I've been incredibly busy at work lately, and my programming drive is burned out at the end of the day. As such, I haven't made a great deal of progress on any of my previously mentioned goals. But I have been having a little fun (which is always a good thing).
Two expansion packs were released for the original Half-Life several years ago: Opposing Force and Blue Shift. I never purchased either, but recently decided that I would. While browsing Valve's 'Steam' content delivery system, I found out (by accident) that my original Half-Life CD key enabled me to access both expansion packs for free!
Opposing Force, being the first expansion released, was the one I played first. It was an interesting expansion (several of the new weapons were moderately interesting), but overall felt very empty. You only catch a glimpse of Gordon Freeman once, and the ending is somewhat of a let down (although it will be interesting to see what Valve does with the main character from this expansion).
Blue Shift is the real gem. Although it's incredibly short, there are a ton of "Oh, wow - that was so cool!" moments. Playing as Barney Calhoun, the player relives the Black Mesa incident from a different angle. You run into Gordon a number of times, bringing back a flood of memories from the original game. The connections between the two are incredible, making an already excellent game even better.
It's sad that it's taken me this long to play through these expansions. But they were very interesting and helped fill in some of the details of the Half-Life world in my mind. Hopefully the Aftermath expansion for Half-Life 2 will show up soon. I certainly can't wait to play it!