For awhile I have talked about my rockstar teacher of a wife and the forensics class she is pioneering with another teacher this year. Yesterday I got drafted into helping her make various kinds of fake blood. Essentially we needed to find a ready simulacrum for the real thing, that could be produced cheaply and efficiently. So for awhile yesterday I kitchen turned a little horror show. I was employed in the mixing part, since I could shake the bottles fast enough to get them to mix. This is my preferred way of mixing almost anything, including the constant flow of cherry pomegranate drink mix that I imbibe. Some of the mixtures were winners and some were very much not.
Of the various recipes available we tried three primarily. The first one I had experience with in the past, and I didn’t think it would be the kind of blood she was wanting. I used to work in a fundraiser haunted house and we mixed buckets of water, karo syrup and red food coloring to make gore to slop on everything. This of course is way thicker than human blood and as a result doesn’t perform in any way similar. Next we tried a mixture of sweet condensed milk, and red food coloring. This was a little better but still way too thick, but it was a big grizzly to watch my wife eat spoonfuls of the red ichor. Apparently she thought it tasted good.
The final winner was evaporated milk and red food coloring. Granted all of these produced pinkish blood but apparently adding a little bit of green will correct the color. She tested the products against a vial of simulated lab blood that she got from a forensics supply house and the evaporated milk performed similarly. Today over lunch I have an errand to go pick up a pint of fake blood from a local party store. We had tried this earlier but the only place that had it was in gallon size… and extremely expensive. We wanted to test it out before committing to buying it in bulk. My hope is that the premade stuff will be best so we don’t have to mix anymore at home. But at the very least it lead to an interesting evening.
Among other things, lately I have been poking my head onto my little Dwarven Warlock a bit. I am still phenomenally bad at playing casters, and the warlock is no exception. However having a Felguard makes up for a lot of my own mistakes. He just quietly kicks everything’s ass while I flail around trying to mash the correct buttons. Something I find interesting, is that in the past I have tried my best to skip outlands entirely… I am actually enjoying the content. Maybe it is the idea that I know I will be revisiting everything in Warlords, but the entire expansion somehow feels fresher. I have a feeling with this guy that it will be Wrath that becomes pure skull drudgery.
I am not really sure I landed on this character to level, after all I have both a Discipline Priest and a Hunter within striking distance of 90. Ultimately I would still like to get everything up to 90 before Warlords but my Mage. The mage is my intended boost target, because while I struggle playing a Warlock, I would be an absolute disaster playing a Mage. Characters that can be described as “glass cannons” have never appealed to me in the least. However I hear that frost provides a much sturdier alternative, given that they now have a permanent pet to watch after them. To say the least I have been enjoying being bad at warlocking.
Interesting Changes a Brewing
I am honestly not sure how much of this I can talk about, so I will have to get some clarification on the NDA I am presently under before delving into it too deeply. However I will say that there are some significant changes in the starter experience in the works that will hopefully make a lot of people happy. One of the big complaints from the various test weekends is that it feels too on rails for too long. While I said you can hop off the rails at any point you like and level away. I have done a fair bit of my leveling by just killing random mobs out in the world and mostly ignoring the quests, it still feels like you are lead down a slowly widening tunnel until finally at some point you get dumped into what is the “real” game for the rest of the 50 levels. One thing I have to say is that overall… the Zenimax folks have been extremely responsive to feedback.
That is one of the aspects of this testing process that most people just won’t understand. The game has changed a lot over the last year, and for the better. While there are features missing that I would have liked to see, almost all of those are User Interface based and have been successfully added back into the game with addons. The core game itself is extremely clean, and if you play the game on a server that is not screaming because they are purposefully stressing it to the maximum… the game performs admirably and combat feels great. The negative is a lot of the clunky combat comments that people have are during weekends where they are purposefully trying to break the systems, and combat fluidity decreases under extremely stressed situations.
I think a lot of people are going to be happy with the proposed changes. I however have been in the minority and felt that the starter island experience for each of the races was an extremely good experience. Each of the islands, and I use that term loosely since each faction starts slightly differently… is chock full of interesting things to find and quests that you would not receive if you did not go out and explore off the beaten path. I still cannot say with any certainty that I have ever gotten 100% of the content on any one of the islands, let alone all of them. But I can understand the complaint that it just doesn’t feel Elder Scrollsy to exit the prison sequence and be dumped into another controlled setting. Cold Harbor does a good job of teaching you the basics, and a prison intro is one of the key requirements of “being an Elder Scrolls Game”.
Belghast the Band Geek
The title pretty much says it all, I was a band geek. For those not familiar with the American education system, the term Middle School refers generally to grades six through eight, and is some what of a transition period to get students used to having specific classes with different teachers, rather than a single teacher doing everything. As part of this time period we were essentially funneled towards various electives. During that sixth grade year we had to take a number of elective classes including vocal and instrumental music. While I did manage to get a lead role in one of the musicals… which I did horribly at, I was far more comfortable behind an instrument in a much larger group.
I began my musical career, if you can call it that.. playing the trombone, because face it… trombones are cool. I did well enough to be second chair, and I was fine there… good enough to be recognized as being decent, without having to deal with the pressure of leading the section. This was fine and good until I had a major sinus surgery in seventh grade, and buzzing sound needed to play trombone was something the doctor said would be extremely painful for me for quite some time. As a result I ended up transitioning to the percussion section. To be honest… I had always wanted to be a drummer, but my mother played percussion in high school and told me that by far the short end of the stick as far as band goes. I should have listened, but of course I was smarter and knew better.
She was absolutely right… when you march a several mile parade route with a woodwind or a brass instrument you spend most of the time carrying it by your side. If you march as a drummer, you end up playing a cadence non-stop the entire route. Being a big guy, I somehow ended up being picked to play the cymbals during parades. Sure you are thinking… cymbals are a joke of an instrument… but imagine marching for miles while carrying a 20 pound cymbal in each hand… attached by a leather thong that makes it impossible to get a good grip on it. Then having to bang them together… all the while not dropping the beat of the cadence. It was absolute hell, and by the end of a parade route like that I literally could not feel my arms for hours.
Luckily however parade routes like that were few and far between, and namely during the Christmas season only. After coming back from Christmas break I finally got to have some fun. It began concert season and somehow I managed to get picked to play the Timpani drums. I loved the sound of them, and it felt so primal to bang on them with my tiny felt donut covered sticks. This was the part of band that I really enjoyed. I finally felt like I had a real purpose. I got good at tuning the Timpani drum, and as we did the various contests that came with concert season I became a critical part of the setup crew. Some kids are truly gifted in band, but I did just good enough to be respectable without ever really shining. I managed to make all district several times, but never really pushed hard enough to make all state. While I played drums for a few bands, I never really kept with it… apart from occasionally drumming on my steering wheel while driving.