January 31, 2009: Linnea Comes to Visit

Liesl has very visibly matured today.  It is a wondrous thing to watch a child at this age because every day brings something new and exciting.  This morning Liesl began “talking” far more than she has been doing up until now.  She has been “talking” a little for some time now but it has been just an occassional part of her interactions with us.  Today she began really acknowledging us when we talk and responding with her own sounds.  He looks right at you and acts just like she is talking like a normal person, but without knowing her words at all.  It is so adorable.  I didn’t think that she would be doing this type of reaction to us so soon.

This evening, while I was playing with Liesl, she did a whole new range of facial expressions!  Tonight was the first time that I have noticed her using her eyebrows intentionally.  It so cute when she sits in your lap and looks you in the face and makes faces at you.

It’s Saturday and, as usual, I was up at seven thirty so that I could head on down into the dungeon and get to work.  The sun is out today and it is shining brightly.  It is nice to have some serious sunlight.  Now that we have the palm tree and the spiky tree thing in the nursery where there is more light than anywhere else in the house I get to go in there every morning and open up the blinds.  Just doing that easily more than doubles the total amount of natural light coming into the upstairs of the house and makes the house feel so much more open.

I worked for just a few hours this morning down in the basement.  Then I came up and while Dominica and Liesl were still asleep I fired up the XBOX 360 and popped in Fable: The Lost Chapters and played as much as I could while I was alone with Oreo.  I managed to go back and complete the “Rescue the Traders” mission that I had been in the midst of several days ago when the 360 got left on all day and went to sleep effectively causing me to die mid-mission.  I went back to the beginning of the game and completed the Beardy Baldy quest that I had skipped there as well, although after having done it I kind of wish that I had just skipped it altogether.  It was boring and silly.  I even managed to move forward and complete the “Kill the White Balverine” quest which is not a side-quest like the others but is one of the main plot points of the game.  It has been a while since I was able to actually advance the main storyline.  It was not a lot of time that I got to play today but I really appreciated it.

My big project for today is getting Windows Server 2003 installed onto a fully virtualized Xen host.  Doing this is harder than it sounds because my host environment is a completely graphics-free Red Hat Linux host so I am not able to simply fire up the virtual machine and connect locally using a VNC client.  I have to access the VNC data remotely which is a bit of a pain for several reasons.  The first big pain is that our Internet access went down for a little while yesterday (most likely due to weather conditions) and our IPSec VPN went down that connects me to the server on which I have been working and the connections has been unable to reestablish itself in the mean time so I am stuck creating all kinds of troublesome workarounds to attempt to connect to this server so that I may continue to work.

We did some quick cleaning around the house today including dishes, kitchen cleaning and vacuuming.  Linnea drove up from White Plains this afternoon and arrived around two in the afternoon.  This is Linnea’s first trip to Peekskill to visit us and see the new house and to meet little Liesl.

We all hung out at the house for a few hours and then decided to go out to Pastel’s in the Beach Shopping Center for dinner.  They are starting to know Liesl down there.  It is hard not to be famous when you are so cute.

Linnea left Peekskill around eight or so.  I was not watching the clock very closely.  After she left I did some searching around the house to attempt to find the gear necessary for Dominica to be able to play GameCube games on the Nintendo Wii, but all that I was able to find was the controller itself and not the wireless dongle or the memory card.  They are probably packed away somewhere with the missing XBOX 360 controller that we have not yet been able to find either.

So Dominica was not able to play GameCube games like she had wanted to be able to do tonight (she was thinking about starting The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords Adventures) and instead spent the evening playing Paper Mario on the Wii’s Virtual Console.  She is a long way through Paper Mario and it would be really nice if she was able to complete it sometime soon.  If she got another night like tonight in which she was able to play with several hours I would not be surprised if she was able to beat the game.

Paper Mario is actually the second game in a series.  The first game is Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars from the SNES.  That game is by far the most famous and most classic.  It was an isometric 3D game from the late SNES era that was extremely popular as an adventure/JRPG crossover.  Then Paper Mario, which Dominica is playing, came out for the Nintendo 64 introducing true 3D environments and changing the game from a classic isometric view with traditionally designed, sprite-based characters and going with the now-standard 2D “paper” characters in the 3D world.  Following the first Paper Mario was Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door for the GameCube (which we also own for Dominica to play once she completes this one.)  And finally, Super Paper Mario is currently available for the Nintendo Wii.  Like most Nintendo-published games claiming to be an RPG, the Paper Mario series is actually a series of adventure games and do not qualify as either true RPGs or JRPGs.

I spent my evening attempting to figure out the remote VNC viewer issues that I am facing with installing Windows Server 2003 onto a Red Hat Linux (RHEL) Xen installation without any local graphical environment.  I finally decided to give up at half past midnight and to focus on getting Sheep Guarding Llama caught up instead.  I have been behind so much recently that I really wanted to get completely caught up so that tomorrow morning I can begin working on tomorrow’s post instead of doing today’s.

Tomorrow, Sunday, Dominica and I get to just stay home for the day.  We have nothing planned other than a short software demo that I need to watch around noon and some light grocery shopping that Dominica is considering doing at some point when Liesl goes to sleep.  Not that it matters much if Liesl falls asleep because she will be wide awake and screaming the instant that Dominica steps out of the door leaving me to deal with a very unhappy baby whom I am completely unable to console until minutes before Dominica arrives back home making it look like she has been asleep the entire time.

I did get a very short chance to play a little bit of Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen today.  I am just over one hour into the game at this point.  So far I am very impressed with it as a title from the 16-bit Super Nintendo era.  The graphics on this new Nintendo DS port are really nice.  Square Enix has done a very good job with making the game feel both modern and up-to-date without sacrificing the feel and style of the original games.  What they have done is a really innovative blend of rendered three-dimensional backgrounds with traditional two-dimensional sprites for the characters in the game.  The result works far better than it sounds to explain.  Since this is an “update” of a classic title, this effect really works well.  I don’t know if I would recommend the approach for a new game being made from the ground up, but it works so well in DQ4 that I might consider it if I was designing a new game like this for a portable platform like the DS.

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride releases in mid-February this year so I don’t have very much time to complete DQ4 if I am to have it finished before DQ5 releases.  Also releasing this month, on the 20th, is The Sims 3 which looks to be pretty interesting.  It makes me wish that we had a nice gaming PC on which to play it since it is a style of game that the console systems cannot handle at all.

Releasing soon on the Nintendo DS is Dragon Quest IX which is being made by Level 5 who made Dragon Quest VIII for the Sony PS2 which currently ranks as my favourite game ever.  Just a few weeks ago it was officially announced that Square Enix had decided to make Dragon Quest X for the Nintendo Wii.  It will likely be quite some time before we even have a release schedule on that title.  I am very hopeful that Level 5 will be involved and that the gorgeous cell-shading used in DQ8 and Dragon Quest Swords will be carried through onto this latest title.  If we are really lucky the game will not be simplified like DQS was and the full gameplay of the traditional series will be maintained for this latest title.  Having it targetted for the Wii worries me that Square Enix will decide to eschew their traditional, high-quality game play in exchange for the gimmicks so popular for games being made for the Wii.

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