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The Unapologetic Geek

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15 Things I Learned in 2015 - Page 3

I hate the word "miscellaneous." It's hard to spell, doesn't roll off the tongue easily, and feels like a fancy word for whatever's left at the bottom of your cup after you drink a Mocha Frappachino from Starbucks. Besides, things like video games, home ownership, and parenting don't belong under such a heading, so instead of calling this section the "miscellaneous" section, I'll instead say the following things are other important parts of my life deserving of attention in 2015.

I Can't Get Sick of Zelda

Skyward Sword
I'll still play them all again

I spent about a year playing each and every core title in the Legend of Zelda games, which finished up in early Fall of 2015. That's fifteen games by my count, which means I played more than one game from beginning to end every single month, while simultaneously continuing to feed my gaming addiction with more recent games. If ever there would come a time where I'd finally tire of these games and stop thinking of them as the greatest video games ever conceived by Man, it would have been last year. But nope, I never got tired of playing Zelda. I've even thought about writing a book about the experience. That's either a testament to how incredible those games are, or it's a testament to how insane I've become.

Being a Homeowner is Cool

Poltergeist house
If we're lucky, it was built on top of some graves and we'll get some sweet furniture olympics going in the kitchen

In 2015, we finally bought a house. We've never been stable enough in any one place to even really consider it before, but this year, we put our signatures down, got the mortgage, and moved in to a nifty little split-level home in the suburbs south of St. Louis. The pros and cons of home ownership aren't mysterious--you can do whatever you want to the property (within reason), but if something breaks, you have to fix it; you don't have to walk to the dumpster every day to take out the trash; you don't have to worry about noisy neighbors upstairs or through the walls; if life throws you a curveball, it's much harder to pick up and move somewhere else; etc., etc., etc.--but I was surprised by how much I've enjoyed the reality of it. Even some things I was dreading, like mowing the lawn, have been things I've learned to enjoy. But the biggest reward is just psychological. This is our house. We own it. That's awesome.

Vegetable Gardening is Doable

Tommy gardening
I'm already training my assistant

So we bought the house knowing that, in the backyard, there's a small, neglected, and overgrown vegetable garden. I got to thinking about it, and decided to my own surprise that I wanted to turn it around and grow vegetables in it. I did a little research, bought a couple of books, and before we had even moved into the house, I was drawing up plans on graph paper for where I was going to build the bean trellis and how I was going to move the water supply from the house to make it closer to the garden. I've been downright obsessed with this idea, and it's a hobby I never would have thought I was capable of being interested in, much less willingly taking up. Now, I haven't actually finished building the garden yet (and it's the middle of winter at the moment, so I can't exactly start growing things for at least another month), so maybe I'll get sick of it once I start with the actual gardening, but I doubt it. Check back next year to see!

I Still Love Las Vegas

Las Vegas 2015
We have to go back

My wife and I went to Las Vegas for a week for our ten-year anniversary, to relive our Honeymoon. I won't say a lot about the trip itself, but sufficed to say, Las Vegas is just as amazing today as it was ten years ago. It's a city-wide playground for adults, and I don't think I could ever get sick of visiting it. I'd never want to live there, but I am already planning what we should (and shouldn't) do next time we go.

Gaming Must Be Genetic

Tommy playing Mario Maker
I'm so proud

Early in 2015, my son became transfixed by an iOS game called Snuggle Truck. It's not a very good game--it's glitchy, shoddily designed, and not very interesting--but it does have one feature that he quickly grew to love: you can design your own tracks. When I was six years old, I got my first Nintendo, and the first game I was ever addicted to was Excitebike. Like Snuggle Truck, it's not a terribly sophisticated game, but it does have a track editor, which is what got me hooked. Over my lifelong journey in gaming, I've always had a soft spot for games that let you design your own levels. I am still proud of a Descent level I created once that actually used four spatial dimensions. So, watching my son get endless thrills out of designing tracks for a racing video game, it was impossible for me not to well up with fatherly pride (or should that be shame?) that he was a gamer just like me.

In November, his grandmother bought him Super Mario Maker, a game that lets you design your own Super Mario levels. Let's just say, he'd rather play Super Mario Maker than eat, sleep, or do anything that isn't playing Super Mario Maker. (And don't even get me started on Minecraft.) I'll watch him there with the Wii-U controller in his hands as he creates some sadistic level that drops Yoshi into a sea of spikes and winged fireballs, and I'll almost well up in tears, right before I grab my PS4 controller, turn on the TV, and lean back in my recliner.

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-e. magill 1/13/2016

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  • 14 Things I Learned in 2014