Lost in Maguuma

Wanderlust

starwarslego_atap Yesterday was a bit of a busy day for many reasons.  Firstly getting home super late Saturday night, and then recording AggroChat extremely late, meant that more or less I just straight up crashed instead of editing the recording.  This meant first thing yesterday morning I had to edit the podcast and post it.  After that I of course still had a blog to write, and needed to spend some time working on another article as well.  Throughout all of this there were two problems.  Firstly I had a splitting headache the likes of which I have not seen in almost a year.  Secondly it was absolutely gorgeous outside, with the temperatures rising up to roughly 80* F yesterday.  So my wife and I hemmed and hawed as to whether or not we would actually go do anything.  Finally around 3pm yesterday afternoon we decided to get outside and go wandering about.

I’ve talked about the fact that any town of a decent size around me has a Wal-mart.  It has always been this way, because quite honestly I live in the Wal-mart heartland, with Bentonville the home office only about two hours away.  The first first Wal-mart supercenter in existence is about 30 minutes away in the town of Wagoner for example.  Big Wal-mart stores are boring, utilitarian and predictable… but going to smaller less shopped stores often provides this strange melange of products that they still have on the shelf.  Each store has a certain amount of discretion as to what they can clearance, so this means that shopping multiple stores might yield completely different results.  As such a few times of the year it is prime territory for hunting down clearance Legos.

We set forth on an adventure that took us through three very small locations, and while my wife found more interesting stuff than I did, at the second store…  a store I had good luck with last year…  I managed to pick up a couple of really cool Star Wars sets at a deep discount.  First up I found the Lego AT-AP walker which was originally $60 for the much more reasonable price of $30.  Then at a considerably worse deal I picked up the originally $25 General Grievous Wheel Bike set for $19… which admittedly I only jumped at because the General Grievous figure is just so badass looking.  This season honestly has been pretty slim pickings, largely because Wal-mart has started doing this annoying thing.  They will throw something on clearance… and change the sticker color to red…  but have the item marked at its normal price.  Essentially I look up each Lego set and if the savings is not 50% off I generally don’t jump at it.  This has netted me some pretty cool finds like the SWTOR Sith Fury for $60 but in order to find them… you have to be diligent, and for me the fun is more about the hunt than the finding.

Lost In Maguuma

Gw2 2015-02-09 06-06-51-36 One of the other things of note that happened yesterday while watching the return of Walking Dead is that I managed to hit level 60 on my Warrior in Guild Wars 2.  I am still knee deep in the Maguuma jungle region and right now I find myself shifting between Sparkfly Fens and Bloodtide Coast, largely be cause the Fens simply got too “big” for me as I kept wandering into level 62 areas and having to deal with constant glancing blows.  This leaves me 20 levels to go before I hit the Guild Wars 2 endgame, whatever that might be.  One of the things that has always bothered me about this game is that I never managed to max a character out.  Eighty levels is a rather daunting task, especially when you don’t find yourself really enjoying the game play.  That said I am generally known for having multiple max level characters in any game I play, so it felt like a weak spot in my armor that I could not stomach the grind in this one game.

Maguuma region is a bit of a slog, which has me concerned for the Heart of Thorns expansion.  I really do not like Jungle or Swamp regions in video games.  I was having a blast so long as I stuck to the snowy peaks of the Norn regions, but once I wandered into the swampy zombie filled wasteland…  the fun factor of the game went down significantly.  Here is hoping that I can stomach it just enough to graduate into the higher zones.  All of the guides I have read say that I should really be doing dungeons to level…  but I am admittedly scared of them.  The shitty dungeon experience was what ended up killing the game for me the first time.  Right now I am enjoying the soloing over world gameplay style, and I am afraid if I go into the dungeons again… and they end up still being the chaotic and exploitative mess that they were originally… that it will enrage me enough to halt my journey.

The Real Game

Albion-Online 2015-01-29 23-14-44-84 One of the biggest frustrations for me when it comes to online games is when a massive shift in the way the game feels happens.  Most games have this highly tailored starter experience to ease players into the game, and then something happens as though the really polished section of the game flew away.  Sometimes this transition is gradual, and other times it is quite literally like having the bottom dropped out from under you.  I’ve not written much about Albion Online because to some extent I fell off that rather steep cliff.  The first two tiers of content felt really fun and natural as I wandered around the world collecting resources to be able to craft nifty things.  Then I reached tier 3… and the fun drained away quickly.  The game up until that point had been around gathering materials and lugging them back to town so that you could use the crafting machines and fashion them into whatever you might like.  When you hit Tier 3, the crafting machines start charging you a fee to use them.  This is the equivalent of having to pay every time you need to use the anvil in a World of Warcraft town.

The problem with this is that there really aren’t that many gold fountains that I have seen so far, but the machine problem ends up to be a rather massive gold sink.  Granted at this point I don’t even know if there is such a thing as gold in the game… because I have only managed to gather up a few silver to my name.  Admittedly this is their pricing scheme… to get players to purchase gold, to ease the process of playing the game.  According to the pricing listed on the founders pack information, it looks like $20 would get you 4500 gold, and $50 would get you 12,000 gold.  Not that either of these is an absolutely insane price for what seems to be the purchasing power that gets you, but I have essentially stopped playing because I quickly realized this game was unsustainable without either grinding bandits for days…  or plunking down some cold hard cash for a game that was only mildly enjoyable in the first place.  This is a bit of a shame, because really Albion does have some really interesting ideas at work.  I might piddle with it off and on still to see just how deep  the money chasm is, but if nothing else for the time being it has most definitely halted my forward momentum.

Rocket Powered Hoverboard

Baby’s First Diablo

LMO 2014-06-20 06-09-20-013 It is no real secret that I love Lego, as I sit in an office full of sets waiting to be built and have an army of minifigures decorating my cube at work.  So when I first heard that Funcom, the makers of my beloved Secret World were working on a brand new game revolving around the random minifigures bags that I already buy way too often…  I figured I would be throwing money at the screen.  A good friend of mine managed to get into the alpha and without saying much about it specifically she said it was extremely cute and charming.  That about sums it up perfectly…  oh and you might throw in adorable.  I love the whole “toy store come to life” vibe that you get while playing the first level.  You start off with one of three sets of minifigures, I ended up going for the roman soldier, because he is already one of the favorite minifigures I own.

I am not sure who exactly coined the phrase, but so far “Baby’s First Diablo” has stuck, and that is not to diminish anything about the game.  It feels very much like a diablo style version of the various “Lego” franchise branded video games.  You break up blocks to get resources and stars in this case instead of coins.  Then you use special “builder” type minifigures to construct objectives.  You can have three minifigures equipped at a time, and right now my team consists of the Roman Soldier that has a charge and a melee swing, the Fortune Teller who is one of those special builder types, and the Bee Girl that drops adorable honey bombs and attacks enemy legos with swarms of bee ranged attacks.

It seems like the game is going to use a model similar to league of legends in that you buy champions in the form of minifigures packs.  The only gotcha is that I assume they will be just as random as the actual in store variety is.  So if I had to guess you can probably end up with duplicates, but I have no clue at all how that will work.  Will you be able to trade your dupes with other players, or will they have some sort of a deconstruction ability to turn them into resources…  or are they just going to go with “smart random” in that you never have the chance of getting a minifigure you already have.  In that case it would mean you would simply need to buy 16 packs of each type and would eventually get the full set.  This is definitely going to be a game I watch as the open beta continues.

Rocket Powered Hoverboard

WildStar64 2014-06-20 06-18-05-408 Just like Griff Tannen in Back to the Future… my hoverboard’s got power.  Last night I dinged 25 and was finally able to claim both the preorder hoverboard and the deluxe edition hoverboard.  Surprisingly I think I like the deluxe edition quite a bit better.  Originally I upgraded to deluxe when I thought I would be sticking around for awhile, and I guess I am happy I did so.  On the chua it seems so much cooler looking than the original human preview picture did.  I guess the difference is that the preview shots didn’t really have actual in game lighting applied to them, so they made everything look that much more gold and gaudy.  In game it looks pretty cool and as short and fat as my chua is… the regular hoverboard just looks too small for him.

WildStar64 2014-06-20 06-42-26-568 So far moving out of Auroria has breathed new life into the game because I did not really understand at the time just how bored with that zone I was.  It’s weird because I absolutely loved Deredune but couldn’t be bothered to care about Auoria at all.  Now I am in something much more my style the traditional “snowy” zone.  For whatever reason I seem to have an affinity for the snow  zones in games be it Iron Pine Peaks or Winterspring… that usually ends up as my favorite leveling destination.  Additionally I’ve installed a number of mods that make following the quest chains a bit easier so I expect that I will stay on track a little better rather than endlessly chasing rabbit trails.  I am still firmly in the middle of the pack level wise, but there are several that are now into their 30s, so I keep feeling the need to “catch up”.

Battlefield Hardline

Game trailers are pretty much all lies, but even knowing that this one gave me hope that we might see an interesting shooter to play.  You have to understand that my ideal shooter is one of the Enemy Territory series games, where you have real “objectives” that have to be completed in order to progress the map.  Based on this footage and folks using the term objective based shooter… I had hopes that this might be a return to that gameplay style.  So I applied for the beta and got accepted to play it on the Playstation 4.  Within a few minutes of gameplay all of those hopes were dashed.  This game is pretty much exactly like every single Battlefield or Call of Duty game… except this time you get to play cops and robbers.  For some that will be a good thing, if you like Battlefield and Call of Duty…  but for me it is a pretty damning indictment.

The objectives in Hardline are basically “capture the flag” by another name.  Instead of creating a series of complicated objectives that the team has to work together to achieve, it simply creates temporary choke points where death-matching occurs.  On top of this… the game just does not feel like a next generation shooter.  Everything feels extremely low resolution as compared to say Destiny, in fact I wouldn’t even say those two games are anywhere near the same league as far as look and feel.  Everything about this game feels like a “B Team” effort, and I think that is pretty much what players have come to expect out of “off year” titles in the big shooter franchises.  Basically if you just want Battlefield 4 with a few changes, then you might enjoy it.  If you were like me and hoping for something more…  keep looking elsewhere.  After all Destiny is just around the corner.

#LegoMinifigures #Wildstar #Hoverboard #BattlefieldHardline

Garuda Sucks

Casey Jones?

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I was extremely slow starting this morning, continuing to fall back asleep from 7 am til roughly 9 am.  When I finally got up and around I did what I do every morning, and ran off to forage for food.  Generally I run to QuikTrip for sausage rolls, which is a gas station chain based in Tulsa.  If you do not have the miracle that is QuikTrip… you won’t really understand how gas station food can be that amazing.  On the way back into the neighborhood I saw two young boys, one chasing the other.  I could see he had something in his hands, and as I drove closer I noticed it was a rubber katana and a golf club.  My immediate thought was… whoa is that kid playing Casey Jones?

I think of the Turtles as being a figment of my childhood, as I can remember buying the original indie black and white comics, and the first series of playmates toys where all the turtles had trademarked red bandanas.  But the longer I thought about it… the more I realized that sure enough that kid COULD be playing Casey Jones.  The TMNT franchise has been rebooted every few years to a point where kids of almost any age could easily recognize everyone’s OTHER favorite psychopath with a hockey mask. 

As a tween I thought Casey Jones was the coolest, some kind of cross between a ninja and the punisher (another favorite character of mine).  Likely the two boys were just fighting with whatever they happened to have their hands on.  I remember my friend and I used to sword fight with baseball bats.  That was when I learned that a wooden bat can pretty much cleave an aluminum bat in two…. but that is a tale for another day.  Seeing the two kids running around like that made me super nostalgic.  I remember my cousin and I went through a phase where we went NOWHERE AT ALL without a slingshot and a bag of rocks.  Granted I grew up in the country… so that was entirely reasonable given that I have used said slingshot to thump a bull and get him to go the other way.

Tokyo Game Show and FFXIV

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This week the Tokyo Game Show has been going on, and unlike the various western game conferences it has been pretty closed door to the public… or at least closed door to anyone who does not have a fluent understanding of Japanese.  Luckily Dual Shockers has posted a pretty good write up of the various 2.1 announcements for Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn.  The awesome part is… there is a TON of content expected to release for the first patch.  So far the items that have been confirmed…  Good King Moogle Mog primal fight.  New extreme modes for Ifrit, Titan and Garuda…  and after doing normal mode Garuda last night, I don’t want to see what Hard mode looks like… let alone Extreme mode.

Additionally they are adding player housing for each of the three grand companies, daily beast quests, and treasure hunting mode…  neither of those two I understand but they both sound extremely enticing.  Additionally they are adding a pvp arena system at Wolfs Den, one completely new dungeon, and two new hardmode dungeons with new boss strategies.  They also announced that there would be limited time free transfers to a server of your choice in October, to help join together the various people that were split up by the server caps.  Finally later this year they announced that there would be cross over events with Dragon Quest X and Final Fantasy XI both of which appear to reward unique pets for FFXIV.

That is a lot of goodness, but I have not heard a timeframe for 2.1.  Considering I have yet to cap out, and I have an army of alternate specs to level…  I am sure I can hold on the current content for awhile.  I have always loved the art style of the Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest games… so I am looking forward to collecting the cute little golem pet.  Here is hoping they do this as a duty… and not some random spawning fate.  The whole random drop pet/mount thing has not really worked out too well for any of us in Rift, and most of us have not collected more than one color of Hellbug.

Garuda Sucks

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Both Ifrit and Titan were extremely enjoyable encounters.  They introduced us to the concept of a primal fight, and I believe eased us into the difficulty of the encounters.  In both cases there was this one thing you had to watch, and if you did it… you pretty much won.  As various guild members have gotten up in level I have looked forward to tanking or dpsing these encounters to get them through.  They are both extremely fun fights to participate in.  Last night we took on Garuda… the third primal encounter… and I have to say no one will be looking forward to repeating this one.

The problem is… I am trying to think of ways to explain how big of an increase in difficulty the fight was from the other two without really spoiling the fight OR the other two.  We have tried really hard to go into every fight cold and figure things out on our own.  This of course has meant a lot of deaths as we figured out just what the mechanics were doing.  I think we had somewhere less than ten deaths last night… but not sure just how far from that number we were.  We latched onto one of the central concepts of the fight extremely fast.  As Tam said… this is not our first rodeo… so if a fight gives you a thing to hide behind… chances are they want you to hide behind it at some point.

The big problem that I saw was the sheer amount of damage I was taking as the tank.  The various people in the know have all said that they wait until they have completed their 45 class quest to do this fight, since that fight rewards you every piece of an armor set but the chest piece.  Additionally I could have outfitted myself in at least a full set of the level 45 heavy mithril armor set… which self buffed gives me about 300 more hitpoints from what I did the encounter with. 

Being the stubborn bastards that we are, we pulled and pushed and prodded on the encounter until we finally beat it.  I just have to say though… this is the hardest fight to date… filled with “all manner of fuckery” as Tam commented last night.  I have so much fear and loathing about what the various hard mode version of the primal fights could bring, especially considering how close a call making it through normal Garuda was for us.

Wrapping Up

Well time for me to finish this up and get on with the day.  I am sure I will be logging into FFXIV to hang out with the guild, maybe even venturing into Rift to try and finish up 58.  Yesterday we did a lot of running around town, so I think today for the most part will be a stay at home day.  We have to go out this afternoon to meet someone to buy my wife another Miche shell.  For those not familiar with this concept… it is a weird purse with changeable appearances.  My wife has suddenly become enthralled by them… and since she is always so damned good about my Lego expenditures… I figure it is only fair that I am cool about her growing collection of purses.

Gallivanting

Ohman… it is morning and I am legitimately typing a blog post like I am supposed to on a weekend!  Apologies again for the huge lag in getting yesterdays post out the door.  Unfortunately from time to time I get busy… and I really don’t like pre-writing a post very much and setting an embargo date.  I tend to keep my blog posts fresh and reactional in that I just blather on about whatever happens to be in my mind at the time.  I can tell that this is not everyone’s cup of tea as my subscriber base has pretty much been stable and unchanging for some time now.

I Love my Grandma

Grandma_Card

The title of this sub-section will make absolutely no sense to anyone…  but I am chuckling immensely.  Dates back to High School Spanish 2… when I kid pestered me for a translation of what was written on the board.  I told him it was “I love my grandma” and I don’t remember what it was honest at this point… only that I told him a completely laughable translation.  Sure enough the little slacker got called on to provide the translation, and he proudly strode to the front of the class with all the cocky confidence you would expect of someone who was dead certain of the answer.  He delivered his response and immediately riotous laughter spread throughout the room.  I just shrugged and said “you should do your own translations from now on, my Spanish is a bit rusty”.

Though I really and truly do love my grandma… and this week was her 84th birthday.  We had all intentions of going up on Wednesday night to see her, but for starters my wife got home extremely late from work that night.  After calling up she was not feeling great after having oral surgery the day before, so we opted just to talk to her for a bit on the phone and come up Saturday to see her.  The above card is me being bored while waiting on my wife and freehanding something with a bunch of sharpies. I thought it turned out fairly well and Grandma seemed to like it.

We went up yesterday and hung out with her for about an hour or so before my parents arrived, which lead us to spend another hour or so catching up with them.  She is looking pretty good and my mother took the opportunity as always to take a large number of photos.  We have finally weaned her off using a standalone point and shoot camera and just taking photos with her Galaxy S4.  Cool thing about that is it let us grab her phone and text the best of them to ourselves.  I have to say they are some of the best family style photos we have had in awhile.  I would post them, but I am not sure if I am quite ready to post photos of myself online.

Gallivanting

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After leaving my grandmothers, we set out on a cross country trip of some hardcore gallivanting.  Essentially from my hometown we went over to Bartlesville first.  Recently all of the stores surrounding us have had some massive clearance sales, which I think are essentially the “lets clear everything out so we can stock up for christmas” sales.  So far we have found all sorts of things, namely school supplies and Legos.  Since we really had no plans yesterday we decided to roam around the surrounding area checking various stores… namely all the different Wal-mart super centers.

SuperGirlFootiePajamasIt has admittedly been a really long time since I have spent much time in a Wal-mart store.  Like I will pop in and get ONE thing at a time, that only they carry… but I have not really spent a ton of time “shopping” in one for some time.  We saw several funny things along the trip yesterday that I just have to share.  Firstly is the image at the beginning of this section.  Apparently you can get a wedding set at Wal-mart for around 10 dollars.  They are as fake as is humanly possible… but at first glance they totally pass as the real thing.  I didn’t even know that was a market, that folks needed cheap fake rings… but apparently like always they are filling a perceived need.

Next up over right justified we have the adult women’s… super girl footie pajamas.  Just not the type of thing I expected to exist at all… let along be proudly displayed for sale at the local Wal-mart.  The funny thing is they come with a little velcro cape that attaches to the back.  The best ones I didn’t see until later in the day at another store, were the batgirl pajamas.  I tried to convince my wife to buy a pair.  I could totally see her loving a pair of footie pajamas… but she thought they would simply be too damned hard to get out of when she needed to pee in the middle of the night.  Probably best to air on the side of caution there.

Half a Tank of Gas

2013-09-15 10_15_15-Nowata, OK to Owasso, OK - Google Maps

The above image is a screen cap of the route we took yesterday.  Nowata to Bartlesville to Muskogee to Wagoner to Pryor to Claremore and finally back to Owasso.  We ended up burning through half a tank of gas, and hit a ton of stops between.  Did we find much of anything in the grand scheme of things?  Not really… but it is mostly the thrill of the hunt.  The entire event started in part because a few weeks back we had found all sorts of cool stuff at the clearance section of the Muskogee Wal-mart.  I had opted not to pick a few things up, as had my wife and we had been kicking ourselves ever since.  So from Bartlesville we decided to head over to Muskogee and see if they still had it. 

I have to say we struck out 110%, because not only did they not have what we were wanting… they had zero signs of ever having this massive clearance section in the first place.  I wandered around the store trying to find any place it could have gone… but I am guessing more than likely after two weeks they had shipped it all off to be written off by Wal-mart… which is essentially how Sooner Surplus gets all its stuff.  While we were in town we ran by there as well, but there was nothing really new to look at, and since we didn’t need mens suit coats or scooters… their newest acquisitions… we went on our merry way.  It was at this point we got the brainstorm to meander our way back to Owasso through all the towns along the way.

What was fueling my wife in this endevour is visions of school supplies dancing in her head.  Friday night we had to run out to the Owasso Wal-mart for something… and back in the home and garden section they had all of their back to school leftovers piled up in a huge heap and discounted down to truly silly prices.  As a result we ended up with 20 index card boxes for 10 cents each, 40 plastic rulers for 10 cents each, 6 packages of her favorite flair clone markers for a quarter a piece, 11 really nice 8 pocket file folders for a quarter a piece, misc notebooks for around a quarter, gluesticks 4 for a quarter, and a really nifty storage ottoman for the loft for 5 bucks.  All told we walked away with a massive amount of stuff for less than 40 bucks.

Quality not Quantity

CheapLegos_09152013 While I did not necessarily find a huge stockpile of stuff in our trip, I did find some definitely awesome items.  Friday night at Target I did one of my routine trips through toys to look for clearance, and found they finally marked down the Fury starfighter from Star Wars the Old Republic.  This is the one that comes with the Darth Malgus mini-figure and is the same star ship that Sith Inquisitors and Warriors pilot in the game.  Of all of the Lego sets that have been on the market, this is hands down the one I have wanted the most.  The problem is it debuted for like $120 and there was no way in hell I would ever purchase that.  However target had it marked down to $60… so I snapped that puppy up.

While on our whirlwind trip of Wal-mart clearance, I did encounter one really nice thing in Wagoner.  When the Hobbit movie sets were released, the on that I knew I immediately had to have was the Unexpected Meeting set that included a model of Bags End.  I have always loved Hobbit architecture and the Baubleshire was hands down my favorite area of Everquest 2.  So since a Hobbit hole existed… I had to have it.  This set originally debuted at around $60, and Wal-mart had it marked down to $25 so it was a completely no brainer to pick it up for that.

So while I did not find a large volume of sets, I got two of the ones that I had been wanting the most, so I call our half tank of gas a complete success.  My wife on the other hand picked up a handful of things, included several scarves that she had been hunting for at the Claremore Wal-mart.  The thing we keep marveling at is just how grossly inefficient the pricing is.  We would see the exact same product on clearance at three stores… and in each case it would be a completely different price.  There were several cases where we might have picked an item up at another store… had it been priced the same way it was at a previous store.  I remember seeing the same action figured priced for $7, $5, and $4 at three different stores in the clearance bin.

I am assuming this is because each store has a certain amount of autonomy in their pricing practices.  However as a consumer, I find it all a frustrating mess.  Granted I am likely exploiting the hell out of these practices by hitting multiple stores in the same day and sampling the best prices at each.  I just find it humorous that I never see this level of chaos at say a Target, where everything is marked down in a neat and orderly fashion based on a specific  patterned schedule.  If you see something for sale at one store, you can go to any store in your area and are almost always going to find it the same price.

Wrapping Up

Even though we did not necessarily find a ton of items, we had a fun time wandering around the state looking for things.  It was a nice drive, we just wish we had brought our cameras for it.  Today on the other hand I hope we pretty much just chill out close to home.  My allergies are still killing me, especially after being exposed to that much “outside” along the tip.  I am just about to get up and take something, and hopefully that will make things better.  I hope you all have had a great weekend and that you have a good start to the work week.

Pugilism

Good morning you happy people in digital land… I am somewhat awake and once again sitting at the keyboard in the morning.  I know that over the holiday weekend I was a slacker and ended up logging late in the day for two days… but now it is time to return to reality and as such the morning posts begin once more.  All in all it was a pretty good Labor Day weekend, we ran out and did quite a few things and I managed to get in a decent amount of playtime in on various games.  I even managed to hit the suggested point in the NDA title, so I call the weekend as a whole a success.

Another Cool Find

Lego_Gungan_SubYesterday my wife went shopping with her mother and sister and I pretty much stuck around the house doing laundry, changing the ferret cage, and playing a lot of Final Fantasy.  Right now there is a lot of closeout going on at the various Wal-mart locations around us, and she said she would check the ones in Joplin if they ended up there.  I had honestly pretty much forgotten about it when I got a series of texts asking about various sets.  I still think it is so damned cool that she is more than willing to feed my addiction to all things Lego.

At the first store there were many sets that I already had, and one that I had picked up at our store… but in amongst the various heavily marked down boxes was a gem.  The Gungan Sub is a set I have thought was cool for some time, but it had an $80 pricetag that like all the bigger sets makes me not willing to pick them up.  However yesterday she found it for only $40 so it was a definite buy especially considering this one is another out of print set from 2012.

This apparently is a re-release of a model by the same name that came out in 1999 for the release of the Phantom Menace.  It looks like the model has been improved in every way, and in addition there is the first Queen Amidala minifig which is pretty sweet looking.  Of course in the travels my wife found lots of stuff for herself, including a bunch of scarves that were on clearance and a few tops.  It sounds like she had a good time hanging with her family, but I still think it is awesome that she thought to check the Legos and actually found some.

Pugilism

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Now that I managed to get to 30 on my main class and pick up the Warrior job I have backed down a bit from pushing through the levels.  One of the frustrations with specialization is that you can no longer access all of the cross class abilities.  So by switching into Warrior I lost access to all the nifty toys I had from my Lancer sub class.  As it stands currently, Warriors only have access to cross class abilities from the Gladiator and Pugilist classes.  Since there are quite a few good low hanging fruit in the Pugilism tree, I decided to swap over and run up a few levels there.

I have to say I enjoy the way pugilist feels.  In many ways it reminds me of the way the martial arts hero felt in City of Heroes.  You have lots of awesome kicks and punches and a really interesting combo system.  Basically how combos work in this game is that when you hit an ability, it will highlight the next ability in sequence… and if you press it you get some special added effect.  The problem is if you miss the second attack, it is a lost opportunity. 

With the Pugilist, each attack applies a short term buff to your character, and this buff is what controls the ability to proceed through to the next attack.  This means even if you fail to hit the target with the second attack, there is always a chance to pull out a second attempt at the attack and proceed down the combo tree.  Additionally they get a third step in their combo building process amazingly fast, within the first few levels.  This makes the class design feel extremely responsive early on in the leveling process.

Right now my goal is to hit level 12, which will give me access to a few really nice cross class abilities.  First we have Featherfoot, which increases evasion by 25% for 15 seconds.  Next we have Second Wind, that is a variable heal that builds off attack power.   Lastly we have Internal Release, which increases Critical Rate by 30% for 15 seconds.  I have heard that the Marauder ability Berserk which increases attack power by 50%, will greatly buff Second Wind.  While Berserk keeps you from using special attacks for 30 seconds after its duration… it could be a handy combo in a clutch situation where you are tanking and need a large heal NOW.

Primetime Patching

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At the point of posting about the prime time patch, I had not really don’t the time conversion myself.  Essentially the “Wednesday patch” is actually a Tuesday evening patch for the United States.  I feel as though a million oceanic players are reveling in the frustration saying “see what it feels like”.  The maintenance period is essentially 7 pm to 1 am central time, so pretty much encompasses the entire playable time period I would normally be in a game.  All will be forgiven if this fixes the issues and we can finally stop the “1017 shuffle”.

I heard an interesting theory about what is happening to the servers and why they cannot support any more players.  The theory states that it is not actually a problem with the individual shards themselves, but a problem with not having enough resources on the “instancing server”.  The game makes constant use of throwing players into instanced scenes in the game as you complete some of the games more epic quest moments.  This additionally is supposedly the same server that is used by every dungeon in the game.  The majority of player disconnects involve going into or coming out of an instanced area.

The theory further poses that it is this instance infrastructure that was just too small to support the current deluge of players.  This server was supposedly scaled for around 100,000 concurrent players, whereas we have well over that on a given basis.  This is also why in the final beta test, before they imposed the caps… the main issue at hand was the complete and total failure of the instance system halting players from progressing in their quests.  If this is in fact the case they may literally be able to throw servers at the problem…and after this maintenance all may be resolved.  I really hope this ends up the case…  because the game is far better than its shitty infrastructure shows.

Wrapping Up

Well it is time for me to take the trash out, feed the cats and get on the road.  I hope you have a great short week ahead of you.  My hope is that no real crisis arise and I can get some things knocked off my extremely long list.  More than likely tonight I will be back in Rift, as I am sure the guild thinks I have fallen off the face of the earth.  Looking forward to trying to get some more dungeons going this Wednesday for guild night.  Crossing my fingers that the maintenance fixes everything, and I will be able to play FFXIV at will, and not feel like I need to play it whenever I can actually connect to the game servers.

Awesome Wife

Good evening my dear readers… I am writing this far later in the day than normal… but there was good reason.  Essentially today we greatly varied our normal weekend routine.  Towards the end of the week my wife suggested we go to Muskogee today, and I suggested that we just get up early, shower and eat breakfast on the road.  It has been in the hundreds temperature wise in Oklahoma this week, so I thought it would be better to get up there and back before it heated up too badly.  Instead we ended up spending the entire day there, but we found a lot of spiffy things.

Awesome Wife

Original_Lego_Haul

A few weeks back I wrote about my wife and how amazing she was when she spontaneously got me a huge haul of Legos when she went off on a shopping excursion with some of her friends.  Well today was the last day of the big sale that she found them on… and she wanted to know if I wanted to make a trip up to see if there was anything else I wanted.  Firstly I thought it was amazing that she was offering to make a trip to Muskogee just to go Lego shopping for me…  but it gets better.  When she was there early, she had told me that the place was not air conditioned and that if we ever made a trip back… that we would want to go early in the day.

As a result that is what is leading me to blog so late, as we pretty much were on the road as soon as we woke up this morning with no real time for me to knock out a morning post.  During the day she was there she had texted me pictures of the various sets she found, but I really did not get a good feeling for what the store was like.  We made a trip to the one in west Tulsa, and everything there was pretty much in neat and organized rows like a closeout store.  Additionally that store was air conditioned…  so I really could not grasp just how hot and oppressive the Muskogee store would be.

Above and Beyond

Sooner_Surplus_shelves The above picture is of what I would consider the most organized section of Sooner Surplus.  The various toys were scattered around throughout the store over the course of six different isles.  In each isle there were legos mixed in, crammed back behind… above and under all the rest of the toys.  Essentially Sooner Surplus is what appears to be a store that buys items that the stores like Wal-mart write off as a loss.  The end result is a complete mishmash of everything you could imagine.  All of it in new or like new state… sometimes with dented packages but everything around sixty percent of retail prices.  For example the TIE Fighter she got me last time retails for $55 and the pricetag at the store was $35.

Until August 31st… aka today all of the toys, Legos included were an additional 20% off the already 60% pricetag.  So first off I was completely floored that she thought about the Legos in the first place… but as I rummaged through the shelves today I finally grasped just how amazing she really was.  The various sets the gathered up last time… came from about 12 different places in the store… some of them buried behind piles of other toys.  So not only was she thinking about me when she saw the Legos… she went through a massive amount of physical effort to FIND all the sets in the first place.  All of this in during an Oklahoma afternoon, in a metal building with no air-conditioning that seems to heat up like an oven really quickly.

A Real Trooper

Lego_Haul_TwoWeeks So after picking me out almost $100 in Lego sets last time… she was more than willing to bring me back today and let me pick through the sets myself.  This time around we got a lot of the larger sets.  Granted in the above picture, one of the sets came from closeout in our Wal-Mart… but she still was amazing about letting me pick that one up as well.  The Goblin King set above, was roughly $60 before the 20% discount… and it originally retailed in the store for over $100 by itself.  The monster train set was roughly $40 and retailed for over $80 in the store. So all in all I found a ton of really good bigger sets for super cheap even before the discount… but knowing that we got an additional 20% off of everything was a huge push to pick them up.

The Optimus Prime set is Kree-o but everything I have seen shows that they are completely compatible with Lego.  It originally retailed for $80 and before the 20% discount the above set was $20.  Granted I don’t think the Kree-o product line has gone over as well as Hasbro could have hoped, but it still looks awesome, and had a ton of pieces.  The set I had gotten from Wal-mart before was also originally in the $100 range, but we picked it up I think for $45.  Essentially all told between the set from Wal-mart and the finds today at Sooner Surplus… my wife was a real trooper about me spending another $200 on Legos.

While we were there we found a few more sets for my niece and nephew.  The big thing we were excited about is that we found another three sets from the Lego Friends line for her… and then got a really cool bigger dump truck set for him.  Granted this pales in comparison to what I walked away with, but I am sure they will be happy when we give them to them.  We went by the Wal-mart in Muskogee later and they had quite a few sets on clearance as well.  I passed on a Hobbit Attack of the Wargs set for $20 without looking it up.  Later on I realized that the set was a $50 set normally.  My wife being awesome as always… encouraged me to get it… but i felt bad since I had already spent so much earlier.

Things People Pawn

PawnShop_Find We have always been huge fans of Pawn Shops.  Essentially if I can get a price break by buying something second hand… I will always do it.  Just with the Legos we are always looking for a good deal, and namely we frequently them fairly often looking for Camera lenses for our Canon Digital SLRs.  We had never actually been to the Cash America in Muskogee, but on the last trip my wife actually found where it was located.  So after getting out of Sooner Surplus we wound our way over there to check it out.  It was extremely nice inside and the service staff there were extremely friendly.

That has always been the bane of our existence as pawn shops go.  We go there to buy things, and it always seems like we have pure hell trying to get anyone to wait on us.  The workers in pawn shops are usually either ignoring the customers or too busy with the folks there to pawn things.  It always rubs me the wrong way since in essense we are there to give them money, not ask for it.  Anyways the folks at this shop were the exact opposite super friendly.  My wife looked at some of the rings and I roamed around the store for a bit.  I cracked up when I saw the above items.  I guess people will pawn damned near anything.  I never thought of a generic coffee pot, a igloo water jug, and a toaster oven as high dollar items.

Further Excursions

Jacobs_Claptrap Another place we have to go whenever we are in Muskogee or honestly any town that has one is Hastings.  For those not familiar with it, it is this odd bookstore/movie/comic/toys/music/electronics store chain.  They generally have prices that range on the high end, but when they put things on sale, or have used merchandise it is generally a really good deal.  Since for the most part we have moved to digital books… I don’t so much buy books there any more, but I love looking through their random geeky kitsch.  One of my favorite things in Borderlands 2… is anything produced by Jacobs manufacturing.  I kind of have a fetish for the whole steam punk look of their weapons.  One of my favorite places in the game is when you run across a non-functioning CL4P-TP model styled by Jacobs.

One the shelves at Hastings I stumbled onto exactly that… a Jacobs model “Clap-Trap”.  I thought it was extremely cool… just not the $20 price tag worth of cool.  Sure it would have looked awesome adorning my desk at work.  But that seemed a bit much for a random action figure.  I had seen several versions of the figure before, but always in the blue or yellow variant.  I didn’t even know that the Jacobs model existed.  I might have gone for it… but the paint job was not nearly as cool as it was in game.  The wood grain looked extremely flat and was mostly just solid fields of brown.  So while super cool… it would never look as cool as the awesome one from in game.

Pretty much the rest of the day was spent ping ponging around Muskogee.  We went out to the Mall and hit several clothing stores looking for stuff for my wife.  Additionally we had trips to Ross and Cato and found a handful of things.  That has been the real challenge this year starting back to school is that since we have both lost quite a bit of weight (55 lbs for me and 45 lbs for my wife) a lot of her professional attire was just too big to remain looking professional.  The frustrating thing is she seems to be in an odd spot where clothing is hard to find… most likely because so many people are currently in that size range.  So as a result we have picked up separates wherever we could find them.

Wrapping Up

It was a fun day, and while it was hot as hell out there it was well worth the trip.  I am so thankful I have such an awesome spouse… that while she may not fully understand my obsessions…  she at least understands what is important to me and indulges my eccentricities.  Quite honestly it is a two way street, as I have gone down so many roads that lead to one of her little obsessions as well.  I guess at the end of the day that is why we work well together.  Anyways… I hope you all have a great weekend, and apologies again for getting this post out so late.

Lego Episode

Good morning you happy people out in digital land…  I Belghast am doing my best to try and be noble and bloggified this morning…  but seeming to fail miserably.  If you have not figured out by now… this top paragraph is really just me psyching myself up to write.  Think of it as the wind-up to a pitch, and while I do divulge important bits of information from time to time… mostly it is just my way of easing into writing about “things”.  This morning I am still drinking a cup of coffee, so who knows what adventures my mind will go on throughout the course of the day.

Lego Friends

lego_friends_package

So a few weeks back my niece wanted Legos for her birthday.  This was one of my happiest moments as an uncle, and I spoiled her fairly rotten.  I may or may not have bought like $80 in Legos for her… because by god I am going to support the notion of my niece being into “building things”.  I have to say I was extremely disappointed in what I was able to find however.  It seems like all of the Lego City products have essentially nothing but male minifigures.  On a completely seperate row… were the Lego Friends toys… and scattered in among those were an assortment of “real” Lego sets with female characters.  So I ended up getting her a pink bucket with a girl minifig, a blue bucket with a boy minifig… and this princess horse grooming set because the minifig in that one looked a lot like her.

I was woefully sadden later to find out that she used some of her own money to buy a bunch of the Lego Friends sets.  Feminist Frequency released a video on the Lego Friends and for the most part I agreed… that they were an un-needed aberration in Legoland.  I had no clue why they existed in the first place.  I could not understand why they did not just release a series of Lego city sets with female heroines.  But yesterday I think I finally grok exactly what the Lego Friends do that the minifigures do not.

We spent most of our day yesterday either preparing for or spending time with family.  We had a surprise get together for my wife’s fathers birthday, and this was the first time I had seen my niece in awhile.  During my wife’s insane Lego find she found 3 sets for my niece.  One Lego friends set, and two normal lego sets but with gender neutral themes and including girl minifigs.  Thing is…  when we gave them to her… she was excited about all the sets for different reasons… but she was especially excited about the Lego Friends set… because it she did not already have “Andrea”.  I never once thought about the fact that the Lego friends might have names.

So I started listening to how she talked about Lego friends… and it finally made sense.  She cares about the different characters and their personalities much the same way as a little girl assigns attributes to each of the members of the Barbie universe.  The catch is that instead of teaching copious consumption… in that you need to buy Barbie all these things… like a dream house and a car…  it is letting her BUILD things for her new imaginary friends.  She talked about that she is building a house for all her lego friends… which is going completely off the map since none of the sets we have gotten for her so far was anything resembling a house.  Essentially from my standpoint Lego Friends are “working as intended”.

She is having all sorts of imaginative play… but she is building various aspects of the universe inhabited by these five named minifigures.  So I no longer feel like a horrible person for buying into this “Friends” franchise.  She is building and creating and imaging all sorts of new experience for her “dolls” and it seems like it is the best of both the Lego and Barbie experience.  She is having aspirational play imaging herself as a vet or a doctor or a home builder…  but doing so in a way that she is actually making the things happen by building them… rather than waiting on another trip to the store to acquire another item.  Here is hoping that she continues to build and create… and we will do our best to keep supplying a fresh set of bricks to incorporate into her little world.

Heroica

lego_heroica

Part of the whole going to see family thing, involves going to a small town about an hour from Tulsa.  With it being back to school time, my wife wanted to stop and see if they had any different school supplies… or more importantly ones on clearance at the small town Wal-mart.  While we did not really find much in the way of school supplies they had a bunch of Lego stuff on clearance.  I have seen the various Lego board games for awhile, but never actually picked them up.  I have heard they were an awesome source for relatively rare pieces, but they were always way too expensive for me to just pick up on a lark to part out.  I found these two Heroica sets for less than twenty bucks combined so I figured it was well worth that.

It got me to thinking… wouldn’t it be cool to run a D&D or similar pen and paper campaign using the Lego board games as a mapping system?  I saw a picture from G+ the other day of a dad teaching his kids D&D using minifigures to represent their characters.  It seems like father of the year material there, but wouldn’t it be cool if you also built the dungeon they were exploring out of Lego?  Granted it would involve kitbashing a TON of these sets to find enough pieces to be able to do it…  but it seems like a noble undertaking.  Sadly I don’t really have enough friends nearby to really support a D&D campaign.  When we do pen and paper we tend to do it as a google hangout… and I think the tactile experience of Lego everything… would be lost horribly over a camera.

Nipple Chests

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When I finally got back home from our family outing excursions… I sat down on the couch just absolutely drained.  I initially fired up Rift, but I just was not feeling up to grinding my harvest skills any further.  Granted I know I could have played something else… but I am somewhat obsessed with getting my Cleric to a level at which he can do Storm Legion content.  I logged into Mumble and everyone there was playing Final Fantasy XIV… so I figured… what the hell… might as well join them.  The game is growing on me, I will admit…  but I am just not sure to what extent.  There are still so many things that bother me about the game in general.

If my character looks awesome… I feel awesome while playing it.  This is why I am such a huge proponent of cosmetic gear systems.  If I can set my appearance and always look amazing… I will feel happy while playing that character.  Final Fantasy XIV has way too much of the bullshit you see in the above picture.  Wearing a “nipple chest” and powder blue assless chaps does not make me feel heroic in ANY way.  I just feel like a walking punchline to a horrible joke.  This shit might fly in Japan… but I just feel like a moron walking around like this.  Sadly earlier my character looked amazing…  I had a really slick looking set of gear… that fit the way my character plays… but since FFXIV has no cosmetic system to speak off… I am stuck looking like an abomination if I want to wear the most effective gear.

There is definitely something charming about the gameplay however.  It feels like a much better version of World of Warcraft.  The world looks nicer, the character models themselves are awesome… and the way combat chains off other abilities is a huge step forward from the WoW model.  The world seems fairly intricate as well, with lots of little things to explore and find.  I am still experience the whole things named nonsensically aspect… like what the hell is a Guildleve or a Levemete in the first place?  It feels like when Americans try and make ethnic sounding names that end up just being gibberish.  The whole game could do with a better cultural pass to change the names of things into something that makes sense.  As a result I can never remember what anything is called and just end up making names up for them.

I figure I will play the rest of the weekend and see where I feel about the game at the end of it.  It is more enjoyable than TERA or Dragons Prophet for example…  so were this a free to play game it would be a no-brainer as to whether or not I would be occasionally playing it.  But the whole subscription thing is still a sticking point for me.  I keep hoping that it will miraculously get better.  One of the things I want to try out is the jobs system.  I need to get up to around 15 to fully unlock the airship system be able to travel to the towns that have the guilds I want to pick up.  I think I am more than likely going to switch to pugilist or lancer first after getting Maurader to 15.

Wrapping Up

Well I managed to ramble on about meaningless stuff for another hour.  I hope you all have a great weekend.  I am guessing I will be splitting my Sunday between FFXIV and Rift.  I might even go upstairs and build some more Lego sets since that seems to be on my brain.  I still feel like I am potentially coming down with something… and as of this morning my wife seems similarly effected.  Here is hoping it just ends up as allergies and nothing more serious.

Folklore Roulette

Good morning my loyal readers…  or at least I think I have some loyal readers.  Over the last week or so I have done a quite a few thematic posts spurred on by the announcement of EQ Next.  Today is going to be a bit of a throwback to my “what Bel did” posts.  Yesterday was a busy day but also a pretty relaxing one.  We got out early and ran a bunch of errands including a haircut for me.  I was getting rather shaggy…  I was to the point where I could theoretically ponytail it up…  just a horrible one.

Lego Maniac

LegoPeeps

When we finally got home and settled in I engaged in something I had been planning for awhile.  When we set up the game loft, the intent was to also make it a place for me to build with my Legos that I have been amassing.   So as a result there is a fold out table underneath the loveseat and finally yesterday I gave this concept a trial run,  Over the last several months I had accumulated a large number of sets that I had yet to build, and this was only compounded by the awesome haul that my wife found last week.  It had become a running joke that I collected Legos but never actually built them… so I intended to rectify that.

My grand scheme is to eventually come up with a storage system so that I can sort out the Lego bits into component types.  But I have not settled on the best and most efficient means to do that.  However in the meantime I would like to build every set I have at least once as it was intended.  The entertainment center upstairs has been rather barren so it will serve as my showcase for built sets.  The above picture shows a wide assortment of things I put together yesterday.

In the picture is a Captain America set, a Ninjago one, The Gandalf arrives set from Lord of the Rings, a couple of Star Wars sets including an Ewok Attack one… and two different Harry Potter sets.  I barely scratched the surface of the unbuilt sets I have accumulated over the last little bit.  Essentially anytime I find a set on sale for a price I am willing to pay I snap it up.  Building anything with Legos makes me immensely happy.  It is like returning to a simpler time.  I can remember building by myself or with my cousins and creating grand machinations, and I guess to some extent I am capturing a small piece of that.  Not sure if I will return to builder mode today or not, but I had a blast doing it yesterday.

Folklore Roulette

HemlockGrove

So as I built away with the Legos I decided to fire up Netflix on my PS3 and watch something.  Hemlock Grove has been sitting in my recommendations for some time, so I figured what the heck.  I like werewolves, and Werewolf: The Apocalypse was hands down my favorite of the World of Darkness games… so I would at least give it a shot.  After watching nine episodes I can say that I really like the show… but I am not really sure why.  It kinda has a twin peaks meets world of darkness feel to it.  The biggest thing I realized immediately is just how under-billed calling it a “Werewolf” show is.  There is a lot going on in thee town of Hemlock Grove.

Essentially you are presented an odd hodgepodge of Slavic folklore traditions mixed with some Reanimator style science-horror.  You have psychic vampires, demons, possible alien hybrids, Romani seers, some crazy demonic wolf terrorizing the town… and of course a noble werewolf trying to reluctantly protect all of it. The demon wolf very much feels like a Black Spiral Dancer from White Wolf, at least the description we have been given of what a “Vargwolf” is.

I want to maybe finish out the series today, because seriously there is a lot of crazy shit going on in this little town… and I feel that sooner or later it is all going to come to a catastrophic end.  If you have ever been a fan of the World of Darkness series of games, I would highly suggest checking it out.  The acting is very good and at some times there are parts that remind me a little bit of American Horror Story season one.  It of course has the requisite HBO style gratuitous tits and ass thing going on…  so be warned if you have little or sensitive eyes in the room.  I am not really sure when this became a requirement for “edgy” television but I wish it would work its way out.

Festival of Unity

One of the coolest things about playing Everquest 2 on Antonia Bayle has always been the massive player run events.  Today is kicking one of the largest yearly events called the “Festival of Unity”.  It starts this afternoon at 3pm EDT at the Qeynos Claymore in Antonica.  You can check out the full information about the festival here on their homepage.  Also Stargrace did a nice write-up about the festival over on MMOQuests.  I am not sure yet if I will be attending it, but even if I do not I think it is an extremely cool concept.  Antonia Bayle has by far the coolest community I have ever experienced on a Role Playing server, and I am always happy to get the word out when an event is going on.

Wrapping Up

Today’s post feels a little bit shorter than normal, but I am out of meaningful things to say.  Hopefully you have a great rest of the weekend.  My wife has gotten roped into assisting a friend with her wedding planning, so more or less I will be holding down the fort alone today.  Going to have to start up laundry and the sort soon.  Speaking of fortifications… thankful that so far I seem to have thwarted our escape artist ferret.  She is sleeping peacefully in the playpen and has not found a way to climb out since yesterday.  Here is hoping that the ramparts hold.

Shaking the Toner

Good morning you happy hopefully rested people.  Last night was another toss and turn fest… because it seems as though our ceiling fan has broken, or at least is on its last leg.  As a result I slept on top of the covers all last night, some of it relatively unsuccessfully.  Here is hoping that I got enough sleep to prevent me from absolutely shutting down over the course of the day.  Tonight is guild night so hopefully I have the steam to lead us on a wild adventure.

Guest Contributors

Some time ago a good friend of mine started posting the occasional article on my blog under the name of Ariad.  However we did a pretty lousy job of messaging that the posts were coming from him and not me.  As a result I feel there was some confusion as he and I do not always see eye to eye.  We were talking yesterday and he is the Spock to my Captain Kirk.  As a result I have created the banners above to denote when a guest contributor is making a post.

Additionally another friend had shown interest in making the occasional post.  When I told him the Spock explanation above… he said that he was more like Khan.  In the same way his opinions will also not 100% align with what I am saying, but I feel a breadth of different opinions is a good thing.  I’ve known Sevok since the early days of Everquest 1 and have managed to keep up with him off and on through the various games I have played.  I look forward to seeing the posts they come up with, I know Sev is currently working on a spin on my “A Tank Is” post from the other day about his favorite role… the pet class.

The Grand Experiment

It has been 103 days since I started what I dubbed the “Grand Experiment” and began posting something every single morning regardless if I want to or not.  I have no real idea if the results have been a net positive, but I have been true to my cause and even when I was in a hotel room on vacation… I continued blogging each morning.  Yesterday a friend of mine Talyn of the Pumping Irony blog asked me a little bit about my morning routine.

Essentially he stated something I have heard from myself many times before.  That ultimately he felt like he just did not have that much time to post a blog post and as a result there are lapses between postings.  This pretty much explains all of the lags in my posting pattern since I started the blog back in April of 2009.  I would get into a pattern where I felt like I just did not have time to post, or that it came down to a choice between playing a game or posting.  Every time the blog lost out to me just logging in and playing something instead.

The Routine

When I started down this path I figured I had a bit of time each morning as I drank my coffee and attempted to wake up.  Previously I had been gaming a little bit to wake up, so I decided I would give that up and devote it to blogging.  Since Talyn was curious about the timeframe it took me every morning I thought I would go through my average morning, in case anyone else out there was curious as well.  My alarm goes off a 5:30 am and I get up and out of bed, making my way to the kitchen to fill the Keurig and turn it on.  I stumble back down the hall and jump in the shower.

While I am in the shower I try to begin thinking about what I am going to post that morning and continue doing so as I get dressed.  At roughly 6:00 am I go back to the kitchen… this time less of a stumble… to make a cup of coffee for myself and one for my wife as well.  After delivering the cup of coffee to the bedside table I am usually upstairs and sitting at my keyboard by 6:10-6:15.  Now begins the hard part.  Some mornings I know exactly what I am going to write about… others I don’t have a clue in the world. 

Shaking the Toner

If it is a writers block morning I try and flip through my RSS feed to see if anything arrived since I last read it that might start some thoughts percolating in my head.  The opening paragraph is ultimately the same in most of my blog posts… this is less for you guys and more for me.  This is my equivalent to the wind up before a pitch.  Starting words coming out onto the page often times unjams the printer in my brain and causes the topics to come spilling out.  Additionally the closing bit… is my way of turning off the faucet and allowing myself to transition from thinking about the blog to thinking about the work day ahead of me.

After lots of writing hackery and many trips to google image search and or launching a given game to collect screenshots… by about 6:30-6:45 I am wrapping up my post.  I give it a once over, add any links I feel I might need, add categories to the post… and finally hit publish.  I religiously use Microsoft Live Writer for my posts as it allows me to see visually how my post will look before I ever place it on the site.  Additionally it does a lot of niceties like managing the image uploads, has in client cropping and resizing and lets me do my alignment trickery.

Finally once the post has been made I advertise it on both Twitter and Google+.  Sure there are plugins that do this, and I could configure one and just make it happen automagically.  However I like to tailor my post each morning towards the content platform I am advertising it on.  This takes another 10-15 minutes depending on how many names I need to reference in the posts. I go downstairs, tell my wife that I love her and am heading out the door.  At this point it is between 7:00 and 7:15…  so after I jaunt over to QuikTrip for breakfast I get into the office between 7:30 and 7:45.  From the moment I wake up to the moment I leave the house is roughly an hour and a half.

Constraints Help

Talyn’s initial comment was “Holy crap you’re fast!”, but in truth… it is the time constraint that helps me be speedy in the morning.  When I do my weekend posts, they can take an hour and a half to two hours of just writing time.  The difference is.. on the weekends I have all the time in the world, so I do not feel rushed to get in and get things done.  However on the weekday mornings I know I have a finite amount of time that I can devote to each step.  While I have an extremely flexible report time, I personally refuse to abuse this too much.  I still end up as one of the first people into the office.  Ultimately our core hours that we MUST be there are 9-3, and as salaried employees we can carve out our 40 on either side of that fixed point.  I tend to work 7:30 to 4:30 most days, so I can blur that line a little bit and still be fine but I try never to absolutely violate it.

My Wife is Amazing

StarWarsHaul

Yesterday while I was at work, my wife was out with some friends hitting a bunch of “junk stores” for lack of a better term.  This was one of her last days of freedom before the start of the new school year and got roped into this adventure by another teacher friend.  I was ramping up for a meeting and a got a text saying “are there any Lego sets you are looking for?”.  My addiction to Lego has not really surfaced much on the blog yet, but I have always loved them.  Of late I have been picking up sets whenever I found them cheapish.  Apparently at one of the places they stopped they had a large number of sets that were marked down, and then had 20% discount applied on top of that.

An example… the Lego TIE Fighter is roughly $45 in the store, and they had it priced for $35… and then after the 20% discount the final price ended up a steal at $28.  After many texts back and forth with pictures of different sets, I expected her to maybe come home with a TIE Fighter and something else…  but instead she came home with this massive haul of sets.  She spent roughly $100 and got all of the sets pictured above… 3 sets for my niece and nephew that are from the “easy to build” line… and a second Lord of the Rings Gandalf Arrives set for a friend. 

It is not that my wife bought me Legos… it is that she saw them and immediately thought that I would want them.  Granted this is a two way streets… I cannot count the number of times I have picked up some random item for her classroom that I happened to stumble upon while shopping without her.  I just thought it was amazingly awesome that while out with friends, doing something completely out of the ordinary that she thought about me.  I guess this is why we have been a successful pair for over 15 years.  While I did not marry a gamer, I married an awesome nerd that “understands” my geek nature.

Wrapping Up

I need to get this wrapped up so I can get on the road.  I hope this satiated any curiosities about my process that folks might have had.  Additionally look for the first of the new round of guest posts to be happening in the next few days.  These will be in addition to my morning posts.  I don’t want to get out of the habit of writing each morning.  For those in House Stalwart, be thinking about what you want to accomplish tonight.  I am completely game for splitting into dungeon groups if we have a viable comp, running hunt rifts… or just doing random rifts and such to work on the guild quest.  I hope you all have a great day today, and that you accomplish whatever you need to.