To a Nunnery

Junktown Trader

Fo1_Junktown_Postcard

Yesterday did not end the way I think either myself or my wife intended it to.  Since I had been vehemently opposed to getting out Saturday or Sunday, I knew I would need to make amends and run around yesterday.  Namely she had been wanting to hit a bunch of the areas Goodwill stores to see if she could find this one specific type of pant that she liked… that Old Navy no longer makes or sells.  I also wanted to check out a new game store… and by new… it just celebrated its first anniversary but this was the first time I had been to it.

Thrillhouse games was pretty sweet to be honest.  It was pretty small and had limited stock but it was quite literally the first time in a decade I had seen packaged Turbografx 16 games on a shelf.  I asked about the two consoles I have always wanted to own.  Turns out they had a NeoGeo AES when they shop opened but it sold about a year later for $500.  Additionally they have had in a few TurboDuo systems, but they go pretty fast.  I looked around the store but sadly saw nothing I absolutely had to have.  I am mostly in a mode of looking for a place to buy reasonably priced DS/3DS games… and while their prices were extremely reasonable I just didn’t see anything in their stock that I actually wanted.

After hitting a Salvation Army store, we shifted focus to an alternate mission.  My wife has been looking for two things where we go… firstly a new cabinet for the bedroom for her to store her jewelry and scarves in, and second antique pendants to be made into necklaces, or even completed jewelry.  I on the other hand have been on the lookout as always for anything nifty and LEGO, and more lately I have been looking for any sort of geeky coffee mugs.  I currently have a Star Wars mug and it is my absolute favorite… if my wife doesn’t watch me like a hawk I will rinse it out each day and reuse it.  So she has been wanting me to find more coffee mugs that I like using, so mostly I have been looking for any geeky movie tie-ins or comic book stuff.

While we didn’t end up buying anything we had a good time sifting through the memories of other people.  Oklahoma has tons of these “Antique Malls” that are basically just junk stores neatly cordoned off into rentable stalls.  They tend to go into any large building like a Wal-Mart or grocery store that is in a crappy part of town, and as such is “low rent”.  They chop them up into vendor booth and then charge rent.  What you find in them is essentially anything the people can get their hands on.  In one of the booths we literally saw a single lollipop with a 25 cent price tag on it.  Most of the stuff seems to come from estate sales.  Rather than purchase the stuff I found interesting, I have just started taking pictures.  The next bit of the blog is me posting a picture or pictures and talking about it.

Tiny Kitchen

junking_tinyfridge junking_tinyoven

I just thought this thing was amazing.  I am guessing it is an artifact of the 50s or 60s since it is almost entirely metal construction.  Any later than that and I expect you would start to see some plastics involved.  What is interesting about it is this is doll furniture, but on a scale sized for larger dolls and not so much for Barbie sized ones.  The detail that went into it is just insane.  Like every little dial is screen printed on in high resolution.  Which makes me wonder if this is a product of the 60s and not the 50s.  The craftsmanship that went into this is just mind boggling, especially when considering just how small the piece is.  This was a really expensive toy in its day, and I am sure it was not something the average kid could have even imagined playing with.

To a Nunnery

junking_nundolls

The previous one… I have nothing but respect for the craftsmanship…  this one however I simply do not get.  There was this entire shelf of tiny nuns.  Why on earth would someone need an entire shelf of tiny nuns?  Is this a thing that people collect?  I am trying to wrap my head around how someone started down this path… and obviously they were made by the same person.  There was an entire virtual convent on this on shelf, with nun-cooks and nun-teachers and all sorts of things.  Maybe in areas of the country with catholic schools… nuns are looked on as sweet doting aunt like figures.  For me even though I was raised catholic… nuns kinda freak me the hell out.  The really odd thing here was…  they were individually priced.  You would think if you were selling this item that you would want to try and move the entire shelf together.  I can’t see as this being a “fast seller”.

Rotten Fruit

junking_uglypear No real reason for this one other than the fact I thought it was kind of ugly.  One of the things you see a lot of in these places is what I can only charitably call “folk art”.  I do not discourage anyone’s choice of expression, if you want to pick up a brush and paint something that matters to you, then I salute you.  This pear has never mattered anything to anyone.  This is the trite kind of thing that people paint expecting to sell it to someone looking for something red, green or yellow for their home decor.  So not only is it somewhat ugly, it is completely devoid of meaning.  It doesn’t even really qualify as still life since the pear is kind of just floating there suspended in a blood red sea.  This is far from the worst I have seen but the thing that really bugged me about it is that the pear is just squeezed into the frame as an after thought.  It drove me a little bit nuts that you had works of space on one side of he pear but nothing on the top, bottom or right.  I kept wanting to try and center the pear since the object was way the hell too big to be a piss poor attempt at the “rule of thirds”

Freaky Indian

junking_freakyindian I was walking from cubical to cubical rifling through their goods when I damned near jumped and screamed because this thing freaked me the hell out.  Similar to the shelf full of little nun figures… I cannot think of a single occasion where the gift of a life sized Native American man would ever be appropriate.  Granted I realize we live in Oklahoma… aka Indian Territory, but man there is never a case where I would be comfortable in the same house as this thing.  I don’t get dolls in the first place, and I am so happy that my wife does not have a collection of those freaky china dolls with their dead eyes…  but this would just be over the top for me.  I would keep putting a sheet or blanket over it.  All the while I was in the booth it felt like the damned thing was watching me.  I am sure someone out there is dying to have this thing in their house, but count me out.  It does make me wonder where exactly it came from.  I feel like it is intended to be a doll and not some sort of a mannequin.

Wall of Photographic History

junking_wallofcameras

This photo is not that good, because I was trying to take it on the downlow.  This wall of cameras was a few feet away from the booth full of people running the place.  I never know for certain how they would feel about someone snapping photos, so I try and do it without drawing too much attention.  As a result I used my phones crappy “digital zoom” option to take this photo standing down another one of the isles and out of site from the junktown overlords.  I wanted to end this on a positive note, since a lot of these were me boggling that anyone would ever buy such a thing.  This wall was like a tour through photographic history.  It got a little nostalgic because they had a version of my first camera sitting there on the white shelf.

Growing up my dad was a professional portrait photographer and was constantly doing weddings, senior pictures or little league ball teams.  I essentially grew up in the darkroom, so me not being a photographer was never really an option.  I have a love and deep nostalgia towards cameras because they remind me of happy times with my dad.  I don’t do it as often as I should, but I have even called him up on the weekend to see if he wants to go on a photo shoot.  While each item was for sale, it was more impressive to me as a collection.  This represented a lot of work collecting “ancient history”.  I would be interested to see if the seller has a collection themselves and these are just the castoffs that didn’t make the cut.

More Junking

I doubt we will make it out today, but we both had quite a good time sifting through other peoples stuff.  Granted we didn’t walk away with anything but going to one of these antique malls is like visiting a really weird museum.  I figure we will do some more of this as we each search for our own things.  I did manage to find some Legos but they were priced more than I was willing to pay for them.  This was just one town and two different stores, and there are probably a dozen of these locations surrounding us each loaded up with similar Malls and Flea Markets.  Not to mention you can drive in any direction from the Tulsa metro area and find little towns with similar locations.  I figure this is going to be a thing we do more often.

Enter the Shado-pan

Who Needs Sleep?

It is amazing just how quickly your sleep schedule can be thrown off balance when you are on vacation.  Generally speaking I wake up at 5:30 in the morning and tend to go to sleep around 11:30 to midnight at the worse.  Since being on break for the last week I have managed to shift that to getting up around 10 am in the morning and having to take Nyquil to be able to have a hope of getting to sleep at 3 am.  Sleep has never been something that came easy for me, and in High School I even took a series of sleep studies to try and figure out the source of my frequent bouts of insomnia.  There would be days I just didn’t sleep at all, and as a result it became progressively harder to function.

The problem is because of my weight the doctor wasn’t actually looking for insomnia but instead he was dead certain he would find out that I really have sleep apnea.  Clearly he didn’t listen to me at all, because I told him I simply could not sleep at times.  So I got hooked up to all these machines, with electrodes super glued into my head… put in an unfamiliar room and told to sleep normally.  Apparently I had to sleep six hours for the test to be valid…  I don’t think I slept at all.  As a result I have never attempted too investigate what is actually wrong with my brain that keeps it form shutting down at all.

I am jealous of my wife, because she can take two naps in the same day and still manage to get a full nights sleep.  Me on the other hand if I doze off for 30 minutes during the day I am screwed and will not be able to get to sleep at all during the night.  I have another week before I go back to work, so during this time I am going to work on trying to train my body back into a normal schedule.  This morning I woke up at 9 am, so it is happening gradually.  I just know 5 am next Monday morning is going to be pure hell if I don’t act now and try and do something proactive to fix this.

Enter the Shado-pan

Wow-64 2013-12-30 02-23-11-74 Yesterday morning shortly after blogging I did my recent scan of the auction house and found another one of the extremely amazing Fist of Fate weapons.  These things really are ideal for leveling a combat rogue or enhancement shaman, as they quite literally cannot be beat before 90.  Since I had a pair of claws… I decided I had to go get my favorite claw graphic ever.  During Zulgurub era the coolest you could think as a melee was the matched set of claws.  One dropped from the tiger boss, and the other from the panther boss, and to my knowledge I have only known one person who actually wielded the set during the time they were viable weapons.  Vexa looked amazing with both of them, and even more amazing when the weapons would proc and she would turn into this awesome were-tiger.

During Burning Crusade they introduced a set of rare vendor purchased claws that had the same graphic.  So immediately after equipping the second Fist, I made the trek out to Dealer Jayden at Stormspire in Netherstorm and purchase the Nexus-Claw.  In the above shot you can see me wielding the set and looking otherwise badass.  Sadly the lookalikes don’t proc, especially when transmogged…  but that would be a nice change for the future.  If you transmog something it would be awesome if it also transmogged the proc graphics.  Who doesn’t want to be a badass looking werepanther?  Honestly the trinket that I am loving is the one my paladin has that turns me into a random troll tribe.  I feel like I am one of the few people out there who is not sick of troll instances.  I have a special love for Zul’gurub, Zul’Aman and was supremely disappointed that we never had a Frost Troll raid in Wrath of the Lich King.

Yesterday I had another one of those days where I simply did not want to leave the house (much to the chagrin of my wife who is getting more than a little bit stir-crazy).   As a result I worked my way through my normal leveling path, taking off and going to Kun Lai as soon as I could, and then again transitioning to Townlong.  I am currently 89 and working on the totem of rage quest series in the second Shado-pan hub.  My hope is this evening to finish leveling to 90, but we may or may not have a flex raid.  I have a feeling we are going out into the world today, as my wife wants to hit some stores.  My hope is that Monday things will not be terribly busy as most folks will have had to go back to work today.  I still have another week off, so plenty of time to faff about and finish leveling the rogue.

Accidental Achiever

Outside is Evil

Yesterday we recuperated from the whirlwind shopping trip around Joplin Mo.  It was a pretty glorious day to be honest, because we were both in hibernation mode.  We talked for a bit about getting out, because it really was a lovely day.  But when it came to actually getting up and doing it… we both failed the willpower check.  Personally I am completely fine with this notion, that we both stayed in, ate three meals in, and overloaded on relaxation.  I hung out in my fuzzy blanket cocoon on the sofa and she upstairs in her loft of power (that you all will remember once it was my game loft). 

I have a feeling that once summer happens the roles will switch with me inhabiting my office and the loft and she the downstairs, but it is cool that we have our own places and are still within vocal range of each other.  I played a ton of World of Warcraft, attempted to play a closed beta I got into… but suffered from severe graphical issues that made it completely unplayable, and snuggled with my ferrets each and every time I passed their cage.

Accidental Achiever

2013-12-29 11_15_32-Achievements - Community - World of Warcraft 

I rarely if ever set out to master a tradeskill in a game, but instead it is a thing I usually do out of an odd sense of commitment more than anything.  Lately I had been on a mission to level my rogue so I could get a transcriptionist up high enough to be able to start making living steel.  I want the 30 bars that it takes to craft my Sky Golem pretty badly.  So yesterday I was not paying much attention was I was pushing my way to 600 alchemist when immediately after getting it, I also got the Master of All Achievement.  Sure enough… now that I think of it… I do have a max crafter of every profession.  The only disappointment is you get exactly nothing for it… except for 75 achievement points.

This is a pretty massive undertaking if someone was to actually set out specifically to do this achievement.  I think it is worthy of a crafting tabard, mount, or at the very least a title.  I feel like this is a pretty massive oversight on the part of blizzard.  Then again crafting is kind of its own reward.  Being completely self sufficient feels amazing.  Additionally you end up needing to hit the auction house far less often because your army of crafters can make damned near everything you would ever want made.  It is a pretty great feeling knowing that you can make an entire set of gear for a friend, as I did for Scarybooster yesterday.  In a matter of moments I had a starter set of gear for level 85 ready for him, and I did the same thing for my rogue Gloam.

A Vicious Sneak Thief

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Speaking of my rogue, I am roughly halfway through Jade Forest and as of yesterday am about halfway into 87.  I should finish up and ding 88 before I finish the area, and will likely skip Valley of the Four Winds entirely and go straight to Kun Lai Summit.  When I am trying to power my way through to 90 the path I tend to take is to milk every last drop of experience from Jade Forest, transition to Kun Lai immediately after and then transition to Townlong as soon as you get the quest starter to go there.  Finally this ends up with you either dinging 90 in Townlong or doing so just inside of Dread Wastes.  Granted this is complete shit for your quest completion, but I figure it also gives you a lot of “questing to make gold” time if you so choose it at max level since xp gets converted up to gold.

Granted I have yet to actually do that one of of my 90s… since as soon as I hit maximum level I start going through the paces of trying to gear out the character and such.  I am such a sucker for getting my characters those purples and am willing to sit through all manner of horrible LFR experiences just to do so.  I should however have most of a set of timeless leather stocked away and ready for this guy when he needs it.  I will just have to figure out how best to get the weapons.  This time around I will likely just craft him a set of 463 agi swords and call it good until I can get something decent from LFR.  Once I finish his leveling the characters I really need to work on are Belghast, Exeter and Belgarou as they are woefully behind Tallow and Belgrave in gear levels.  Oh well… the faffing about with my characters never seems to end.

Gloam the Conqueror

Handbag of Fury

HandbagOfFury

As mentioned yesterday we headed up to Joplin to go shopping and took my mother in law with us, since she wouldn’t tell us anything she actually wanted for Christmas.  The goal was to take her shopping and hopefully find something along the way.  This process involved me getting drug to a bunch of stores I would never actually visit on my own.  I brought my 3DS with me, but oddly enough I never actually used it.  I mostly piddled around on Twitter, Tumblr, and occasionally guild chat via the WoW Armory application.  I did pretty well for the first three or so stores, but after that I started hanging out in the car while they were shopping inside.

I am sure by doing this I missed numerous things that were photo worthy, but the highlight of the day was the above handbag.  It quite literally has a set of brass knuckles built into the clasp.  I am not sure if this was really intended for self defense, but it certainly would hurt like hell to get hit by that.  I tried to convince my wife that she needed it but she was un-swayed.  I am not sure how we ended up together, because if it were my choice there would be skulls on everything.  Hell I play a Deathknight…  that class is all about beating down things while wearing skulls.  My wife on the otherhand wants none of that nonsense.

I keep finding these awesome scarves with cute little skulls, and she is completely uninterested in them.  She is not exactly a girly girl… but I guess bedazzled skulls is a bit too far in the other direction for her.  Both her and her mother found several things during our trip, which is good.  I found a few interesting clearance Legos, but decided not to pick them up because really I would have just been picking them up for a few interesting parts… and had no interest at all in the thing they were intended to build.  These were originally 90 dollar sets that were selling for 40, but that still seemed a bit pricy to purchase just for a handful of nifty thingamajigs.

Gloam the Conqueror

Wow-64 2013-12-28 10-32-04-05

When I finally got home from the whirlwind trip of shopping madness I built myself a fuzzy little cocoon on my comfy sofa and settled in for some World of Warcraft.  I did my normal crafting cooldowns crawl, making sure everyone had created their trademarked rare daily craftable, before settling in on Exeter my Paladin Blacksmith.  The first goal of the night was to farm up the rest of the Motes of Harmony needed to craft two Ghost-Forged blades for my rogue.  While I was trying to get a hold of Fists of Fate, I was unable to do so and gave up on that mission settling for the two crafted blades instead.  I still think it is almost criminal at this point that Motes are not bind on account, since I seem to have way too many on some characters and never enough on others… but I have settled on a decent way to farm them.

MoteFarmHere

I badly photoshopped a map of The Dread Wastes to indicate where I go to farm motes.  There are supposedly better drop rates elsewhere in the world, but I find this to be my favorite spot.  Firstly no one is ever out here… granted by me saying this there will automagically be tons of people out there next time I need motes.  Secondly and quite possibly the most important reason… all this stuff is level 90, easy to kill and gives Black Prince reputation.  Most of my characters need this badly to be able to progress their way through the cloak quest chain.  Especially now that I have the repair mount, this is an awesome place to go mindlessly kill things and make tons of money doing it.  Additionally the mobs die pretty fast once you are in timeless isle gear and you can make a big loop of the island and by the time you reach the other side everything is completely full spawn again.

Finally I got my 40 motes and crafted the blades, enchanted them with windsong and was up and running on Gloam.  I have to say having the crafters to built a starter set of gear for Pandaria eases the transition.  You hit the ground running and are able to slaughter pretty much everything, even on the super squishy classes like the rogue.  I made my way through the first few sections of Pandaria before sleep claimed me.  My goal for the day is to make it through all of Jade Forest.  Not really sure if this will happen or not as today is supposed to be the last “nice” day for awhile, and I have a feeling I will get drug from my cocoon and out into the world.  If that happens no promises on how far I will make it on my goals.

Redragon Perdition

redragon 

At this point pretty much every MMO gamer is familiar with the Razer Naga and most are also familiar with the Logitech g600.  They each provide a different take on the concept of the large number of button MMO mouse.  Each has its strong points and its weaknesses.  The Razer for example, I have had three of them die in exactly the same way after about two years.  Similarly I recently had a g600 kick the bucket after about the same two year threshold, granted the g600 did not die so spectacularly.  The Nagas started “jumping” in that the cursor would mysteriously accelerate at high speeds in one direction or another.  The g600 on the other hand started missing mouse clicks.  One of the actions you do more than any in an MMO is holding down both the left and right mouse buttons to move forward.  The g600 would stop registering that my right mouse button was clicked and as a result I would stop forward movement.

When I was looking on amazon for a replacement, I noticed the Redragon Perdition, that literally looks like a combination of the best features of the Naga and the g600.  At the time it was a little over $20 cheaper than either of the other mice so I figured I would give it a chance.  The reviews were really favorable and it featured a naga like shape but with g600 style buttons.  The mouse itself was a little late getting to me, as it was shipping during our recent ice storms.  However when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the built quality.  This is after all in theory a chinese knockoff of a Naga and g600, but it is a very good one.  One of the problems I have with both the Naga and the g600 is that they don’t feel nearly as good as the old Logitech mx500 gaming mice.  These had a really great slightly rubberized pebbled texture to them, that just felt nice in the hand.

Much to my surprise the Perdition has almost this same texture.  Additionally like the mx500 it has counterweights that can be removed from the base of the mouse to give it a solid feel in your hand.  I find weight mice easier for me to use since I have extremely large hands.  The perdition also sports a truly insane 16400 dpi resolution… which I immediately had to scale back as it was insanely twitchy.  If you have ever wanted to play a game by barely moving your hand at all… then that might be the resolution for you.  Additionally the software that it comes with lets you customize pretty much everything about it, including creating damned near any possible color of LED light, and controlling the “throb” motion. 

So far I am a fan, I have gamed normally with it for roughly two weeks and it still feels great.  My only complaint so far is that middle clicking the mouse wheel requires more effort than any other mouse I have had.  Luckily I don’t really middle click anything but in my browser window to open new tabs.  However if this is a hotkey you regularly use in your keybindings, just be warned for my sausage like fingers… it takes quite a bit of pressure to get it to register a click.  I like the shoulder button quite a bit because it is comfortable to hit with the side of your finger, but not as prone to accidentally hitting as the third mouse button was on the g600.  If you are in the market for a new mouse and not opposed to taking a gamble on a chinese knockoff… I highly suggest you check it out.  I really am enjoying it so far.

Mecha Belgrave

Mecha Belgrave

WoW-64 2013-12-27 08-24-56-75

One of my big goals over the last few days was to get both Tallow and Belgrave through all four parts of Siege of Orgrimmar LFR.  Both of them could use gear out of there, and instead of piece-meal like before, I wanted to clear all of the bosses during this reset.  The other day I talked about how much success I had with Tallow in that he got both a mainhand and offhand weapon and two pieces of tier 16.  Yesterday I may have just blown that completely out of the water.  Previously on Belgrave I had gotten a shoulder drop, but was not using them as I had slightly better shoulders from flex.  Christmas day when I got home that evening, I popped into LFR and it inspired yesterdays topic on a social justice system.

However even though it had some frustration I managed to get Garrosh to drop two of the tokens that could be turned into any set piece.  I used those to give myself the tier 16 chest and legs, and then yesterday Nazgrim graced me with dropping the gloves token.  Just like that over the course of two days my Deathknight is wearing nearly a full set of tier 16.  I already had a helmet with the same graphic so for all intents and purposes I have a complete visual set.  I am really not sure what I think about the set, because honestly it feels a little out of place for being a Deathknight set.  Where are all the skulls?

Instead of being straight out of a deathmetal video…  I guess I am fresh from some manga?  I need to find a similarly mecha inspired two hander to go with it.  Thinking about maybe one of the ones from Ulduar… like Abaddon from Yogg Saron.  I am sure if I try hard enough I can find something suiting the look and feel of it.  Maybe it is just that it looks goofy on a worgen.  I remember seeing this in most of Qelric’s videos, and on her character it does not look half bad at all.  I feel that is the problem with most bestial races… the armor either looks really amazing or really awful.

Graduating the Cataclysm

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After finishing my tour of Siege of Orgrimmar for the week, I hopped over on Gloam and started working on him again.  I guess in a way for the good of the various raids I have been participating in… I felt like I needed to try and gear both Belgrave and Tallow.  In both cases I did very much so, and I figured I could take a break from LFR to work on my little rogue.  I managed to push him last night from 83 to 85 and finish off his Cataclysm era Alchemy.  I figure at some point soon I will farm up mass amounts of Pandaria materials and push him up in level to 600, but for now I am working on the leveling portion.  I would really like to find a pair of Fists of Fate to level him to 90 with, however there have been absolutely none of the auction house of late.  These carried my enhancement shaman all the way to 90, and I was still using them when I got my first epic weapon drop.

Instead in the mean time I guess I will make a pair of Ghost-Forged blades, which are not nearly as nice but should give me a decent boost through the Pandaria content.  The only problem is each takes 2 Spirits of Harmony, which are bind on pickup.  This means I will be out farming something that gives Black Prince reputation trying to collect four of them on my Paladin.  For whatever reason the characters that need them, cannot get them to drop… whereas the characters that have literally NO use for them like my Inscriptionist has 200.  This gives me a good excuse to get him to honored with the Black Prince, which is a normally tedious task.  I did however make a complete set of leather gear on my leatherworker so as soon as the blades are acquired I can begin my push to 90.

Onwards to Joplin

Needing to wrap up quickly this morning as we have a bunch of running around to do.  We are going to be running up to Joplin for a bit to check things out there.  I didn’t figure I would get time to do a blog post, but after showering and getting ready I decided to try and rush one through.  I had no clue what time we would be getting home, and after a day of running around the last thing I want to be is creative.  Hopefully you all had a great Christmas, and hopefully the loot gods have been smiling on you as well.

Social Justice

Happy Holidays?

Yesterday was a mixed bag, I am not going to get into the awkwardness that was Christmas with my family.  I should have taken a picture of the gallon jug of holy water that my grandmother for some reason seems to think she needs, however I did not as it would have been too obvious.  Suffice to say it was fine while it was just my parents and grandmother, but once people started showing up the fight or flight instinct kicked in and I had to get out of there.  We stayed long enough to be socially acceptable, or at least long enough to see everyone and then got back on the road.  I really don’t deal with large groups of people in confined spaces very well.

When I finally got home that night I went back to my LFR madness.  I really would have thought that the holidays would have made people better natured, but instead it seemed like only the worst people were running dungeons.  I guess it makes sense, as most of the “good” people probably have families and such that they would rather be spending time with.  The highlight of the evening, as far as horrible goes came when my Downfall group finally got to Garrosh.  We had a few people drop like usual, and one of the warriors  that joined in immediately started moaning that he had waited in queue for an hour and missed the entire dungeon.

Instead of doing the right thing, and just dropping group and taking the deserter debuff…  he proceeded to pull Garrosh while we were still getting prepared screaming “For Mother Russia”.  Obviously his ploy was to get us to kick him which doesn’t cause the debuff to happen.  He was running across the screen just about to aggro him again when the kick happened saving the day.  The problem is…  there needs to be a better way of managing this.  The systems in place don’t give us a way to flag this guy letting other people know that he will likely screw their group over if things don’t go his way.

Social Justice

TribunalCase League of Legends has had in the past the most notoriously toxic community in online gaming.  As a result they knew that this was ultimately hurting their product and keeping players from participating on a deep level with it.  Instead of sitting back and saying “pugs will be pugs” they took matters into their own hands and tried to devise a way of dealing with this.  As a result they created two systems that work hand in hand.  The honor system allows players to provide “endorsements” that are positive, such as Teamwork, Friendly, Knowledgeable, and at the same time provide a venue for reporting bad behavior.  When a player has received enough negative reports they go into another system called the Tribunal.

One of the problems with social reporting is that there is a sea of false positives and downright minor infractions that clog the customer support staff.  As a result the Tribunal system is innovative in that it brings each case before a jury of “peers” aka other players who have signed up to be willing to sit on these peer based juries.  You can view all of the results on the public Tribunal page if you are logged into your league account.  The image on the right side is an example of a tribunal ruling.  Of course warnings for language should apply as it states exactly what the player said during the match to warrant being reported.

Be Proactive Blizzard

These systems really do seem to work out in the wild, in fact with the big 2.1 patch in Final Fantasy XIV Squaresoft introduced a very similar endorsement system with some big rewards that can be gained through this positive behavior.  In the past there were unofficial systems on the servers that permanently labeled disruptive players as pariahs from the social circles.  There was a time where you could look at the guild a player was in and have a fair shot at gauging whether or not the player would be a positive influence on your group.  Additionally just talking to a player for a moment before inviting them to fill a group gave you a good idea of their future behavior.  When Blizzard introduced systems to automate these processes it completely removed the element of social ramifications, and such the “greater internet fuckwad theory” came true.

When it is perceived that there are no consequences for bad actions… players tend to behave worse.  Sure there are awesome people out there that are awesome all the time regardless of who is looking… but that is quite simply not the majority of people.  These systems work to bring a tally of someone’s misdeeds to bear each time they step into a group.  The guy who wiped the LFR because he didn’t want to be there… would bring with him a black mark from each and every player that flagged him for doing what he did.  I feel like blizzard does an excellent job of policing and banning players who are actively exploiting the game. 

However it is quite literally against their best interest to ban players who are paying them a monthly subscription.  Each time they ban one of these players they lose his money, and over time it adds up.  What systems like the tribunal do is introduce a neutral third party, the player.  The tribunal works because no only does it hold players accountable for their actions, but it also holds the players who are making these decisions accountable.  Every decision that is made, and the players who participated in making it is posted publicly for the world to see.  Since this relies on the players justice is usually far more swift than waiting for customer service to sift through their backlog of cases and deal with it.  It is my hopes that with the rollout of Warlords of Draenor, they will investigate a system like this, and hopefully make it applicable to ALL battle.net games..

Santa RNG

The Sidewalks Roll Up

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This holiday is considerably different than most.  Always there is a natural flow to the events, but due to my Aunt needing dialysis it has completely changed the order of things.  Traditionally last night I would have been up with my family, as they have always celebrated on Christmas Eve.  Traditionally we would go to “midnight mass” that actually happened about 7 pm, and then retire to my grandmothers house afterwards for awkward conversation and eventually even more awkward gift exchange.  During this my uncles would get into the cherished conversation of “why this random thing I own, is better than this other random thing you own” or “who hates ethnic groups more” or even the more recent “random insane government conspiracy theory”.  One of my uncles spins these grand tales of conspiracy that are delivered in way that they almost sound cogent… until you realize that the keystone of his argument is completely batshit crazy.

Now however the game has changed, as we did not spend last night with them… but are instead supposed to go up today.  Which pushes aside my wife’s family gathering… but that is a tale for another day.  This left us at home, by ourselves for the first time in years on a Christmas Eve.  We did not exactly plan well for this occurrence and as about 7:30 rolled around we decided we were hungry, and that nothing at all in the house sounded good.   Which is slightly insane, since we keep silly amounts of food on hand that could be prepared with minimal effort.  I got bundled up and went out into the cold night in search of sustenance. 

We have a saying here that the “sidewalks roll up” as a way of saying that the town is completely quiet and no business is being transacted.  Last night it quite literally felt as though the sidewalks had rolled up.  The only businesses open were Walgreens and Taco Bueno… and the line there extended quite a long ways across the now empty Reasors grocery store parking lot.  Seems like there were other people trying to find food on Christmas Eve.  Slightly forlorn I returned home and cobbled together something to eat out of the banquet of things we have laying around the house.  This morning when I went out to forage I was feeling no more positive that it would not occur again, however I successfully scrounged two sausage rolls and a jump start of caffeine to get us both going.

Santa RNG

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I would have thought that maybe last night players would have felt a wee bit more charitable since it was in fact Christmas Eve.  However if anything it seemed to make the assholes more assholish, and the clueless even more lacking.  I got to listen to more than one variation of the “you all suck” speech, but I dealt with it, because like I have said before playing DPS lets me compartmentalize my world.  I only care about the objective and achieving that objective, and since I am not tanking or healing and by default only responsible for myself… I can just zone in on that job and perform it.  I have lamented over the last few weeks how I have been unable to get weapons for my Enhancement Shaman.  So yesterday I soldiered on in the effort of trying to fill those gaps.

It might have been in the spirit of the season,  or maybe I just finally hit a lucky spot in the random number generator… but for whatever reason Santa RNG paid out big-time.  First I managed to pull the extremely cool looking Softfoot’s Last Resort from the protectors event.  Not very long after that I managed to pull the Seismic Bore mace from the Iron Juggernaut encounter.  So in one night I managed to bump both of my weapons up to decent levels and can now actually chart on the damage meters.  Thing is… Santa RNG was not finished quite yet.  Over the course of the evening I managed to pick up two pieces of the Tier 16 Shaman set the Shoulders and then finally the Chestpiece.  I still have a few slots that have 496 gear in them, but at this point there are not that many.  I have reached the point where Throne of Thunder really has no benefit at all for me, so I can simply focus on doing Siege each week.  I might have to do one last run however to pick up my final sigil of power.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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So while I might sound sullen at the moment, I am sure as the day moves on I will enjoy myself.  Right now we are trying to get up and about and out the door so we can be long gone from my grandmothers house by the time my uncles show up.  As a result I need to finish this post up, get showered and ready and gather up the gifts.  I hope you all have a really awesome holiday, and that if you didn’t get what you wanted… you at least got what you needed.  I personally got exactly what I needed…  some time off work and the freedom to mill about the house peacefully.  Other than that anything else I gain from the holiday is gravy.  Hopefully you have a wonderful day surrounded by loved ones and blanketed in goodies.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and if you don’t read my blog again before then…  have a very Happy New Year.

AARP: Loved by Children Everywhere

Star Trek Fashions

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TNGDress I am getting a far later start this morning in blogging.  I warned my twitter followers that my morning post would end up being an afternoon post, but since this gets syndicated on all the platforms… apologies to the rest of you who were expecting a post early.  Why did it get delayed you might ask?  Well we had to get up and around and get some last minute things done.  Thankfully the activities gave me what I refer to as “blog fodder”.  Be warned I am not exactly going on chronological order here, but bear with me.

Firstly… I know that geeks are sexy, or at least that is what the media keeps telling me.  That said… when did it become cool for women to look like Star Trek: The Next Generation?  I realize that the recent movies were blockbusters of serious magnitude.  I did now however expect Star Trek fashion to trickle out into the mainstream.  The above shirts are from Cato, one of the places we stopped this morning looking for various sundry items.  Actually we went there to buy an item they no longer have… but that isn’t really important.  What is important is I cannot get the image of a Star Trek uniform out of my head when looking at these shirts.

BobaFettTop To the right is a similar dress that I found earlier in the season at Target.  If you follow me on twitter or G+ I am sure you saw me post it.  If not here it is in all of its TNG glory.  If Data were female she would totally be sporting this dress.  Then again the more I think about it… none of the women on TNG wore dresses at all, but instead got the unisex jumpsuits everyone else wore.  I guess you would have to go back to the classic series or the reboot movies to find dresses at all.  The trend however may not be entirely limited to Star Trek.  I cannot see the t-shirt on the right without thinking Boba Fett.

Granted these could just be hallucinations as I have spent more time of late in clothing stores than I would ever care to.  My wife has been on this mission to look “more put together”, and she has gone through a similar physical transition as I have losing almost 50 lbs.  I completely support whatever goals she happens to have, but I find myself extremely bored most of the time and when I get bored my mind wanders.  As a result I am probably just trying to make these things into something more palatable.  I have been having to draw on my art school background in helping her pick out things that “go together” without strictly matching.  I keep having to remind my wife that the experience is not nearly as exciting for me as it is for her.

AARP:  Loved by Children Everywhere

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Another jaunt of this morning while we were out and about was to go by and get our hair cut.  For me it had been extremely long and I was looking rather scruffy.  To be truthful I cannot tell you exactly when I last got it cut.  We went to our normal place and signed up on the list, waiting for a friend of ours to get free.  Personally it is worth the wait for Mandy, who is extremely popular… in part because I can simply say “make me look presentable” and that means something to her.  She translates well, and I find the ability invaluable… and since I tend to go extremely late I always feel like I need to leave her an extremely good tip.

While waiting there, I got to watch an entire family getting their hair cut.  The parents didn’t really look old enough to have three kids, but honestly that was the least of my worries.  You would think if one parent was getting their hair cut, the other one would be in the waiting room corralling the kids.  This however was not on their radar at all.  They sat back talking to the beautician and bellowing command rather ineffectually at their offspring that were roaming around the waiting room and generally running amok.

I don’t remember exactly which of the kids began this, but they found their way to the basket of magazines sitting beside my wife and I.  Each of them picked out a magazine carefully, and when it came time for the youngest girl she took extra care.  She rifled through the basket tossing aside several magazines before arriving at her prize.  When she took up she held lovingly clasped in her hands a copy of AARP Magazine.  The look of beaming pride on her face only made the scene all that more hilarious.  It was all I could do to keep from laughing. 

The magazines however didn’t hold their attention long.  It was only a matter of minutes until they were back running around the waiting room in a big circle.  I am not sure what exactly happened but next time I looked up the littlest one was sitting in the floor crying.  I am guessing that she could not keep up with the rough housing and got knocked down.  It was only when there were tears flowing that the absentee parents finally paid enough attention to bark additional orders at their kinder.  I realize I am a non-parent, and I am that way by choice… but I would like to think that if I did have kids I would actually pay some manner of attention to them.

Home At Last

I am finally back home and wrapped back up in my cocoon.  Since the weight loss I have been inordinately colder natured, and as a result I now have a fuzzy blanket wrapped around my backside and another fuzzy blanket laid over top of me.  It makes it a pain in the ass to get up off the couch but man is it nice and toasty warm.  This of course is along with my flanel pants. and thermal henley…  I am maybe overdressed for the fact that we do have heat.  I am not sure what is on the radar today.  I have various sundry betas that I could be playing, or I could just hop into World of Warcraft once the servers come back up.  I am assuming they did maintenance today, however since it is Christmas Eve I am not sure if that would be the case.

Speaking of Christmas… I will be posting tomorrow like normal, but if you are too busy with your own family to read my blog… I want to take the time right now to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  Most of the time I feel like I am talking to myself here, but I am constantly surprised at just how many loyal readers I have.  You all mean the world to me, and while I would probably keep blogging even if I had no audience at all…  you make me feel far less crazy in this endeavor.  I hope you all have a great holiday tomorrow, and that you are blanketed by loved ones.  We will be travelling a bit, but will not be terribly far from home.    Here is hoping the next few days are joyous… or at the very least tolerable.

I Hate People

Plans are a Crutch

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I had these plans yesterday of running the last part of Siege of Orgrimmar, but didn’t actually do that at all.  I queued for it at one point, but after seeing it would take an hour I bailed and gave up.  After being iced in for several days, we were out of a few things… not the least of which was toilet paper and paper towels.  The above picture is to show the extent of the icing… for years I have gotten in the habit of raising my wiper blades so they don’t get frozen to the window.  As you can see it is like everything had been sealed in plastic to preserve it for eternity.  If nothing else I knew I had to clear the vehicles so we could leave if we absolutely needed to. 

It actually did not take as long as I expected.  I went outside in my pajamas and started my jeep, then went back inside to take a shower and get ready for the morning.  When I got back out the heater inside and engine had managed to warm the ice up enough to where I could start breaking it off rather easily.  Roughly 20 minutes later I had cleared my Jeep and was headed back inside to let my wife’s vehicle warm up.  I could barely feel my fingers…  but it was at least clear.  When I cleared my wife’s vehicle I had the foresight to actually wear gloves.

We made it out of the house pretty easily, and I have to say this is the weirdest ice storm I have ever experienced.  Everything is absolutely coated in a layer of ice… the trees, the vehicles, the grass, anything elevated even slightly off the ground.  However the roads are almost completely dry.  It is like the perfect ice storm… all of the pretty with none of the consequences.  Granted some parts of the city are out of power as the ice snapped powerlines… so they would definitely question my assessment of no consequences.  All in all however it could be been and likely should have been much worse.

I Hate People

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I mean this in the nicest possible way… but I hate people.  When you put me in a room with more than a half a dozen people a severe fight or flight instinct triggers.  Now imagine how that instinct multiplies when you put me in a busy store during the holidays filled with hundreds of people.  I am generally pretty good at swallowing down that feeling, but the more stores you expose me to… the more of an asshole I become.  I am thankful that my wife realizes this because by the time we reached the last two stores of the day I am sure I was an absolute bear to be around.  We had several things still to pick up on our list, so while we were out and about… and since we were both going a little stir crazy we decided to try and knock as many things off the list as possible.

Target was both the worst and the best place we went all afternoon.  It was the worst because it was inanely busy and as I rounded the corner near the seasonal area… the instinct kicked in harder than it has in years.  There was this huge zombie-like shambling mass of people migrating back and forth between toys and electronics.  I gave up on any notion that I was going to go check the Lego isle and got out of there as soon as possible. It became a logistical exercise to even navigate my shopping cart through the narrow passages left by gawking customers.  I suddenly realized why a lost child just sits down and cries… because at that point I seriously did feel like surrendering to the hopelessness that was all of those people pressing in on me.

That was the worst part… the best part however is just how efficiently they were managing the checkouts.  They had roped off the area in front of the cash registers and while this caused the line to snake all the way down to the pharmacy area, it did make it move faster.  They had a worker acting like a traffic cop to funnel people down the little shoots and to the next waiting cashier.  Additionally they gave us a 10% discount as an apology for the whole credit card fiasco.  Since we were actually hit during that event…  I felt like we had more than earned it.  Last weekend my discover card was off in Oklahoma City and Norman making purchases without me… and we are assuming since we still have our credit cards… it is tied to the whole Target event.

I probably would have gone postal at some point during yesterday, but we went to eat at Monterry, a Mexican chain restaurant we go to regularly.  When I say regularly… I mean it, because the waitresses know our order by heart and often times fight over who is going to wait on us.  Yesterday we had Daisy, who is extremely awesome and has the same pen fetish that my wife does.  Over the time we have been going there, we have become rather social with them… and eating there act like a reset of my buffer.  It was a happy place that helped me cope with the madness that was stores like Old Navy.  Still by the time we ended our tour at Big Lots, I was so far past going that I am sure I was acting like an ass.

Relaxing with Friends

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Yesterday before the madness began, I noticed that my good friend Vernie had managed to hit 90 on his mage.  I did my normal song and dance about how awesome the Timeless Isle was for catching up, but as a very squishy class it seemed that soloing out there was just not something viable.  We made tentative plans for me to grab one of my characters and help him get some gear after I got back from the holiday craziness.  It was shortly after I got home that he logged back in and we did just that.  At first I tried to use Exeter my paladin, but I quickly realized that I already had gotten the weekly chests when I swam him out to get the chest in the pirate cave.  I grabbed Belgarou my druid, because I knew I had not really played him in a few weeks. 

It turns out that this was a great call as I ran out of leather some time ago and could greatly use a run to replenish it.  We faffed about the island for several hours and in the process we managed to get him Helm, Chest, Bracers, Belt, Gloves, Back, Legs, Ring and Trinket.  Which in itself was a pretty amazing haul for our first outing.  He had not really played since Cataclysm, so there are a ton of systems that simply did not exist back then.  The big one is the LFR system, so as we hunted for gear on the island we queued for Mogushan Vaults.  The queue was surprisingly short and we managed to make it through the three boss raid in extremely quick time.

I guess the game did not want him to have an unrealistic view of how the LFR system worked, because when we queued up for the second part of the raid… it went horribly.  Someone pulled the boss too quickly, the tanks had no clue what they were doing… and we wiped.  Moments after the wipe the raid just disintegrated in a matter of seconds.  I told him that sadly that was also extremely common.  While we waited for that raid to officially die we went out to Dinosaur Island… or more properly Isle of Giants.  We had zero luck in both pets and eggs, but we killed quite a few and I got some more leather.  I am not sure if it was in the first raid or the second… but at some point Vernie managed to pick up shoulders.

During the course of our faffing about he managed to go from 450 something to 474 and if we can get him a few more upgrades he should be able to start doing Throne of Thunder…. which I think is one of the more enjoyable instances of the expansion.  After we finished the second raid, that went surprisingly successfully.  Elegon managed to eat a half dozen people to the “floor boss”, but all in all we pulled out a win.  Will of the Emperor was a wipe at first, namely because the tanks didn’t really know what they were doing.  However someone luckily explained to them and we managed to pull that victory out as well.  All in all it was a really fun night, and I was happy that we got Vernie a ton of upgrades in the process.  Once again Faffing about pays off.

Beatstick Acquired

Ice Ice Baby

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We are still functionally iced in, at least in the way that everything outside is coated in a thick layer of ice… including both vehicles.  This has been the weirdest storm however as it has clung to everything but the concrete.  Additionally the temperatures have remained at just the right place to keep the ice from melting.  This means for the most part the roads are completely fine.  It is just lack of caring that has kept us in the house.  By the manifest restlessness upstairs from my wife, I have a feeling this is coming to an end today.  We honestly need to get out and about to pick up the last few gifts in order to be done for the holidays.

Right now on twitter, I have the name “Belgrinch Stole Xmas” and to some extent it is not just clever use of my existing naming convention.  I tend to be a big of a humbug when it comes to the holidays.  Over the years bad things seem to fall near the holidays, and when you combine that with the fact that Christmas as an adult is a massive let down if you don’t have children.  My wife and I have not put up a tree in over a decade.  For children, Christmas still is a magical time but for me I just see the hassle of having to run between four households and shop for a bunch of people you literally only see once a year.  I wish so much we could make Christmas be Thanksgiving 2.0.

Thanksgiving is pretty much my ideal holiday.  People get together to share a meal together, and there is no expectations past that.  You just have some good food, good conversation and then everyone goes on their merry ways.  Instead we have an awkward exchange of time as everyone tries to avoid the inevitable gift exchanges.  This year because of my aunt’s dialysis the timing is all messed up.  Normally we do all of this on Christmas eve, but instead this year everything is pretty tentative.  We considered going up tomorrow so we could just spend time with the family members we want to without the rest of the three ring circus.  For me it is about spending time with my parents and my grandmother…  past that it just gets progressively more and more awkward.  Namely I am trying to avoid being around my bigoted uncles as they seriously destroy what little inner peace I have… and make me feel absolutely dirty for being around them.

Beatstick Acquired

I have chronicled the hunt for one-handed weapons over the last few weeks.  My guildies and I have been running daily Heroic Scenarios for a shot at the 516 weapons that can drop there.  Additionally I have been working my way through both Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar.  Yesterday I spent most of the day queued for the various ToT dungeons that have a chance of dropping a weapon.  Turns out the in game loot advisor thingy doesn’t list everything.  It seems there is a series of weapons that can drop off every single boss in the instance, and after killing Jinrohk yesterday I managed to get one of them.  The mace pictured above is Zeeg’s Ancient Kegsmasher and comes from that list of alternative drops.  While not ideal, I wish it was a 2.6 speed weapon and not the awkward 2.4 speed… but it is better than what I had and I am extremely happy to get it.

Additionally I managed to get through the Underhold section of Siege of Orgrimmar which unlocks The Downfall and a shot at another one-hander off of the Klaxxi council event.  I am honestly not sure what it is about Underhold, but every single group I would get into would spontaneously disintegrate shortly after finishing Malkorok.  There always seems to be either a mass exodus immediately after finishing the boss, or after failing that first time to Spoils of Pandaria.  Last night… fairly late… I actually managed to find a group that oneshot every single encounter there… including captain lunchmeats himself… Thok.  I won’t lie, I am not sure if I will actually ever queue for Underhold again unless a guild member needs it for something.  The queue is around an hour generally, and with the lacklustre success rate it seems like a bundle of frustration I can simply live without.

Christmas Gifts Abound

So I am bad at this… let me start out by saying that up front.  My intent in this section is not to be “look what soandso go me, neener neener” so you are going to see some thank yous, without me actually listing who they are directed to.  I figure the people read my blog and they will know it is heart felt and directed at them.  First up someone very awesome got me Talisman Prologue from my steam list.  This is a game that I have thought about picking up so many times in the past but never pulled the trigger.  I love the Talisman board game, and even the crappy american version that Milton Bradley released called Hero’s Quest.  Despite how much frustration I have built up over the years… I am still a massive fanboy for Games Workshop and Talisman seems to be one of their purest gaming experiences.  Really looking forward to seeing how well the digital version translates.

I am a massive sucker for the sandboxy shooter experience.  Everything I have heard from friends and read has said that Farcry 3 really takes this whole concept up a notch.  As a result this is one of those titles I have almost bought half a dozen times.  But thanks to another amazing friend the decision was made for me.  Again I plan on devoting some of my two weeks of downtime to exploring this game.  Quite honestly… I have stuff on my steam wishlist as more of a reminder to myself, and because steam emails you when one of those titles goes on sale.  I never in a million years expected anyone to buy me something off of it.  Thank you guys very much, it made me feel loved.

Last but definitely not least…  the League of Legends Mystery Gift madness is back in full swing again.  For those of you who are not indoctrinated, you can send a friend a random skin for one of the champions they have.  The price is 450 RP but you are guaranteed to get a skin that is of higher value, but it will be assigned completely at random.  The coolest part about it is there is a chance of getting skins that have long been retired or for whatever reason removed from the game.  One of the skins I have always wanted but never picked up is Chosen Master Yi.  Who doesn’t want to play as a Jedi Knight?  Huge thanks to another good friend for sending me a mystery box and giving me this awesome skin.