Thursday, February 26, 2009

We now return...

to our regularly scheduled programming.

Or nearly anyway. I finished up the test today at approximately 3:30 pm Texas time. After a nice dinner with friends, I headed back to my parent's house which is about 2 hours away from Dallas. I'm so glad to be here. Mase's futon was a great place to crash, but I'm looking forward to a nice night in a real bed where I'm not disrupting anyone else's routine. I'm also really looking forward to sleeping right on through that whole 5:30 am thing. Ugh, I really prefer thinking that there is only one 5:00 on the clock.

I've returned just in time to get to help calm down the drama llama in our guild. We seem to have developed another small case of the doldrums. We have a few newer 80s joining a few established 80s who fill dps roles who are unhappy with the state of our raiding recently. With me basically being on hiatus for at least the past two weeks, the unfortunate timing of some other real life issues for people--including tanks and healers, and the state of end game raiding in general (meaning boring), our raids have become more infrequent and frustrating. Although I sympathize with the people angry over confirmations--again--we're working on the problems and doing our best. Airing the grievances is a two-sided sword. It's probably good that they feel like we have to take their complaints into consideration, but they are mostly spewing problems and not trying to help with solutions.

Oh well, that is a problem for another day. And we will weather this like we have weathered drama storms before. But for now, I'm just going to curl up on my bed and sleep until I wake up. Happy gaming, all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This is a test. This is only a test.

The torture starts tomorrow. Two and a half days of fun fun testing. When I have stopped having nightmares about the Rule Against Perpetuities, I'll start posting more regularly again.

Until then, have fun in WoW. I vaguely remember how to play...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny"

Sromkie: @Silver Did you watch the Buffy series when it was on TV (or DVDs since)?
Silver: No, I never did watch the Buffy series. I assumed it was cheesy due to Sarah Michelle Gellar being in it. Was I wrong?
Sromkie: ok... you should rent the seasons on DVD.... Season 1 isn't the greatest, but it gets really good. Anyway, you need to see it before I can point you to something else to read.
Silver: Ok, I'll check it out. How many seasons are there?
Sromkie: 7!
Silver: O.o
Sromkie: it's worth it though. Get crackin'!
Verm: Just start with the first season and decide if you want more after you finish it.
Tam: Buffy go!
Silver: All the peer pressure! :) I guess I'll add Buffy to my list.
Sromkie: Well, I would say at least give it until half way through season 2. Season 1 was still finding its legs. you'll enjoy it.
Sromkie: @Tam, please explain to @Silver how watching the series is vitally important to understanding the Season 8 comics.
Silver: @Tam Yes, please do as @Sromkie instructed. I am curious.

Watching my Twitter list over the last 24 hours has been a study in how I end up doing Sromkie's dirty work. I'm pretty sure I said all of two words about Buffy and suddenly I'm explaining why watching seven seasons of a television series is vital to understanding a comic book.

I'll admit that vital may be pushing it, but it's hard to imagine being drawn into the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 comic books without knowing the background from the television show. So to start off Silver's lessons, I asked him to give me a run-down of what he does know about the show. And for fun, I pulled Thren in, too.

Pretty blonde girl (PBG from here forward) is born with some crazy power to fight and kill demons and vampires. PBG doesn't want this power and tries to deny it, but people around her tell her that she can't deny it and she must follow through with her destiny. PBG begins hunting demons and vampires and makes some friends along the way who have the same, or similar, powers. Throughout the series, PBG makes out with a lot of hot, spikey haired boys and creates some drama. Amidst PBG's drama, she has to deal with her friend's who create their own relationship issues at the same time as she's fighting off thousand-year-old demons and vampires. PBG has some close calls and almost dies a few times, but she miraculously comes back to life and picks up the killing right where she left off. Meanwhile, one of her spikey haired boyfriends betrays her and she has to kill him, which makes her very upset. About midway through the series, she has to think of some way to keep people interested, so her and her friends come up with some crazy new vampire/demon killing technology to make things more interesting. In the end, half of her friends die and she ends up alone, having killed every demon/vampire that the underworld has thrown at her. Roll credits.
Ok so I think Buffy is a high school student, though she really looks more like she's in college. Ooo I think the name of her school or town or somesuch has Sunny in the name. I suppose that's designed to be "oh ho funny," because it turns out there's a portal or gate or something in the town that leads to hell. Oops! How'd that get there?

So I guess all they have in hell is vampires, because that's what Buffy has to fight. I think the librarian at the school gives her assignments or tutors her in the stabbing arts or something. There are 2 other sidekicks, both of whom probably also don't look like high school students. At some point, Buffy falls in love with a vampire named David Boreanaz. I only remember this because he is also in the show Bones, which I rather like.

There is a sordid love affair between everyone on the show at some point. Buffy can't NOT fall in love with vampires, so eventually someone probably gets hurt by one. Does she even sleep with the librarian? I think Tim Curry should have played the librarian.

I'm pretty sure that's the plot for all 7 seasons. Buffy kills vampires using her cheerleader skillset, which apparently includes stabbing motions. That's all I know about the plot of Buffy.
Seasons 1-7 of Buffy span three years of High School and the four years after graduation. A lot happens to normal people during those years; they go from being awkward teenagers answering to parents, teachers, and any other "grownup" they encounter to being considered "grownups" themselves and expected to know the answer. For Buffy and pals, add in monsters, magic, and momentous moments. And over the course of 144 episodes, there are a lot of monsters and moments. Although the show never really lost its continuity, there is a big difference between Episode 1 of Season 1, Welcome to the Hellmouth, and the Series Finale of Season 7, Chosen. More than just seven years of life have linked these characters, they have celebrated the good times, suffered through the bad, and helped each other survive everything a gifted writing staff could throw at them.

So why can't you just take all of that on faith and jump into the Season 8 comics? I guess you could...if you're ok with missing the nuances of relationships. Good books, movies, and television shows do more than just tell you a story, they make you care about the people caught inside it. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer is no different. Sure, in Episode 1 you might think Buffy is a shallow sophomore wearing trendy clothes and butchering the English language. But by Episode 144, you've watched her sweat, bleed, and cry over all the badness in the world. You've watched her laugh in the face of overwhelming odds and get the job done even when it's not a fun or glamorous job. You've watched her make friends with two fairly awkward teenagers who grow into pretty incredible people. And you've seen her hurt them, intentionally and unintentionally.

Again, it might be possible to just accept that the characters have a history and hope you can catch up. But the books don't dumb it down for you. They fully expect that you will have some knowledge of the Buffyverse, and not just the basics. You need more than just "Blonde Girl Have Power/Blonde Girl Have Friends." You don't need to have stretches of dialogue memorized, but you need to know some of the things that have happened to these characters to fully understand the stories being told in Season 8--because reading a story about what happens after the end, always makes you wonder about what happened before. The villains from Seasons 1-7 may not make a big comeback in Season 8, but some of the more memorable minor characters play a part in the story arc. The main characters have definitely morphed from gangly, but witty, teenagers into powerful fighters in their own right. And the journey from High School Library to command center is worth sticking around for, after all, as Oz says, it's "chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Heart Candy, Skimpy Dresses, and a Naked Goblin

Happy "Valentine's Day" to those of you who like it. Happy "Ugh...Hearts" day to those of you who don't.

I spent a small amount of time doing the Love is in the Air quests on Tamzz today. Mostly because she didn't have a Lovely Red Dress. I didn't take the time to do all the holiday achievements, which I may regret at some point. But I didn't do all the Lunar Festival ones either, so meh. I don't actually mind the in-game Valentine's Day festivities that much, but the number of gaudy flower bouquets the secretaries received at work yesterday made me throw up a little in my mouth. I fully admit that my V Day attitude is directly proportional to the likelihood of me actually getting a present. So this year it sucked...unless a Valentine's Day card from my parents makes up for no roses. Pretty sure it doesn't.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

If the internet died...

What would you do if the internet died tomorrow? You wake up, and the internet is just...dead. Forever.

This frightening question appeared as Silver's status message yesterday. And, after my panic attack ended, I decided to answer it.
  1. Remember how to pay bills by check.
  2. Shop by paper catalog and phone, meaning switch the X and the V in the product code and end up with yellow pants.
  3. Read more books...that don't come from Amazon.
  4. Find a local bookstore.
  5. Convert my computer desk into a puzzle assembly area. (The desk is already used to my could adapt to puzzles...maybe...)
  6. Go to the gym...ok, that's just crazy talk.
  7. Subscribe to the local paper.
  8. Go back to not caring what people from high school do now.
  9. Write real letters that I forget to send.
  10. Use the actual books at the law library to look up stuff.
  11. Get rid of my Blackberry.
  12. Write a book.
  13. Tune in to the radio or TV when the weather looks bad.
  14. Buy a set of encyclopedias from a traveling salesman.
  15. Never stop that weird nagging feeling by finding out what else an actor has been in.
  16. Call the movie theater's phone line for movie times.
  17. Actually have to talk to co-workers instead of e-mailing them. Or develop a way to make paper airplanes fly down the hall a la Harry Potter.
  18. NEVER see another chain e-mail telling me that the only way to prove how friendly/loving/Christian/patriotic I am is to forward it to 53 people within 6.7 minutes.
  19. Not know where to purchase Viagra.
  20. Forget how to speak lolcat.
  21. Actually laugh out loud.
  22. Use a travel agent. Or stop traveling.
  23. Miss the season finale to The Guild.
  24. Stop using the words "fail" and "horribad."
  25. Do the Draenei female dance while I'm alone in my apartment.
Hope I didn't scare you too much with that last one.

I'm off to watch Heroes on Hulu and catch up on the xeno forums.

Edit: The xeno forums timed out. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. It's really happening! Noooooooooooooo.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eye Exam?!! But I Didn't Study!

I went to a new Optometrist last week. I've worn glasses/contacts since 5th grade, so it's not a new experience for me. But this was a more interesting trip than usual. First of all, when I started trying to find a doctor here in town, I should have been suspicious when I recognized this guy's name. I've mentioned before that if I recognize someone at Wal-Mart, it's most likely not because they've brought me cookies--they have probably been to court for breaking the law. But I didn't worry about that when I made my appointment. This guy took my insurance, had an appointment time that fit my schedule, and was close to the office.

When I walked in, the lady who handed me my initial paperwork looked familiar. It didn't take me long to realize that I recognized her from Juvie Court. The Optometrist's son was in court a few months back for basic stupidity and hanging with the wrong crowd. Once I met the Optometrist, he recognized me and I got to talk about work some. I don't really like talking about what I do for a living with people that I've had to do it to--something about knowing I helped send your kid to rehab makes the normal jokes inappropriate. I can't joke about upholding justice one fine at a time, or mention that stupidity means job security. So mostly I just have to smile and nod a lot.

Anyway, so I have new glasses coming next week and I can't wait. I wasn't really happy that they use snail mail to get the glasses instead of having one of those one hour turn around labs or even same day service. It seems like lately everywhere I look I'm reminded that this is a small town two hours away from the nearest real place to shop, go out to eat, etc. He did have all the new-fangled eye-exam gizmos though, along with the standard ones, so that's ok I guess. I just hope I passed the test; he kept asking me which was better: 1 or 2. And honestly, sometimes I really wanted to pick 3 for none of the above. Maybe I've just been studying for the Bar Exam too much lately.

And to sorta relate this back to WoW...I ordered new headphones last night hoping that they will work better and stop pushing my glasses into my head when I'm on vent. I hope they don't suck.


Why Now?

Well it's official, I've quit WOW. Now to be fair, I've quit before and I won't swear I won't play again. I started playing in February of 2005. I played for a year and a half and quit. It was the right decision at the time, but I did miss it. I wasn't a very serious player at that time. I started playing WOW as a resto druid and then started a warlock to level with my friend whom I'd talked into playing (Tam.)

So I took off a year and then decided to start playing again. The main reasons I came back: 1. My husband started playing again 2. I missed Tam 3. I missed playing the game in general 4. boredom. I came back with BC in full swing and decided to continue on with my warlock. I really enjoyed playing her and found it painful to level my druid.

So I became more serious about the game. I tried to research more and actually begin raiding. I also really enjoyed the people in our guild. I have fond memories of ARCOG with Verm. I got my first epic there and I loved that instance. I was so proud to be a part of the first Illidian kill. It seemed our guild had the right mixture of drive to get it done, but enough character to make it fun in the process. I even went to three guild outings and it was fun each time.

I'll be honest... I was dreading WoTLK coming out. I knew it meant major change and I don't do well with change. But I tried to level quickly and get back in shape to raid again.

So why did I decide to quit? Several reason: 1. game content was too easy. Not that I'm not saying it was too easy for me personally. I was usually behind the curve. However, it was too easy for our guild, so attitudes changed. 2. Guild changed - I knew where I stood pre-WoTLK. Now it was different. I felt that dps ruled all. I know it's important... but it didn't matter if you could follow orders, show up on time, come prepared or just plain and simple be decent to work with. DPS was what mattered. So it's a personal thing, but quite frankly I got tired of feeling rejection every week when confirmations were made. I got tired of worrying that I was abusing my friendship (unintentionally) to get confirmations. I was tired of worrying about competing with someone I really don't know or care to know. Most of all I didn't like feeling like I was being used to prove the power that some people have. 3. I have 2 wonderful little daughters that I felt I needed to devote more time to. So I felt guilty no matter what. If I spent more time with them then I wasn't as ready for raid as I should have been and didn't so as much research as I should have. If I spent more time on WOW then I felt my daughters missed out. If I played less I missed being with my husband and Tam and being a part of the guild. It was a no win situation.

So I quit. I'm happy with my decision. And I really don't miss it. My nights feel so long now - which is a good thing. I'm free to go do whatever any night of the week. I don't feel that panic and pressure on raid nights worrying about how I'm going to get everything done in time to raid. The down side is I really miss the friends I had in the guild. I know besides Tam I probably won't see or talk to them again :( I'll really miss their companionship over the last few years.
So there it is. Why I quit. Why I'm happier now. Why I really think I won't be coming back to WOW. (But we all know it has a way of sucking you back in muhahahaha.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Feel the Love?

Eyonix gave us a bit of a preview of upcoming Priest, Rogue and Shaman changes in Patch 3.1. Although my Rogue was my first toon, she's sitting in Borean Tundra at level 70.6, so the Rogue changes don't really matter to me too much at this point. The proposed Priest and Shaman changes, however, make me cautiously optimistic.

Shaman Changes
Most of the Shaman changes (listed in full below) are for Enhancement or Elemental Shamans. The main change for we healy types is in the continued streamlining of totems. No longer will we have to choose between a Mana Spring or Healing Stream Totem; they will be combined. This is a small but awesome change for us. There are times that the steady stream of heals would be useful, but I just can't bring myself to use Healing Stream when my party (or sometimes, just me) is begging for mana. Less exciting, but still cool is the introduction of a combined Poison and Disease Cleansing Totem. In certain areas of Naxxramus this will rock. We will just have to see if there are more fights in future instances that require simultaneous cleansing of poisons and diseases. Now if they'd only give us a Virus Obliterating Totem so I could cure Sromkie of his cold, I'd be a very happy camper.

Priest Changes
The Priest changes are more exciting and should make our holier than thou friends very happy. Mase's main complaint about the Circle of Healing nerf was that Blizzard didn't give Priests anything in trade. Priests are my favorite healers because of their versatility, but that versatility makes many of them grumpy because they aren't the best at any one thing. The proposed changes give them more toys to play with and some additional AOE healing tricks. Prayer of Healing won't be confined to the Priest's own group anymore, so they will be able to cast it on any group in the raid. (Ladyspam will finally be able to heal someone who isn't in her group!)

The coolest sounding new spell is Power Word: Barrier, a Discipline only spell that will bubble the Priest's group. We'll have to see if this raid wide as well and how exactly it works, but I like the sound of it. It may end up moving Discipline Priests back into the tank or melee group.

It also looks like Blizzard is moving forward with their plans to make healers have to think about a spell rotation--at least in a small sense. Riptide followed by a Chain Heal results in a huge heal on the target, so Resto Shamans should be somewhat familiar with this already. Now our Priestly friends may get a taste with the changes to Serendipity, however, it looks like this talent will only reduce the cast time of Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing without increasing the amount healed, but it still seems like a step towards a spell rotation for Holy Priests.

Overall, I'm happy about the changes, and even more excited to see what else they have in store for us in 3.1. I know the details of the class changes will likely change many times before the patch hits, but it's nice to know what the develpers are thinking about. I just hope that 3.1 comes out soon.

  • Divine Spirit – this spell is now a core ability available to all priests.
  • Discipline has access to a new talent, Power Word: Barrier. (Think of it as Power Word: Shield for your whole group).
  • Several area of effect (AOE) heal spells have been improved: Prayer of Healing can be cast on any groups in your raid party. Holy Nova’s mana cost has been reduced. Circle of Healing now heals for more.
  • Shadow priest PvP survivability has been improved: Shadow Form now reduces magic as well as physical damage. Dispersion now removes snares.
  • Penance – this spell can now be targeted on the priest.
  • Serendipity – this talent now reduces the cast time of Greater Heal and Prayer of Healing when Binding Heal or Flash Heal are cast.
  • We are also working to give Holy additional PvP utility.

  • Hunger for Blood – instead of a self-buff, this ability can only be used when there is a bleed effect on the target. However, it has no stacks and grants a 15% damage bonus.
  • Adrenaline Rush – the cooldown on this ability has been lowered.
  • Lightning Reflexes – reduced to 3 ranks. In addition to 2/4/6% dodge, this talent now also grants 4/7/10% passive melee haste.
  • Killing Spree – while this ability is active, the rogue does 20% additional damage.
  • Savage Combat – now causes 2/4% physical damage done.
  • Mace Specialization – this talent now grants haste in addition to armor penetration.

  • Chain Lightning – now jumps to 4 targets but does less damage. We wanted to make the distinction between Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning more clear.
  • Storm, Earth and Fire – this talent now increases all damage done by Flame Shock, not just periodic damage.
  • Spirit Weapons – now reduces all threat, not just melee threat.
  • Unleashed Rage – reduced to 2 ranks, now also increases your critical strike chance with melee attacks by 1/2%.
  • Totem streamlining: The Mana Spring and Healing Stream Totems have been combined. The Disease Cleansing and Poison Cleansing Totems have been combined.
  • We are also working on giving Enhancement and Elemental more PvP utility.
  • Monday, February 2, 2009

    Christmas Eve, Memorial Day Weekend, and Superbowl Sunday

    What are days to avoid Wal*Mart?

    I needed to stop by Wally World this weekend to pick up a small appliance for my kitchen and grab some groceries. I knew going in this was a bad idea. My town has a population of about 20k...during the week. On weekends we swell to closer to 100k because so many people from the rural areas come in to shop, do laundry, and party. You can find most of them at Wal*Mart. After fighting my way through the crowds to grab some necessities, I parked myself in line to check out. A couple of women were in front of me (probably sisters or cousins) with their kids in tow. Each lady had a full cart, and 2 or 3 kids...maybe less, but it felt like more.

    One of the kids was a very cute girl with a long black braid. She was probably about 5 years old. I first noticed her when she wandered over to the impulse buy area next to me. She was trying to put some Chapstick in her jeans pocket. A 5 year old shoplifter. /sigh. She saw me watching her and slowly put the Chapstick down on the bottom shelf, near the batteries. She came back to the Chapstick after my attention drifted for a second. This time, her mother told her to "Stop it!" and distracted her with a Blues Clues Gogurt. After the little girl finished her yogurt drink, she put it down on the counter and walked back to "her" Chapstick. Knowing she wouldn't get away with taking it now that both I and her mother had seen her playing with it, she just took the cap off and used some instead.

    Moral of the story: Don't buy unpackaged Chapstick at Wal*Mart. Or go shopping on Sunday afternoons.