Monday, November 29, 2010


The little quip I wrote in the previous post got me thinkin...yeah, let's do it. Let's build The Breakers in Sims 3.

I have all the graphics options set to HIGH but it still looks very similar to Sims 2, if you ask me. The people (Sims) look a bit more "chunky" and objects now appear to be 3-D modeled in monochrome first, then a "skin" is applied. This allows for endless user-created skins for all sorts of things. And surely, if you check out the Sims Exchange, users have re-colored everything...but it usually looks user-created. Kinda amateurish.

But I digress. Back to my mansion. It's about half furnished and painted, with the exterior completely done. It could use more landscaping, I think...but the original doesn't really have that much in the way of trees and flowers. The "katibo" look of The Breakers is partially achieved through its dramatic positioning in relation to the rocky cliff and ocean below...and that gorgeous back lawn. My version is happily positioned as similarly as I could get.

I've included here a front and back pic, along with a snapshot of the real thing for comparison.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

SCRAPBOOK: New England Memories

Despite the fact I haven't been to New England since the 20th century, this time of year always gets me thinking back to my formative years there and the fond, and sometimes not so fond, memories of that special place. Let's face it, the Holidays and all the nostalgic traditions associated with them pretty much originated here.

So journey with me now, if only through the eyes of other photographers from whom I've stolen. (Actually, I'm getting better at that...these are all labeled "free use" by their respective owners.)

The holiday we just celebrated a few days ago got its purported start here, of course, good ol' Plymouth, Massachusetts. Decades ago when grand marble public monuments were all the rage, some committee decided to erect this edifice around the famous stone. It's kinda weird seeing just a plain ol' bolder in the sand housed and protected by this huge ornate thing. It was built just a few years before the Great Depression. I wonder how many homeless people during that time looked at this and thought "Why can't some committee build simple houses for people rather than a mausoleum for a rock?"

This is also the spot where, a long time ago, I cursed "God" in a display of my firm atheism in front of my Jehovah's Witness boyfriend. Needless to say, that relationship didn't last long.

Winter in New England can be rough, but looking at a picture of the prettily frosted trees isn't. Especially when you're fanning yourself on an 80 degree evening in Florida. Here is North Conway, New Hampshire. Linda, her BF at the time Bill and I went to visit her cousin here many decades ago.

Time to warm up and head over to Lake Champlain, Vermont. Without any real spiritual conviction (but just because it sounded Thoreau-like) I once claimed this region the "land that God kissed" making reference to the geographic shape of the lake which, on a map, looks like an impression giant lips would make. Also, because the area is gorgeous. The verdant green undulating hills surrounding a pristine cobalt lake under a cerulean crystal clear sky. Takes your breath away.

I enjoyed a most pleasant day in this area (albeit the New York side) a few years ago on my way to Montreal.

Here in Florida, and I guess elsewhere in the US where there are lots of farms and orchards and ranches and such, counties annually hold fairs to show off the products and people of the land. New England's counties are merely boundaries on a map so they don't organize fairs, and the states are somewhat small so they all get together and put together a big collaboration known as the Big E.

Part state or county fair and part regional expo, each state contributes to this annual event held in West Springfield, Mass. showcasing their wares at the permanent pavilions and hundreds of pitched tents, roll-away kiosks, fried junk food trailers and trucked in carnival rides.

It's great here though sadly I'd only visited once in the late eighties. More likely, back then, if I was hankerin' for carny atmosphere I'd go closer to home and head on down to Rocky Point.

If I were to plan a "revisiting the old haunts" vacation back to New England, I'd have to include a visit to my favorite of all the Newport mansions. The Breakers, built in the Gilded Age as a summertime "cottage by the sea", epitomises that lost era.

Looking at this shot reminds me of summer walks along Cliffwalk, sailing in the bay, cool jazz concerts on the lawn of Fort Adams State Park, lobster at the Chart House on the Wharf. I wonder if I could recreate this house in Sims 3? I wonder if my graphics card could handle it?

The mid-eighties were all about hanging out in Boston. Small town Rhode Island was too constraining for me, I needed a city to stretch out in. And invariable, many a visit to Beantown included a stop over here.

The place for shopping, eating and getting together with good friends for drinks and merriment. (Yes, I actually had those then, both good friends and merriment!) Fanieul Hall is a bit touristy in hindsight but even though I made my way to the city every weekend at one point, the buzz and energy of the crowd drew me back again and again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh, Hello Blog

Yes, I've been quite neglectful. I wish I could say it was because my life is suddenly so very interesting and fun-filled. Nope. It's just the same old dynamics: endless leisure time thanks to unemployment and newly-acquired video games.

The newest game purchased is actually the oldest of the recent 3. Sims 3 came out about a year ago I guess, but I held off on getting it because I was still handicapped by the crappy on-motherboard video card. When I upgraded that card in August, I forgot to revisit the option of buying Sims 3.

The jury is still out whether it's worth the $40 expense but I guess it's okay. Not stunningly different than Sims 2 but it is a little more fun to actually play. The sims in Sims 2 needed so much micro-management it became tedious and un-fun. I'd gotten to the point where I used the game only as a construction set, building house after house without ever playing with the sims who lived in them.

Of course the new version is a bit heavier on my graphics card and CPU so I don't know if I'll be recreating any grand mansions like I did with Sims 2. It disappointingly came with a scant few objects in its vanilla inventory too. Luckily the version I got came with an expansion pack for free along with free Sim Points to use on the website to buy new objects.

Still playing Civ 5 every now and then as well. I like looking forward to earning achievements on Steam.

Fallout: New Vegas is on hold for now. I got to a point in the game where it isn't so much of a challenge anymore.

Unemployment will continue for another month and a half but I will lose the $25 stimulus bonus or whatever it's called in December. Bummer. BTW, is this how unemployment is designed to work? Exhausting the funds completely and THEN look for a job? I don't think so.

Started seeing a doctor at the free clinic. Not as bad as I thought it would be. It wasn't exactly the swanky designer decorated offices like my former cardiologist's in Heathrow but it's no Appalachian Emergency Room either. Got Metformin back and, most importantly, refilled Lisinopril. Being without that for a week and seeing my BP spike to 177/108 definitely drove home the fact that I'm on these pills for the rest of my life.

Had T-day dinner over at Ric's Thursday. It was alright. Ric's been cordial enough (for Ric that is) but I sense he's going through some of the same feelings about me that I've had, and occasionally still have, about him. We've grown so apart. Our mutual interests are down to practically just the most common like we both breathe oxygen and live on planet Earth.

His mom and sister were down from Indy. Let's just say I don't think either of them care too much for Ric's new roommates. They made a good show of course but I sensed a bit of snobbery on their part. Spending a day with a group of dysfunctional people makes me appreciate the stability and comfort of solitude.

Well, it's been a long night of sitting at the computer so I think I'll turn in. Sun's up and it's gonna be in the 80s again today. I hate Florida sometimes.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Post-Election Day Blues

I went out in the rain yesterday afternoon to go to the church that is my designated poling place (no, amazingly, I didn't burst into flames upon entering the building) and cast my vote. Well, of course I voted Democrat but as we know, a lot of good that did. Not surprisingly, Republicans made giant gains all over. Our Senator-Elect (although the appointed incumbent is actually a Republican so no gain in the ratio overall for the Florida seat) is one of those Tea Party Republicans to beat. He opened his victory speech last night by thanking...yup, you guessed it...God. Oh brother, one of those freaks.

Cali though, gotta hand it to them, they don't step in tune with the rest of the weeble nation, they set the trends, not follow them. They put Jerry Brown back in the Governor's Mansion. Oh baby! You can hardly get more liberal than Jerry Brown! 'Course that was in the 70's, maybe he's bent a bit more to the right in the past few decades. But don't get me wrong, he's not the tax and spend liberal most Republicans revile, he's socially liberal but a down right minimalist when it comes to government spending. Good for California, it's what they need after the past few years of that cigar-puffin', Hummer-drivin', muscle-head Nazi-lovin' Kennedy-cunt lapper. Oh I'm too harsh. I guess 'Ah-nold' wasn't all that bad.

Here in the ol' Sunshine State though, we seem to have elected that Lex Luther wannabe, Rick Scott for Governor, the only one of the four self-made multimillionairs (Whitman for Governor and Fiorina for the Senate in California and McMahon for the Senate in Connecticut, are the losers) to have won yesterday. (There may have been more that could have been defined as "self-made multimillionairs but these 4 made the most news with their high-profile corporate positions, political inexperience and gobs of their own personal millions.)

The saddest loss yesterday though, IMHO, was Alan Grayson. Sadly, I don't live in his, or what was his, district so I couldn't cast my approval vote for this great man who is unabashedly anti-Republican, anti-bullshit. He holds nothing back when talking about the atrocious Bush administration, the Republican resistance to the Heathcare Reform and all other Right Wing Kooks out there. 'Course some would say this "maverick" approach makes him look a bit kooky too. But I love him, and will miss his brand of shoot from the hip statesmanship.

In homage, here's a couple of clips of him, just being himself, and telling it like it is. Alan, we're gonna miss ya!