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Weekend In The Garden

Vickie and I are making progress in getting the garden in better shape. This weekend was intended to be a big blitz, but soaring temperatures at midday gave us baking afternoons, so we've had to get as much done in the morning and evening as we could. That's been quite a bit, thankfully; we've dug up some roots that were interrupting our sewage line, turned the soil in the vege patch over, cleared away a lot of debris (Vickie especially went gangbusters on the fallen leaves).

Of course, I had fewer diversions to distract me. My Xbox 360 has finally packed it in; on Friday night, whilst playing Mass Effect, it froze up, and when I powered it off and on again, the dreaded Red Ring of Death appeared on its front panel. Repeated attempts to resurrect it on Saturday were fruitless, so I called Customer Support this morning and am waiting on the e-mail from them so I can send it in. Actually, if the e-mail doesn't turn up by tomorrow morning I can probably get away with sending it in early; I have the form from last time and the current call log number. Still, best to wait; Microsoft might've changed its contracted repairer in the meantime.

The latest really annoying thing was that today is Karl's birthday, and I was planning to take my 360 over his place, network it to his Elite and have some multiplayer Halo 3 and Burnout Revenge action. So much for that.

Other computer-related efforts have been more fruitful. I finally managed to get the wireless function of our network router running properly here. At first I thought we'd need a range extender, but it turns out that all we needed was to get the router off the metal surface it was resting on and elevated a couple of feet higher than it was. Right now, Vickie's and Deena's laptops are communicating with the network all the way out to our backyard without the need for Cat5 cables. The Wii worked for a little bit, but I think I need to fossick with its settings again, so Hayama, as soon as I get it operating properly I'll send you my Wii Number.

Also, with Halo 3 not an option for another couple of weeks, I've been getting my online multiplayer fix from a game called Team Fortress 2. If you're into computer games, you've probably known this one as a member of that rarefied vapourware league that includes (and is still championed by) Duke Nukem Forever, but after nine (or is that eleven?) years of development I'm happy to say that those Valve lads have produced a damn fun game. Granted, I'd still prefer to be playing Halo 3, especially as I know absolutely no one in real life who has TF2 as well - but then again, Halo 3 doesn't have one-eyed, black, Scottish demolitions experts who swig from bottles of hooch, nor giant bald Russians toting miniguns.

Actually going about purchasing the game was an interesting process. The only way to buy Team Fortress 2 in stores is as part of the five-game package called The Orange Box. There are a few off-putting thoughts, though. For starters, The Orange Box is $100, and splurging that much on games is hard to justify this side of Christmas. Secondly, having never finished the original Half-Life, I really wasn't interested in Half-Life 2 and its attendant episodes. Thirdly, although all reports say Portal is all kinds of quirky fun, I can easily go without it. So instead, I signed up for Valve's online delivery service, Steam, and downloaded it for a mere AU$34.00. It's definitely been worth the money! I'm getting pretty good with both the Demoman and Medic roles. Check out the stats!

Oh, and speaking of garden work, it was with not a little relish that I finally got rid of my moustache on Friday night. I feel so much better, and all you folks who reckoned I ought to have kept it can grow one of your own, especially the women!

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