not intuitive where to go.  She and I had to get on the phone to troubleshoot how we accepted each others’ requests to do Video Kinect.
  • Just for the record, when you get a pop up “toast”, you have to go to the Dashboard and check your messages.  Via messages, you can accept.  Then you can Video Kinect.
  • I would really like it if you could just say “Accept” when you get the “Toast” and Kinect does the rest for you.  This would use the voice recognition and leave none of the thinking to the user.  IMO.  (More on my early impressions of “toast” in this post: “We Were Making Out On The Couch…”)

Second attempt, with my brother and his family.

  • Same thing, only he had been trying to figure out a bunch of things, such as how to add friends, for awhile, before we had to get on the phone.
  • Richard was with me, so he talked them through it.
  • My question is this:  If you don’t have a Richard, who helps you?  Normal people need fewer steps.

That being said, when we finally Video Kinect-ed with my brother, my sister and law and my niece and nephew, I have to say it was kind of entertaining.  My niece wanted to see the dog right away, so we sat the dog up to say hi.   Then, we talked about our experiences with Dance Central.  If you don’t think this is all terribly boring, here’s a peek at our Video Kinect conversation.

You might notice that I laugh really loudly.  My mother always told me this was inappropriate, but many years later I just can’t help it.  On video though, it does make me think why AM I so much louder than everyone else? Maybe my mom should answer this random question.


Kinect Saves a Manhattan Mom From Meltdown

In family, gaming, Kinect, relationship, workout on December 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Me to my friend Robin via phone:  “Are you having fun with Kinect?”

Robin: “Fun?  Kinect is not fun.  Let me tell you.  Kinect is saving our sanity.”

You see, the December 2010 East Coast blizzard has created cabin (or Manhattan apartment) fever for my dear friend, her sick husband and two little boys.  The older one, Gabriel, is a six year old with energy that could power the entire island of Manhattan in case of blackout.  When there’s a blizzard of this magnitude, the concept of containing kid energy of this magnitude in a two-bedroom New York apartment sparks…parental survival instincts.

The family has been snowed in for days; however, Gabriel has not been bouncing off the walls.  Instead, he’s been bouncing around in a 3×3 square foot space in the apartment’s living room… playing Kinect… instead of acting out and wearing out his mom.  (There are only so many snow angels you can make, you know?)

“Let me tell you how much Gabriel loves Kinect.  He doesn’t even realize there’s a box of Christmas cookies on the table.” (Robin again, who can’t stop raving about the Xbox in her living room, which was formerly devoid of any video game technology.)

Several months ago, Robin’s husband (the dad), a cerebral chap, was truly suspicious and dubious about having an Xbox and/or Kinect in their apartment at all.

This week, I greeted him on the phone with: “Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Kinect.”

His response?  “Yes.  Kinect is a Godsend.”

At the very least, it is a parental coping mechanism providing a little boy with exercise in a record-breaking snowstorm.

Kinectimals Quagmire: Bornean Clouded Leopard or Golden Retriever?

In dog, family, gaming, Kinect, relationship on November 22, 2010 at 6:26 pm

My obsession with Dance Central and Bust A Move leaderboard status was starting to get a little unhealthy, I guess you could say, so I busted out Kinectimals for what I thought would be a kinder, gentler game for my emerging Kinect addiction.

Little did I know that Kinectimals would be… so freaking adorable.

I proceeded to play frisbee and soccer with my Bornean Clouded Leopard, run around the beach with it, clean it and feed it.  I even bought it a bed for the island homestead.  I thought: my niece, a junior high school aged animal lover and aspiring veterinarian, is going to freak out when she plays this next month.

I was unaware that some time during my immersion, my real dog had snuggled up in the area near my feet, which is quite unusual when we’re moving around in the living room.  Usually, she knows to stay out of the way.

I stepped right to kick the soccer ball – and I accidentally kicked the dog.  Oh no!   Not hard, just a little.

Hugs, apologies and a treat or two later… I think she forgot what happened.

But I suddenly felt guilty… like my real pet deserved a little more attention.  She has been around much longer, after all.  My Bornean Clouded Leopard has only been in my life for two days.



Kinectimals Takeaways:

  • Make sure real pets are away from your feet or area of play.
  • Give them much love in advance of a play session.
  • Love your pet a lot after your play session.
  • For kids – some of the levels of play are pretty fast-paced, but the game itself is pretty encouraging and forgiving.
  • For adults – you may be surprised that this is a fairly active game for a kids’ game.  You might even break out in a sweat during the crab-booting on the beach!

No way! I’m #6 in the World!

In dance, family, relationship on November 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Never before did I think I would be obsessed (okay, semi-obsessed) with my gamer score or rank.

Today, I discovered that I’m #6 in the world for Dance Central’s “Bust A Move”.  WHAT?!!!  Check. It. Out.

Now, I know that the competition is limited at this point, because Kinect just came out, so as more people/dancers get on board with it, the board will get more crowded at the top.

How long can I stay in the Top 10?

One thing is for sure.  I’ve  never been in the Top 10 in the world for anything.  I’ll be sweatin’ to Young MC in my attempt to stay there… and working on my abs at the same time.

Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.

In family, gaming, Halo, Product, relationship, zombie on October 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Last week, around 2am, I stirred in my sleep to find that my husband still hadn’t come to bed.  Battling an ugly cold, I went back to sleep.

Several hours prior, around 9:30pm, as I said goodnight, Richard had logged onto Xbox Live to start a multi-player Halo: Reach session with his two brothers and brother-in-law (two of them on Eastern time, so 12:30am there, already).

Flash forward to the morning after.  I wake up.  He is stirring…barely coherent.

“What time did you come to bed?” (this is me)

“Around five.” (this is him)


“Are you serious?” (me)

“Yes.  At least I won’t have to play Halo:Reach anymore.  It’s done.”

“You finished the entire game?” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

“All of you.” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

Mouth agape. (me)

“Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.” (this is him)

“They stayed up all night and played until 8am their time?” (me again, wondering how my sisters-in-law dealt with the little kids and everything)


I really couldn’t say anything, based on my New Year’s Day obsession with Kung Fu Panda (see post: A new decade. Another day of Kung Fu Panda), but at least I played during the day…on a holiday…and I stopped to walk the dog and eat.  These guys were zombies.

Reflective pause. (me)

“Was it good?” (me again)

“Yes.” (him)

“Do you want me to let you sleep some more?” (me)

“Yes.” (him)

Zombies, I tell you.  Zombies.

Thank goodness we started talking about Family Guy.

In dance, dinner, dog, family, gaming, Halo, Product, TV watching on September 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm

And… cue the quicksand.  I’m sinking deeper into geek-land.

The other day we were visiting friends, whose pre-teen sons were, let’s just say, brilliant and enlightening (it was like talking to two Stewies from Family Guy, but with less anger).  However, they are boys, and they’re very excited about the recently released Halo: Reach (as in Spartans and multi-threat armor, etc.).

They also can’t wait for controller-free gaming with Kinect.  Suddenly, over hors d’oeuvres, I found myself explaining the benefits versus drawbacks of playing shooter games on Kinect.

“Does Kinect work with shooter games?” (John)

“Well, it’s really not for shooter games, because of the timing.”  (This is me… and I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.)

“How does it work with shooter games?” (Trevor)

“It’s not what you really want for shooter games to be effective in your game.  By the time you react, tell it to do what you want, then it reacts and shoots… it’s a little too far past the moment.  In that type of situation, you really want the immediacy of the controller to just hit the button and fire the shot.”  (WHO. AM. I?)

“Oh.  Yeah, I guess you would just want to hit A.”  (John)

“Exactly.”  (I pause.  Please pass the red pepper dip and celery.)

Soon afterward, conversation shifted to the brilliance of Seth McFarlane and the season premiere of Family Guy.

Whew.  That was fun, but just a little bit alarming.

(That being said, I am excited to dance MJ moves on Kinect.)

Why Does One Need Multi-Threat Armor? It’s about more than Halo: Reach..

In dog, family, fashion and style, gaming, Halo, movies, Product, relationship, TV watching on August 26, 2010 at 11:16 am

“Do you want to watch something while we eat?”

This is a normal question Richard poses to me as we sit down to dinner. However, also normal: having to sort through all the new videos on Xbox Live before we can even get to something like, say, Mad Men (you know, the amazing, award-winning show on AMC).

The other evening, this was the video that I experienced as I was taking my first few bites: Game Stop – Halo: Reach

It is a promotion to pre-order one of the most highly-anticipated titles in the video game world through Game Stop. If you pre-order, you get exclusive, multi-threat armor. Multi-threat armor. Again for the nosebleed seats… multi-threat armor.

My initial reaction of a raised eyebrow of confusion/bubble over my head: “seriously?” changed when I thought of Reach as a metaphor. By the end of the Game Stop promo video, I understood. If you really think about it, sometimes… on the job or in life… life changes so drastically, one needs multi-threat armor to cope or fend off the bad guys, the bad times, and the hardest challenges one faces (e.g. family illness, job loss, etc.). After all, we are in the middle of an economic downturn that is unique in many ways, and many of us just don’t know how to predict what will happen…what to expect.

Would it be such a bad idea to have multi-threat armor right now? Anyone? Bueller? What does that look like? For me, it’s entertainment like Mad Men, my yoga practice, the dog, growing my own herbs and cooking from them, and of course, my husband. That’s my multi-threat armor. What’s yours? If you can’t think of anything right away… maybe Game Stop can help. We all need a little multi-threat armor now and then.

Lost in LOST.

In dinner, dog, family, movies, Product, relationship, TV watching on July 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm

We are about to celebrate our one year anniversary, and these days, “date night” is on the couch.  I couldn’t be happier.

Sure, we could pepper our date nights with the following: 1) a movie, 2) restaurants, 3) plans with friends, 4) any number of social events, and 5) salsa dancing (how we met).

However, when work-related events consume lots of social time, you’re a pretty good chefette, and the amount of content on your husband’s Xbox is enough to keep you in the house for weeks on end if you didn’t have a dog to make you go outside (oh and a job), there is a certain part of me that is just happy to be tranquil on the couch.

Right now, we’re watching the final season of LOST.  The only problem is, when you have an entire season at your fingertips, and the show is as good as LOST, it is easy to just keep watching episode after episode.   It dawns on you that you now have more in common with hard core gamers than you ever thought possible: you are in front of the screen for hours, obsessed, and your tranquility is no longer that.

My solution to this current obsession is to do an Xboxbride mash up of sorts:

  • We’ve invited friends over to BBQ and watch fireworks for the 4th of July…
  • …with the promise of my Sweet Corn, Avocado and Truffle salad…
  • and Hot Tub Time Machine (thanks, Zune VM).

I think I can safely say I’ve combined my content obsession with above options 1, 3 & 4 for our holiday date night… #2 as well, because, well, I’ve been told my corn salad is restaurant quality.  😉

(Note to self:  Plan salsa for next week.)

By the way, I finished six seasons of The Hills in a just a few weeks.  Seriously, I do get out, though.

Ganesha Girl Likes Kid Games

In dog, family, gaming, movies, Product, relationship, travel on June 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

The other day I saw the promotion for the Toy Story 3 video game.

“OOO. Honey, can you get that for me?”  (I found myself saying this before the promotion was even over.)

Laughter from the husband.

“I love you!” (this is him – clearly my once-every-so-often interest in certain games makes him happy and helps us bond in his gamer world)

One day after I made this request, TS3, the game, is in my house.   Can’t wait.  We’re going to see the movie this afternoon before I dig in.

My Short “Kid Game” History:

I became one with the couch to master the Panda Quake in”Kung Fu Panda”  See post: A new decade.  Another day of Kung Fu Panda, Jan. 2010.

I delighted over the adorable interaction between Russell, Mr. Fredrickson and the ability to dig and swim as Doug in “Up”.

Fable 2 obsession was locked in because of my ability to travel all over the place with my dog… which I kind of do in real life anyway.  See:  Let’s Disco.  I have Inferno Level 5 and I got a dog.  A fable dog.

What’s My Deal With Major Nelson?

In dinner, family, Major Nelson, relationship, TV watching on June 25, 2010 at 5:22 am

I am making dinner.  Pasta Bolognese.  Richard’s favorite.   I am pairing it with a butter lettuce and radicchio salad with balsamic vinaigrette, as I am trying to get my husband to eat more in the vegetable category beyond tomatoes and potatoes.

“Oh, by the way…”  (this is him, from the living room)  “I saw Major Nelson today.”

I reduce the stovetop fan level for noise control and stop stirring the sauce with my slotted spoon.

“Wait a minute.  I have to hear this.” (this is me)   “What happened?”

“I saw him in the parking lot… I saw him the other day actually.  I asked him how he got started.”

“And..?”  This is normal.  Richard never gives the whole report.  I have to drag it out of him.

“I told him that you’re rarely star struck, but that when you saw him you were excited.”

“And what did he say?” (me again)

“He laughed.  He also told me he had something like 15 years in broadcast.”

Aha.  Major Nelson and I are brethren alumni of the broadcast world.  It makes sense now:  my spidey sense tingled with familiarity each time I saw him on Live.

I look him up on Wikipedia (I know, why didn’t I think of this before-duh).

Many more ahas later, I decide I need to pursue an interview with his wife. She is the perfect person to answer questions about being married to this culture of Xbox.