Even the kid liked it. He otherwise thought the trip to Napa involved far too much walking and other boring stuff.
What he does like is Portal 2. I'd purchased this for myself. It was only after I noticed the "E(10)" label that I thought back and realized that there was absolutely nothing objectionable at all. Given that I had no other chance to play co-op, I figured I'd give in to his interested.
The co-op is extremely well done, and is really true co-op. In most games, co-op involves a single player campaign where two people participate and enemies are made more powerful. In Portal 2, the co-op mode is a series of puzzles that can only be solved by two people cooperating.
I had worried that it would be too difficult for my son, who is eight, but the game is balanced really well for partners with differing abilities. For instance, the few tests that require any sort of manual dexterity usually only require it of one of the two players, which allows me to take the hard bits. As far as the puzzles go, my son has been able to make find the leap of inspiration himself before I've found the solution on a few occasions.
The single player is, of course, good, though not as good as the original. I really miss the challenge rooms. Unlike Portal 1, there's absolutely no replay value in the single player game. This makes the package very short for $60. I do here that Valve will be releasing free DLC, though.
I've been watching and enjoying the HBO version of "Game of Thrones". It is very well cast, most characters matching my mental impression of them. (Except for Sean Bean but his acting makes up for it.) The only problem for me is that unlike the other "event" shows ("Lost", "BSG", and even "Rome") there's no suspense as to what will happen. I miss that. Oh well.
I am amused but unsurprised at how most of the teenage characters now appear to be at least 18.
I was looking on Zillow the other day, and have become completely depressed. My neighborhood is not a bad market, nor one with excessive foreclosures, yet looking on Zillow, 9 of the nearest ten houses for sale are bank owned. Prices are dropping, and given the above, I expect that to continue. I believe we've reached a deadly point where the market is basically halted because so many people are underwater. No one can really buy because no one can unload their own house.
To give an idea how bad things are: When we finished our addition 3-4 years ago, I estimated based on the Zillow estimate that we had about 35-40% equity in the house. When I refinanced in December, 2009, by the appraisal, we had exactly 20% equity. At the time, I took the risk to do a low interest 15 year loan. This has allowed us to pay down the principle substantially at the outset. If we had not done that, by the Zillow estimate, we'd have only 3% equity. That's depressing. I feel like our payments are racing the economy to the bottom.
Before the addition, we had 60% equity. If we'd sold and become renters then...ah well.
The house behind us is one of those foreclosures. In 2005, it sold for $950,000. After foreclosure, the bank tried to unload it for $720,000. It's been dropping the price ever since. It's now down to $580,000. The amount of money that has vanished in this area is staggering.
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