Kinecting With Friends

I just cancelled my gym membership.

It was a nice place, only a half mile from my house and never crowded when I went. It had everything I wanted in a gym, but it turns out so does my living room. Ever since buying EA Sports Active 2 for the Xbox Kinect, that is. But more about that later...

We arrived home from my sister's wedding in New Jersey to find the Kinect bundle on the front porch and a copy of Harmonix's Dance Central in the mailbox. Yes, the same Harmonix that birthed the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises. Nevermind the lingering hangover, the cross-country flight, and onset of one of the worst head colds I've had in years, I rushed downstairs the following morning like a child on Christmas morning and immediately connected the Kinect sensor and booted up the packed-in Kinect Adventures title.

Setting the sensor up was a breeze. I had read plenty of tips in the weeks leading up to the Kinect launch about lighting conditions and space requirements and was ever thankful for our house's large open floorplan. I shoved the couch back about 6 feet towards the kitchen, turned on all the lights behind me and was immediately detected in the "best" position for Kinect enjoyment. Kinect Adventures delivers a wonderful first impression of the technology. The disc includes a half-dozen different mini-games that seem designed to show off the Kinect's ability to track your skeleton in three-dimensional space. The games themselves lose their appeal quickly (only Achievement hunters and small children need apply), but as a tech-demo, it does its job admirably. I was at once impressed with the sensor's ability to not only track my hands and feet forward, but my head as well. And the game's ability to take random snapshots of you while playing and then upload (with your permission) Polaroid-like memories to a central website is a bit of genius.

Yours truly jumping for coins during the river rafting game.

RG Lives On

Randomly Generated is back online. My ego can only hope this hiatus was that much harder for you than me.

As you can see, I've given the ol' blog a pretty drastic makeover with the help of Blogspot's new (and occasionally maddening) controls. For starters, I've created a handful of standalone pages linked directly below my mugshot that I will update when necessary. These are to give the blog a more informative touch and to make it easier to show essays or photos or whathaveyou that I'm particularly fond of. There's some other cosmetic changes as well, but the biggest change from the old RG to the new one will the be in the type and quantity of posts that I'll be making. I was averaging over 35 posts per month for quite a while, a pace that is not only too time-consuming to maintain, but one that doesn't allow for much selectivity. I'll be ratcheting back the posting frequency to just one or two entries per week, hopefully of substance. No promises though.

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new look. And, as always, thanks for reading.

The Big Trip... By Bikes?

I wrote three years ago that Kristin and I had made a handshake agreement about seriously, honestly, beginning the process of planning and saving for a trip around the world. A mid-life gap year, if you will. The plan was rather humble at first, at least as far as these round-the-world (RTW) trips tend to go. We'd beg for sabbaticals from work, lease our house, sell one of our cars. And we'd head off on a ferry to Alaska, then train and plane our way eastward around the world. At least that was the initial plan the morning after that talk when I posted this.

The plan has grown since then. Three years have passed since we promised each other that we would not allow our years to bleed into one another in an endless series of indistinguishable workweeks. Three years and rarely has a week gone by that we haven't talked about the trip; nary a day that I hadn't daydreamed about it, or a night spent researching and planning our route. We're still several years away, but much progress has been made towards making our shared dream a reality. Since the online journals and blogs of those who've gone before us have proven to be an invaluable source of inspiration and information, I want to dedicate this page to our own efforts and plans in hopes that it may provide a small amount of assistance to those curious enough to read this entry.