I’ve worked in downtown Nashville for coming up on two years now. It is lively and entertaining and, despite the commute, I really like it. One of the reasons for that is the cast of characters you see on the streets. Right outside my office, there are at least two barkers trying to lure the tourists into either B.B. Kings or Coyote Ugly. On slow days, the Hooters girls will hula hoop on the sidewalk to bring the folks in for bad food served with a side of cleavage.
There is this one guy who I see occasionally. He’s old, in a wheelchair, and plays an acoustic guitar for change. He’s pretty good, too. He’s been down here forever, as far as I can tell. I have stopped to listen and throw a few coins in his bucket. When my friend Mitch came downtown for lunch (having recently moved back to Nashville from points north) he mentioned that this guy was down here playing back when Mitch was haunting 2nd Avenue the first time.
I haven’t seen him in a few weeks and it turns out there’s a reason. The Tennessean ran his obituary today. It seems he’s been performing on 2nd for change for 30 years. A rash of robberies (including his van he used to sleep in) prompted a police officer to help him get into housing and get some health care. I was glad to read he didn’t die alone on some street corner.
I was also glad to see that he was deemed newsworthy enough for a profile in the paper.
I have withdrawn from the media coverage of the healthcare bill. We’re getting to the point where it just makes me angry and I’ve come to terms with the notion that whatever passes will be awful and that the Democrats are stupid and unable to effectively use their majority status, which still makes them only slightly better than Republicans who have truly become the party of “No!”
Maybe it would have gone better if we’d declared war on something – the war on illness, the war on medical bankruptcy, the war on pre-existing conditions – I’m just spitballing here. The right never seems to question war funding and Republican presidents have a history of declaring war on things that don’t have an army to fight.
Started a new video game over the weekend. DragonAge Origins is Bioware’s new “Dark Epic Fantasy.” I’ve bought nearly every console game that Bioware has produced. I babbled at my friends about how cool Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was. Jade Empire was equally fun (if short). Elder Scrolls: Oblivion took several years before I’d completed it. I’ve played through Mass Effect three times, including exploring all the planets.
So I have high hopes for this one. I don’t buy a lot of games, so anything I buy has to have replayability. Otherwise I’ll rent it or borrow it. DragonAge looks to have that quality. So far, the story has been engaging, but the fight mechanics are a little hard to get used to. I get this feeling that I’m going to run across some shortcut command once I’m 20 or more hours into the story that’s going to be a facepalm moment as I realize how much easier it would have made the earlier chapters.
This happened in Mass Effect twice. Once when I realized the vehicle they give you to explore the surface of planets had a big cannon on it (I’d been making do with the machine guns) and the second was when I figured out that the same vehicle had a sniper scope on the cannon (meaning I could get better shots on enemy positions).
DragonAge represents (at least for me, anyway) another step in videogame delivery. Buying the disc new meant you got a code good for unlocking a character that those who rent the game will not see. It also came with a code that will give you a set of armor to use in Mass Effect 2, which is due next year. Finally, certain quests that pop up during conversations will have a response option that includes downloading additional content (for additional money).
I like the downloadable content model being used by a lot of games lately. It keeps the cost of the initial game down somewhat and offers the designers a chance to have users provide feedback about what they want to see. If you like the game, you can extend it by a few hours for another ten bucks. If you don’t like the game, then you aren’t saddled with paying for content you have no interest in.
It’s a good system.
What I don’t get are the people who play sports titles and buy what is essentially the same game every year with only minor changes. Is Madden 09 that much different from Madden 08? Wouldn’t a downloadable roster update make more sense? For the player, yes. For EA Sports, not so much, I guess.
This morning on the way to work I kept hearing someone blowing their horn. I checked each time to make sure it wasn’t me doing something wrong. Then I caught a glimpse of what was going on. It was a sedan in the HOV lane. The driver was blowing his horn at the drivers in front of him who weren’t supposed to be in the lane because they were alone in the vehicle.
He blew his horn at one SUV which moved over into the next lane just in time to keep from being spotted by a State Trooper parked in the median looking for HOV violators.
In Nashville, they don’t patrol the HOV lanes all that often, but when they do, they usually patrol in pairs. Once you spot the first patrol car, you might manage to get into the correct lane before being seen and then move back into the HOV lane once you’re out of sight. That’s when the second patrol car pulls you over.
But this is the first vigilante approach to HOV enforcement. I liked it.