Friday, November 28, 2014

Family and Black Friday

Outside of my mother, my family lives outside of Chicago. Every now and again, sometimes for no reason, my mom and I visit her brother and wife in semi-nearby Teagarden. It's under a two hour drive and we usually stop at one of the various rest stops and pick up some coffee and baked goods or something of that nature.

Yesterday's trip was no different. We made it out there in great time. The traffic was minimal on the way out. We did have a slight problem in that there are new roads that make the trip a little different. At one point as we pulled off of I think it was 31, we saw a mound of ravens. As the car drew closer, that ravens scattered to the skies and under them lay a dead deer. It had seen better days.

While that might have been a grim reminder of mortality and the dangers of animal crossings and interaction with humans, it was very visually impressive. Sorry if that sounds morbid but I'd never seen something of that nature so up close before with the crows and it was striking.

The traffic was even better on the return trip although there were no macabre sights.. While there was a slight amount of snow on the way out, it was clear sailing on the way in.

It was good to visit with my uncle.

I jokingly call him the Great Bear Hunter.

Like many people his age, in this case 78, he's done a lot. He is still at this moment doing things. This includes doing charity work as well as farming.  This includes pruning trees, making his own maple syrup from trees, growing potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and pepper in addition to a variety of fruit.

I don't know where he gets the energy. He is a boundless machine always on the move and always onto something. For example, he has bird feeders and I managed to snag a picture of a woodpecker. We have them in Chicago but it's rare that one is essentially an outstretched arm away.

His wife Barbara, doesn't tell as many good stories but she is a great cook. The food we enjoyed was simple well prepared and in huge portions. It included all of the 'standard' fare such as turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce (home made)

 and other goods that I've probably not given a proper nod to like the deviled eggs, which I don't eat.

All in all, it was a very pleasant time. My mom enjoyed herself greatly and that makes my own life much easier.

My own contributions were even more simple. I brought over a variety pack of Red Hook. My uncle was very pleased with it. Apparently he is a fan of ales which despite knowing him my whole life, I've never realized. Here he is "This is a hell of a beer." If only everyone was so easy to please.

My mom joked that she had spent all morning on baking this cake. It's a Sam's Club Cake. While Wal-Mart and the Waltons may be terrible people in what they do to the economy and people's lives, they make a damn fine cake.
I could feel my blood crystallizing to sugar as I ate it. It also reminded me to bring my own coffee for Barb's coffee machine. I don't know what brand or type they use but it is some of the worst coffee I've ever had. I keep pouring milk into it to give it some saving grace and by the time I was done, was drinking milk instead of coffee.

When I got home last night, I saw that Microsoft was doing a fantastic giveaway of music on their X-Box Music app. To get the deals though, you had to download the Music Deal App. Which when you clicked on the music, took you back to the Music App. Every time.

You suck Microsoft. Seriously ,that's just terrible design.

But thanks for the free music. You're okay in that venue at least. Some great stuff there and some stuff that I already owned, but remastered and expanded and deluxe versions. Good stuff and the price was awesome. Some stuff I also would never buy, like numerous country albums, but my mom is a huge fan and so burned onto CD for her!

I did burn through my blank's though/ Between my mom and me, while I appreciate the cloud and keeping everything there, I like to have physical media as a backup. So I ordered some blanks from Amazon. Officemax had them cheaper but then you had to pay tax and a good chunk for shipping and handling.

I then saw Amazon had a coupon for 30% off any book (code HOLIDAY30).  Since I'm a prime member, I had to decide if I was going to get anything. I narrowed it down between two books. One for 'fun' the other for gaming. The one for gaming is Inner Sea Gods for Pathfinder. I'm more interested in the background stuff. Some of the gods are fun and have analogs in traditional fantasy roles like Gorum for Tempus from Forgotten Realms. 

The other one I'm looking at is The Italian Wars 1494-1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe. The KINDLE book is over $25 so with the 30% off, the physical book is probably a better deal. I freely admit that this is due to watching the two different Borgia series.

I went with Inner Sea Gods. Bad gamer! Then again, I'm running some Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition using the Pathfinder setting. I wanted a different set from Forgotten Realms. If you love what Wizards of the Coast has done with the setting, great. I hate it. If I ever ran Forgotten Realms again, it'd probably be with the setting pre-4th edition.

I also saw an author note that a compendium of five books, The Nameless Dwarf, was on sale for 99 cents in kindle format. How can you beat 99 cents for five books? They would have to be almost comedically bad to not get value out of that.

I'm probably going to check out Half Priced Books later on today and hit up the Microsoft Music store again. Usually Amazon with their various deals on Black Friday, has some great sales but this year both Google and Microsoft soundly beat them in pricing. 

Anyone else pick up anything great? Anyone take advantage of any of the various sales going on for the specialty items and things gamers love that usually don't hit the mainstream? 

Regardless of what else happens, have a great day!