In days of old Winter would start in Minnesota back in November or December. The snows would fall gradually from about the end of November, and in the month of March we would start to thaw. Ah, the good old days.

Now, it was 40 degrees in January and in February it seems like it snowed 4-6 inches every day, and always on a week day. I could afford to go out and buy a snowblower, but I have a hard time abandoning the notion that shoveling is manly and a sure sign of my virility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love snow. I enjoy winter activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating. I guess I just liked those things a lot more before I had a longer-than-it-looks driveway (I guess that adjective could be used to describe many things about me) and was constantly icing my back.

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February is always a busy month for me. In addition to it being busy for work leading up to our annual conference, my wife and I make a big deal of Valentine’s Day, and her birthday is two days after the Lovers’ Holiday. In a month full of love, it made perfect sense to do a lovey-dovey edition of Outside is Overrated.

Between special days with my love, introducing solid foods to our daughter (she eats like me) and shoveling what felt like every other day, it was a relatively slow month of gaming for the intrepid leader of OiO.

What it lacked in gaming, it did make up for with some interesting TV:

The Orville Season Two

When we first checked out The Orville last year, I expected it to be Family Guy in space. It turns out, it is a much more serious sci-fi adventure than I expected. It is a pretty effective Star Trek acolyte, taking Gene Rodenberry’s vision of space exploration and interaction, and tackling new issues of the day.

One of my favorite episodes in the first season centered around a culture that was obsessed with social media. Social justice was the law, with lives hanging in the balance in the number of up and down votes you receive. This season’s topics have included the consequences of porn addiction (to a gay married character no less), dealing with devastating disease and what a relationship between a human and artificial intelligence could look like.

The show is not going to win many awards for its CGI, but I love Seth MacFarlane as Captain Ed Mercer, and I look forward to following all of his journeys. Given how much I enjoy this show, it’s astonishing that it made it to a second season. RIP The Great Indoors.

Game of Thrones Seasons Five and Six

I have a love/hate relationship with George RR Martin’s epic fantasy saga. I fell in love with the books in 2006. The first three are some of the best fantasy I’ve ever read, the fourth entry went in the wrong direction and the fifth was a train wreck. While I enjoyed the show, I stalled out in season four, and didn’t progress for years. In fact, I immortalized my initial stopping point in an early edition of OiO.

I could go on about my frustrations with the books for quite a while, but let me sum it up by saying that I’ve known for years we were never going to find out what happens between Starks and Lannisters from Martin. Knowing that the final season is coming up, and that it will likely bring the closure that the author would never deliver, the wifey and I dove back into the show, and holy crap it is good.

The first three books were a great foundation, and it was fun to see the show break free of the fetters of the original story lines. I think they have done a great job of condensing certain threads and it was great to see the directions they went with characters. I look forward to blowing through the seventh season and enjoying the finale with the rest of America. I had Littlefinger pegged for the Iron Throne ages ago, but I’m feeling less confident after season six.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

This feels a bit like saying goodbye to an old friend. My crew of Hobby Box Burns, his roommate Lance and my friend Eric played through this sprawling adventure in the Bolivian jungles together.

The chaos this four-person squad-based shooter was just magical. Early on while my friends were carefully marking enemies and sniping foes from a distance, I would look for an opening in the fence and a clear path to the objective. When I unlocked the grenade launcher attachment for my primary weapon, all bets were off.

The basic story is that you are working to take down a drug kingpin, by slowly eroding his four main pillars of support. Bolivia is divided into regions, each region has a series of story missions and a local boss.

This video is from our first play session, or one of the early ones, and spoiler alert: I was the one in the middle of the base.

There was a ton to do and see, and the fact that we played through the entire adventure together is remarkable. I spent roughly 45 hours with the game, Lance and Eric each put well over a hundred hours in. It took a couple years to coordinate all of our schedules, but we made it through.

We haven’t been able to agree on a new four-player game, and between Eric getting into a more serious relationship and me having a kid, it is getting harder and harder for us to find times to play together. I hope we can find another title, but if not, we will always have Bolivia.

Coming back to my wife’s birthday, I wanted to something special and told her we could do anything she wished:

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…so we took our little girl to Sea Life for her first aquarium visit.

It was a month filled with, love, shovelling and sci-fi. Let me leave you with a video of my brother tackling the mean slopes of Arden Hills on cross country skis: