2012 Oct 20 | Long Beach VB, Oak Glen apples, VG party, LABV, Blumhouse of Horrors

Apple invited me to play volleyball down in Long Beach on Sunday morning.

Some of the people played doubles, like this guy, but I played fours.

Apple stuck to doubles.

This guy was really fast.

Only about half of the people put money in their meters. I didn't see any signs that it was free parking on Sunday, though, so I paid. About an hour later people were yelling, "Meter maid!" up and down the beach, and everyone ran to put money in their meters.

Some really big spikes on this court.

Good eye, letting it go out.

Big serve.

Usually you have to pay for admittance and a fairly pricey meal to get into the Magic Castle. However, every month one of the magicians there invites 10 people to get in for free with him. When he posts the invites, they're gone in about 5 minutes. Thankfully I just happened to be checking my email at the right time and got a couple. Linda had mentioned she had wanted to go, so I added her as my +1.

A picture of us inside. We saw five different shows throughout the night, all very good, and also got a tour of the place.

The only time this road gets backed up in this direction at this time of day is if there's an accident. And since it was really backed up, like 30 minutes late, it must have been pretty bad.

A motorcycle vs a SUV. I hope everyone survived.

A giant inflatable pumpkin on top of a hill.

Oak Glen, east of LA about 2 hours, has a lot of apple farms and shops.

Riley's is one of the big farms.

The store.

Lots of old-time goodies.

You can make your own apple cider.

Pick your own pumpkins.

Pick your own flowers.

Some big horses.

Sheep and other animals.

Some of the many apples you can pick.

Another farm, Willowbrook.

And another one, Los Rios Rancho. Although it looked like this one had been bought out by Riley's.

In town was Oak Tree Village.

With lots of old shops.

Ooh, apparently they have Black Hills gold.

This area smelled sooo good.

A few more shops.


Up this way was a little farm-type area.

No idea what that thing is.

100% of the activities on that sign sound fun.

I wonder of they have real bears.

Pony rides.

Even wandering peacocks.

A few more over here.

Another sign with tons of things I'd want to do.

I like how they put the wait time for the restaurant on the poles.


These were huge.

Lots of old candy.

Different types of popcorn; I loved the one with almonds.

They really do have Black Hills gold.

Nothing in the $20 range, though.

The rest of the shop.

A directory of the entire town. I mainly wanted some apple cider, and the people at Oak Tree Village said they didn't have any, but try Mom's down the road.

So that's where I went.

Tons of jams.

All kinds of freshly-picked apples.

A few old-time items.

Lots of honey, even some still on the comb.

The guy working there was extremely nice and helpful, but unfortunately they were out of cider, but he said try the Cider Mill nearby.

Also many types of apples, and tons of cider as well.

Sunset through some trees.

A state-issued plate that almost says "doctor."

A bunch of lumber must have fallen off some truck. It sure smelled good, though.

A guy biking in Santa Monica.

Normally I hate getting stuck behind people hauling a bunch of junk like this because they normally drive really slowly, but this guy was hauling ass. I was nicely surprised.

A downtown building has had a Target sign on it since I moved to Los Angeles. A lot of people said they were just sponsoring the building, like the Target Center or something, but I kept thinking they'd put a store there. Well, they just opened.

Looking down into it.

I even got some coupons in the mail.

An interesting little vehicle.

I want someone to practice volleyball with, but she looks a little too upscale.

I bought some books for the kids at the office to read while waiting. Someone drew all over the front cover just days after I got it. What kind of horrible parent lets their kid do that?

The placement of the price sticker makes the title ambiguous, although the subtitle should make it obvious.

Lots of Twilight books at the Goodwill.

Those are actually some pretty nice TVs.

The prescription on these is +10. Normally you'd never put that in metal frame, you'd use plastic to cover up how thick the edges are, so hopefully the optician explained to the patient what it would look like. Sometimes someone already has lenses like this in a metal frame and they're OK with it, but if they're not expecting it, this usually doesn't end with a happy customer.

I like this table. You can pull them apart to separate them or push them together. You can always lift up a separate table and put it next to another one to do the same thing, but this is a little more inviting.

Some of the optometrists at the local COA Town Hall meeting.

Friday night was another N64 / PS1 videogame party at my place. Cooking some first beforehand.

Pasta and Texas Toast.

Apple brought some Thai food as well.

She seems to like the big bear.

She and Michael hadn't played Mario Kart before, but they learned quickly.

Great facial expression; you can tell she's really into the race. And she turns the whole controller when she wants to turn, haha.

Dance Dance Revolution.

Lindsay played on the hardest mode.

Super Smash Bros.

Gauntlet Legends.

More Super Smash Bros, but this time with the beginners.

Playing a train game out in the courtyard.

Mario Kart 64.

NFL Blitz, again with nobody who really knew how to play it, but they still had a ton of fun.

Saturday was volleyball with LABV in Playa del Rey.

Lots of people diving today.

Almost looks like Superman.

Great facial expression; he's really going for it.

Big spike.

Jump serve.

Another great facial expression.


I've been playing Torchlight 2 a bit. It's from many of the same developers who made Diablo 2, which I loved, whereas Diablo 3 is made by the same company but different people. One of the big differences between Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3 is the loot: in Torchlight 2, the unique items are dropped much more often than they are in Diablo 3. Here another player and I defeated the final boss, and he's impressed by the items that dropped.

Also, it's much faster to level up in Torchlight. I got to level 100 in just a few weeks of casual playing.

The worst attacks aren't from enemies but from traps in the floors, which are almost instant kill late in the game. Here's a secret area with floor traps everywhere.

Also, once you beat the game, you can choose to replay the entire story mode with stronger enemies or else do Mapworks, which generates random levels. The neat thing about Mapworks is there are additional properties on the levels. I look for ones like this that have 10% increase in magic-finding and 25% increase in gold found.

In Diablo, gold isn't very useful. However, in Torchlight, it is. You can use it to enchant items, gamble, etc. One of the most expensive things is the Vendor Boon Scrolls, which drop pretty rarely. When you open one, there is a vendor who sells very high-end and expensive gear, so you want to make sure you've saved up a lot of gold before you open it.

The Mapworks levels are created with tile sets from the regular questing areas, so sometimes more unique areas also show up there, like this area with a special maze that only shows up once in the quest game.

There are also lots of secret areas, like stepping on the slightly-elevated block here, which either opens secret rooms right around it with chests or...

... which lifts the area in the middle of the pillar here, which has a lever you can pull to bring up this bridge to an area with lots of chests.

These levels have secret areas activated by smashing a pot by some vines, which makes a vine bridge.

There are also really neat item designs, like this full set, called Alchemy.

Or a flaming sword.

Or a shield that looks like a skull.

Also, I loved the necromancer in Diablo 2 since he could summon lots of monsters to fight for him. There's no character like that in Torchlight 2, but there are lots of spells that can do the same. I have an Astral Ally, shadowlings (flying bat-like creatures), a flying skull that roars when it's summoned and shoots fireballs, zombies, an imp, and archers.

They also have really fun items. A lot of the time they make fun of the name with a sentence at the bottom. Galaxy Quest has "Never give up. Never surrender," from the movie and Blizzard has, "All our best," which is in reference to Blizzard making Diablo 3, a competitor. How nice.

Saturday night we went ot the Blumhouse of Horrors downtown. The line was pretty long outside.

You could pay $20 to skip to the front of the line, but we weren't in a hurry.

Especially because it was fun to watch some of the actors scare people walking along the sidewalk.

Dodge left, dodge right!

Our group getting a picture with they guy with one of the best costumes.

A creepy lady with a doll.

I loved this guy's outfit.

The front entrance.

There was still a long line even inside.

At least there was a band playing some music. You couldn't see from this angle, but you walked past them later on, and they all had good costumes on as well.

And this magician did tricks for people in this area.

Reading by cell-phone light.

We finally got right to the front and they had some problem, so we had to wait like another 20 minutes. In total, we waited right around 2 hours. Then, when we got inside, someone sent the group before us the wrong direction and they ended up in our group, which was too big. But they split us up again, so it wasn't too big of a problem.

You couldn't take pictures with flash inside, so the pictures are pretty blurry, but this was a failed magician with lots of body halves scattered around.

A really pretty room.

Up on stage in a huge auditorium.

Doing a magic trick.

This guy waited at the end to scare people right when they got out. It wasn't very scary, but there were some very pretty areas. Also, at the beginning they poured a little water on you from above, but they got me pretty wet, so I wasn't real happy about that. I really liked the fake broken elevator at the end, though.