(Not So) Patiently Waiting - Day 2

On the way into work this morning I decided to call Fry's to see if they had the Red Nintendo DS / Mario Kart bundle in stock. Still no joy. After lunch, a couple coworkers and I dropped in. The clerk said that he expected the shipment in any minute, but that he hadn't seen it yet. He recommended that I call around 4pm to get an update. On the way home from work, I gave them another call. The units were definitely shipped and on their way, but would not be in until tomorrow or Thursday. The one good thing about this waiting is that I have motivated myself to get as much gaming goodness out of the games that I have now before I start playing the new system. There are several games around the house that I either lost interest in, got stuck on a difficult mission, or for one reason or another just didn't finish. I'm going back to those games now in an effort to eke that last bit of fun out of those games before I dive headlong into Nintendo DS ownership :-D

(Not So) Patiently Waiting

So today was supposed to be the day. 11/28. The launch day for both the Red Nintendo DS / Mario Kart DS bundle
and the game Mario & Luigi : Partners in Time. I set my alarm a couple of minutes early, and like a kid on Christmas
I rushed through my morning routine. I rush through my morning routine every morning, though, so this wasn't much of
a change. In any case, a quick kiss for both my cutie pies, and I slipped out the door.

Traffic was no problem, as I easily cruised into the Frys parking lot. Lots of cars were there, but evidently only
employees as they were parked in far spaces. I settled into the very front-most parking space and strode into the
store with growing sense of anticipation. I had to hold myself back from dashing to the video game section.

As I entered the video game area (aka Adam's slice o' heaven), an employee asked if he could help. "Yes!", I said,
"Do you have the Red Nintendo DS?". I could hear A Christmas Story in the background and thought that my eagerness
must be much like a certain little boy's delight in dreaming about a Red Rider BB Gun. How ironic that we both
want something red.

Tragedy! The Red DS is nowhere to be seen. Only one titanium DS sits lonely on the shelf. The employee says he
will be back with someone from customer service. The customer serviceman tells me that, while today is in fact the
launch day, they usually don't receive their first shipment for one or two days. My heart sank. The same was true
for the Mario & Luigi game. He recommended that I call back around 4pm to see if they have an updated estimate of
when they will get some in stock.

Dejected, I glanced around at the games on the shelf. Sure, I could use my gift certificates for an XBox, GameCube,
or GBA game to play tonight, but my heart was set on that shiny new Red DS. I noticed that a copy of Advance Wars :
Dual Strike was on the shelf, and it was one of the games on my list to get for the DS.

New Hope! Maybe I can buy this game with my gift certificate and get cash back. Maybe some other store in Indy
will have the red DS today, and I can use that cash to pick it up. With renewed spirit, I approach the cash register.
As anyone who has ever been to Frys knows, the people at the register are usually on work release from some mental
hospital. After consultation with three "managers" and a well deserved beating of the printer beside her, the cashier
rang up my order. To my dismay, I didn't get cash back, but a new receipt which indicated my gift certificate balance.
Shoulders hunched, I trudged out of the store. Even the tires on my car looked deflated as I glumly returned to work.

So I here I sit, staring at my new game that I have no way to play. I've read the instruction manual... twice. The
game cartridge itself is pretty cool. It is about the size of a postage stame, and as thick as two stacked quarters.
The shape of it reminds me of the SD memory card we use in our digital camera, and in my PDA. Oh, how I wish I could
play that game. I suppose at 4pm I'll call and see if I can get an update on when the Red DS will be available.

My "Launch Day Camping"

I started the last post because I plan to do my own version of "Launch Day Camping" on November 28th. For my birthday, I received some really fantastic stuff. I got a great book, a really cool game, and gift certificates to Frys. I decided I'd use them to get a Nintendo DS and Mario Kart for the system. Mario Kart DS works over the internet to allow you to play against people all over the world. The Nintendo DS is a handheld gaming system like the gameboy, and it has built-in wireless networking, two screens, and a touch-pad. I was all set to go to Frys to pick up my toys when I read that on 11/28, Nintendo is releasing a special Mario Kart / Nintendo DS bundle. A special red colored Nintendo DS will be bundled with the Mario Kart game at a reduced price. Last time I was in at Frys, I asked one of the clerks if they would have it, and he assured me that they would on Nov. 28th. I won't be sleeping on the curb, but I will definitely pop into the Frys on my way to work next Monday to see if I can get myself some fresh gaming goodness. I'm so excited!!!

Launch Day Camping

The big news in the video game world today is the release of the XBox 360 video gaming system. It's not really news, the launch day has been known for a while now, but the press is giving it plenty of coverage. One reason is that there appears to be a shortage of units. Whether this is a real shortage or a clever marketing ploy to drum up excitement is unclear, but the end result is that video game fans are clamoring to get their mitts on a 360. I've read several blog posts from folks who spent all of 11/21 (day before launch) researching which stores were getting units, how many, and where to line up to get one when the stores opened on 11/22. Some stores had midnight openings, while others maintained regular hours. Much like the stories of people camping in line for first showings of Star Wars, XBox 360 customers were lining up in the evening to endure long hours of waiting. And not all of the campers got their new toy. Most stores were supplied with either 10 or 40 units. There are two packages, the core system (the game system and one controller), and the premium package (includes a wireless controller, hard drive, high definition package, headset, and other goodies). The core package runs $300, and the premium package a cool $400. It gets worse though. Some vendors won't sell just the console, but sell "bundles". The bundles add a couple of games to the package, and maybe an extra face-plate, and jack the price up several hundred dollars. Gamestop has one of the most egregious examples with their Omega Bundle: $2000!!!!
Limit one per customer of course.

It doesn't look like the situation is going to get much better either. Many retailers won't receive enough units to even satisfy their pre-order commitments before Christmas. Savvy buyers lucky enough to actually own a system are going to be mighty tempted to turn around and sell it on eBay. I just saw an auction for one of the core systems (retail $300 remember) going for $1,200!!! Let's say you did the hard footwork and stood in line for 8 hours to get that core system. If you can sell it for $1,200, that means you got paid $112.50 an hour to stand there. That's some good pay for standing around. Of course, someone else figured that out too and started a "rent-a-camper" service. You paid the camper $X an hour to stand in line to get your XBox. Good grief.

Personally, I'm not all that excited about the new system. By all accounts, it is visually impressive, but a lot of reviews say it isn't enough to warrant forking over the dollars to upgrade. The games available right now aren't receiving a lot of great press either. In fact, the folks over at Joystiq had more fun playing the old-timey arcade games on the XBox Live service than they did the new titles. I'm satisified to wait until the price comes down and more interesting games come out before I want one.

Books and Bookcases

Jenn likes to chide me about how I'm a packrat. I don't like to pitch things, no matter how little possible utility
they might have. I hang onto receipts way longer than I need to, I keep boxes for just about anything we buy,
and I have every bill and bank statement I've ever received in a cabinet in the basement. I have all of my college
notes, and who knows what else stowed away in boxes and closets throughout the house. Recently, I started to purge.
Jenn was right, I really didn't need all of that stuff, and it was just taking up space. I don't want to move it
if it will just sit in another corner, so out it goes. All of the old PC equipment, drives, and spare parts are
gone. I got rid of a lot of notes and documentation that had lost relevance.

One particular point of contention that I'm not budging on are my books. This spring we got two more bookcases
for the basement to help organize all of my books. I never throw away a book. I still have all of my books from
college. I have almost all of the fiction I've read since college (my books before college were sold in a garage
sale when my parents moved to Germany). Some of my books have walked away as I loaned them to friends to read, and
just never got around to getting them back. That doesn't bother me, I'm glad someone else is enjoying them. Books
have a special meaning to me though, and that is why I can't bring myself to just throw them away, even if I never
will use "Fundamentals of Corporate Accounting" again. Books to me are icons of my knowledge, trophies of my
education, and a signal to others of who I am. The books I've read define my background, both academically and
in my personality. Every bookcase filled is an accomplishment that I look at and fill with a sense of pride and
accomplishment. I secretly hope that when folks glance over, that some conversation springs up over what is sitting
on the shelf.

I may have several hundreds of pounds of books at home to move, but I'll move them without complaint. My books
are special to me, and I don't mind the extra burden of moving them with us each time we move. I've moved some of the
more technical books into my cube at work. They might actually get used here, and if not, I'm more likely to run into
someone that would be interested in glancing through one. The rest I'll move with us when we get into the new house.
Even if my books only collect dust, I'm glad their with me.

Jade Mason