Tiny Featherballs

babbybirb

Babby Birbs

babbybirb

Right now the highlight of our backyard adventures is the fact that my wife found a nest full of babies.  I am guessing these are “Babby” Robins, largely because anytime I got near the nest a Robin would make a horrible racket I assume trying to drive me away.  The cute little things have been trained well because they went from happily playing around with each other to being completely still the moment I got anywhere near them.  I am guessing that is a defense mechanism to freeze up completely as to keep motion from attracting a predator.  They are freaking adorable and they are in a location where we can pretty easily watch them as they do their stuff.  There is a leaf in the way so I had to get pretty close to get this clear of a shot, but as far as seeing their general well being we can track that from the comfort of our patio.  I am absolutely certain there are more babies out there, but I am guessing this might be the only group that is actually inhabiting one of our bushes…  that they probably mistook for a tree considering how overgrown they were.  It makes me wonder if there have been Robins nesting in it all this time.  I know last hear there was a group of Robins that nested in a gap in the stonework on the side of our house near the garage.  Unfortunately a huge windstorm came up and the next morning I found that nest on the ground with both eggs cracked open.  I am kinda worried about how precarious this nest looks, but I guess since they have already hatched and are already fat little feather balls…  hopefully they could function if something happened to the nest.

whiteflowerbetter

I talked yesterday about the batch of flowers that I thought were the first fatality of the backyard.  Sure enough all of the red flowers died out, and the white ones looked pretty sickly for a bit.  However yesterday after finally getting some solid sun, the white ones seem to be pulling out just fine.  It is my hope that now that we have freed up most of the space from the dead plant, that the white flower will go ahead and fill that space in.  I snapped this photo largely because of the droplets of water on the pedal.  All of the other flowers seem to be thriving which is awesome, especially after getting some tasty sunlight.  Honestly I wonder if the red one struggled not because of the watering situation but due to the fact that we went several days without much direct sunlight.  In any case the backyard is just as peaceful and relaxing as ever…  with the slight problem of it being insanely muggy.  The pool however seems to have finally warmed up so I am looking forward to using it in the near future.  I had stuff to do last night or I would have potentially taken a dip.

Challenge of Thursday

RemotePlay 2016-06-03 06-10-03-65

On Thursday nights I have a standing date with Jex and Squirrel to do some Challenge of Elders, and often times a Nightfall.  Now the entire idea behind this is just to make sure that no matter what we get at least one set of characters through the Challenge of Elders that week.  Often times folks start running these like mad on Tuesday nights, a night where I already have a commitment in the form of the FFXIV Pony Farm/Raid night.  So that means I miss out on a bunch of the easy clan pick up group action.  Now most weeks I slide into another Clan group without problem, but  we simply set aside this night as a way of making sure that we get at least one set of drops from the challenge.  I look forward to the night because I greatly enjoy hanging out with Squirrel and Jex, because the two of them are the folks that revitalized Destiny for me and introduced me to the amazing Axioma clan.  Last night we got started a little earlier which means we also had time to squeeze in a Nightfall afterwards.  This weeks Challenge included a score bonus for super abilities, so a couple of us were rocking the Bad Juju as a way of feeding our super/orb generation machine.  One of the rounds we managed to score around 50,000 points which I am pretty damned proud of.  Unfortunately we still were just shy of the 90,000 armor score, which allowed us to have one match where we broke out our Sleeper Stimulants and just tore down the bosses.

As far as drops worth mentioning… I picked up a 330 Aegis of the Reef, which is the Taken themed Pulse rifle.  So far I have to say I am in love with this thing and it dropped with a solid set of perks.  In the first slot it came with Send It and Reinforced Barrel… which since the gun already has decent stock stability I have chosen Send It.  In the second tier it came with Full Auto, which is an interesting perk to get on an already stable pulse rifle, but unfortunately you can really burn through your ammo reserves quickly.  In the last slot it has a very interesting situational case of Third Eye and Life Support, letting me swap between the two based on what I need worse.  For the time being I am rocking Third Eye because I love having radar up all of the time.  When we got around to running the Nightfall I managed to pick up a second Darkblade Helm, this one sitting at 335 with almost exactly the same stat package as my original one that was only sitting at 305.  It was a straight upgrade and I guess I will wear it for awhile to get it nice and upgraded as an option.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed running around with this helmet just because it looks cool.  All in all it was a pretty great night, and through all of our shenanigans I managed to gain rank from Variks, Vanguard, Future War Cult and the Cryptarch netting me a bunch of random infusables and legendary marks.

Flowers for Garou

FlowersPanorama_600

More Flora

FlowersPanorama_600

It feels really strange to follow up yesterdays post.  Those were a bunch of things that I felt like I needed to get out there, and to be honest about the doubt that I had been struggling with.  As it stands right now I am for certain taking a break over Memorial Day weekend rather than either pre-writing posts or arranging for guest posts.  I am also contemplating starting to make weekends optional.  Sunday is really the day that becomes madness for me because I am also scurrying around that morning trying to wrap up the various stuff required for posting an episode of aggrochat.  As far as this weekend, it was honestly one without a ton of gaming.  Instead I spent a large amount of time hanging out in the backyard.  Scope creep is a term we use in development when a project has gone beyond its boundaries in the number of features the user is requesting.  Our backyard has long since entered scope creep territory and that’s okay.  The original goal was just to make it more livable, and this has involved a whole sequence of smaller steps leading up to where we are today.  Once again I took a panorama of the progress, and you can see the larger version here.

We have now kept the original batch of flowers alive and actually thriving for two weeks now… so of course we doubled down on the proposition.  We spent a bit of Saturday afternoon tracking down more of the shepherds hooks so that we could have matching ones to the ones we had picked up at ALDI a few weeks back.  The other night while walking with a friend, my wife saw a hanging basket at a near by pop up nursery that she really liked.  We also happened to have a coupon from that same pop-up that if we spent $20 we could get a free hanging basket, so the end result is us adopting the purple, yellow and white hanging baskets and adding them to my “flower babies” as I have taken to calling them.  The only big things left are to wait on the grass to finish filling in where the weed treatments left barren patches… and so far it has started.  Then there is of course the idea kicking around about replacing the table we have with something that sits a little lower to the ground and that we could use our pseudo-Adirondack chairs with.  Then I am contemplating getting another of the umbrellas we found on sale to go in a post on the far deck side of the pool to add a little shade there from within the pool.  Like I said…. scope creep abounds.

The most interesting piece of scope creep over the last week however is the fact that we have entered the realm of bird stewardship.  I’ve not been able to take a great shot of them but we have soooo many birds.  In the panoramic shot you can see on the right side that I have a feeder hanging in among the tree that is really an overgrown hedge.  I’ve begun feeding fairly regularly, a first a blend from the Audubon soceity and later a bulk blend we got from Sam’s that fairly closely matched the nutritional mix of the first one.  Sunday morning while watering the flowers I filled the feeder up to roughly the halfway mark because it was ultimately what was left in the 40 pound bag after dumping the rest into a tightly sealed container.  This was at roughly 9 am… by the time we were out in the yard after my wife got home from church around 11 am… the feeder was completely empty again.  There have been times I have counted a dozen tiny sparrows feeding at the same time, with a bunch of cardinals, bluejays, and various sundry other birds that I cannot yet identify roaming around.  We have a couple that look like doves of some sort, and another couple that look like pidgeons.  Basically the entire time we have lived here I have wanted birds to hang out in the backyard and in the evenings I have been able to watch the baby sparrows hop and play around on the deck.  Unfortunately they are all pretty skittish at the moment, except for the Robins… they seem more than happy to roam within close distance of us looking for worms.  In any case… this is the non-gaming activity that is taking up a good chunk of my time.  On the weekends and evenings we tend to eat outdoors hanging out in our rockers watching the flora and fauna.  Yup… I am officially old, but not minding a minute of it.

Surprising Whim

Wow-64 2016-05-16 06-13-13-24

Most of my weekend gaming was spent in Diablo 3, doing various things…  and largely without purpose.  I managed to get my stash tab on Friday, and from this point on everything else is gravy in Season 6.  For awhile now even before the season, Diablo was the game I played when I didn’t know what else to play… and I spent a huge chunk of the weekend not knowing what else to play.  Normally Destiny would fill this niche but I didn’t really want to hang out upstairs when the couch was so damned comfy.  During the weekend I found out that my good friends Chestnut and Chaide from Wildstar have decided to re-up World of Warcraft, and the glory that is our collective community managed to recruit them to hang out on Argent Dawn Alliance with us.  I ended up logging in to do some invites last night and wound up sticking around and playing my Druid.  There was a part of me that thought… wouldn’t it be glorious if I could somehow ride into Legion with a full army of level 100 characters.  The actual leveling game of World of Warcraft is something that I have enjoyed greatly… it is just the Garrison busywork that ends up getting me down and making me no longer want to play.

Wow-64 2016-05-16 06-44-18-73

So the idea is simple… if I can focus heavily on leveling and or gearing my characters I might be able to get back into the game for a bit.  While watching my Sunday night shows, I managed to push from 91 to 93 and make a big dent in Shadowmoon Valley.  Normally speaking I take this abbreviated path around Draenor, jumping each time a new zone opens up to me.  This time around however I think I am going to just focus on the questing, because that is the thing that seems to be able to hold my focus even when the rush to end game doesn’t.  I mean with this character I am not pushing to get anywhere, and Hellfire Citadel feels stifling at the moment so I am in no rush to get back there with LFR.  As it stands I have my Druid, Priest, Rogue, Mage, Warlock and Monk to level… and I am sure that this current burst of interest in World of Warcraft won’t probably sustain my way through all of them, but I might be able to at least springboard this into a renewed interest in MMOs as a whole.  The absolute hardest for me is going to be the Mage because… really I could care less about finger wigglers and the least is always the pure finger wigglers.  I can pretend the Discipline Priest is a cloth tank, and I can focus on the awesome demon pets on the Warlock.  However with that mage… all I am left with is the fact that I am slinging spells which never really feels amazing.  Anyways who knows how long I will be around for, but I enjoyed myself last night.

Flowers and Rank 5s

20160501_144104

Backyard Whim

20160501_144104

One of the interesting developments that has happened this summer is that we are spending a good deal more time outside than we have ever before.  I mean we have lived in our house for seventeen years now… and we’ve never really taken advantage of our backyard.  My wife and I tried to sort out why this was, and I think in truth it was that the back of our house looked bad.  Before moving in during the inspections they found a lot of termite damage on the wooden siding, and the bulk of this was located on the back of the house.  The repair job looked adequate at first, but as it aged… the back wall ended up looking like a patchwork quilt that even with a fresh coat of paint just looked “wrong”.  So in many ways I think it just put us off from being outside and having to look at it.  With the recent renovations and new siding, we also had a door installed off of the bedroom.  Years ago we created a quick and dirty patio with pavers, and now it feels like everything has finally come together.  Sunday morning for example by the time I had woken up and gotten out of bed, my wife was already on the patio off the bedroom reading.  There have been many times during the weekends that we end up eating lunch on the back patio as well.

Now I am not exactly certain where it came from… but recently we have talked about trying to put flowers sprinkled around the backyard.  Granted we have always had a brown thumb, but this resurgence of backyarding…  has made us want to at least try it.  This reached a boiling point Saturday when while running errands we found a couple of planters that we really liked at Sam’s Club, and you can see one of them in the foreground of the above image.  Given that Sams always has a rotating stock we went ahead and picked them up, thinking that if we waited they probably wouldn’t have two of the color we wanted later.  Now I had zero intention of doing anything with them this weekend… I mean because I had Iron Banner and Diablo Season 6 to play.  However before I knew it Sunday we were making a trip to go get rock and potting soil, and plants.  We are massively cheating in that the start of each of the pots is a hanging plant, but so far so good.  Now we just have to make sure they keep watered, but the hope is that since we are spending so much time out in the backyard anyway…  that it won’t be that big of a deal.  For those that are curious I created a nifty panoramic shot of the entire back yard.

Rank 5 For All

RemotePlay 2016-05-02 06-20-56-53

Even though we spent a chunk of the afternoon working on flowers and such, I still managed to make it upstairs on the PS4 by around 4pm.  This allowed me some dedicated time to play the Warlock, and push forward towards Iron Banner rank 5.  I closed with the weekend with my Titan and 333 light, Hunter at 324 and Warlock also at 324 which is significant movement.  I have a feeling that those last two points of light on the Titan are going to end up being pure hell.  However on a similar photo from the 22nd… I was sitting at 324 on the Titan, and 314 and 304 on the Hunter and Warlock respectively.  So I have to say… I am pretty damned pumped about the rapid progress.  The Iron Banner as a whole was very good to me, especially in the equippable gear and infusion material categories.  I managed to get all of the available gear for this week, minus a pair of legs for the Warlock.  There are numerous copies of the Auto Rifle, Rocket Launcher, and even managed to pick up a sidearm and sniper rifle from Rank 5 packages.  It has been interesting playing all three classes this weekend, and I have to say that in truth… I think maybe the Warlock and Hunter are just inherently better at crucible than my Titan.  It feels like they have a lot more tricks up their sleeve, whereas the Titan is just pure brute force.  Warlock Blink seems to be the best escape method for getting out of an engagement, and Hunter throwing knives seems to be the best finishing move ever.

RemotePlay 2016-05-02 06-22-07-24

As far as the sniper rifle goes that I managed to pick up, I am not exactly a huge fan.  It has Eye of the Storm, Speed Reload and Spray and Play which in theory would make it an insanely fast sniper rifle, but given its low impact…  I question how useful it really is.  For crucible at least you would have to land so many shots to make the kill, and it is hard enough to nail a single shot let along multiple at range.  I will probably end up holding onto it just because it looks really cool, but I have a feeling that sooner or later this will get infused into something else to bring up its light levels.  As far as new snipers go, I am still a much bigger fan of the 333 Her Fury that I managed to pick up from my Challenge of Elders this week.  High impact, paired with Triple Tap and Armor Piercing rounds makes it something enjoyable to use.  Tonight I have plans to hang out upstairs at least for a bit and try my luck at getting more of that tasty Iron Banner loot.  It would be amazing if before the end of the weekend I manage to get more of the 335 items to help push up other gear.  As far as the rest of my Destiny schedule for this week it feels a little up in the air.  I did not set foot into Kings Fall last week, and I would really love to remedy that this week.  The thing that sucks is that I am now in a position where the only benefit I will see is from a hard mode run, given that all three of my characters are now over the 320 light level that normal drops.

Deforestation

Destiny_20160315233041

So Much Change

BeforePicture

So one of the things you will pick up on if you have read my blog for terribly long, is that I don’t exactly handle change well.  I can do pretty well with juggling new information or new ideas… but when it comes to fundamental changes in my home or work lives it stresses me the hell out.  Basically I need a place of stability somewhere, and right now that is very much not home.  There has been this sequence of changes that are all positive, but all worrisome for me personally.  The worst of it was during the renovation work on the house, namely the fact that it drug on as long as it did and that there were constantly other people inhabiting my space.  Last night however…  it reached a new point when I got home from work.  We’ve never done much of anything with our backyard, and this year we are trying to change that.  We set up the patio off the new door to our bedroom, changed out the deck boxes, got a bunch of new chairs…  and even a wind chime (something I have always wanted) all in the name of making the backyard space more usable.  I don’t have a great “before” picture of my back yard, but I will be using one from this winter as a point of reference.  You see the trees that we have around our back deck?  Those are apparently not trees at all, but are intended to be a hedge.  The hedge in the photo is supposed to be about a foot and a half or so tall in front of the other hedge that is now a tree.  As a result of this we talked to a friend who does landscaping with the hope that he could sort things out for us and get things back under control.

thetrimming

The problem is I was not exactly prepared for the reality of what that meant.  There is what looks like the limbs of an entire forest dotting the backyard, and this panoramic shot was taken before they were actually finished.  They have since taken out the bulk of the second tree and cut it back hoping that it will start greening up again in a more manageable fashion.  Neither my wife or I were really prepared for the fact that we went from having lots of green blocking the view of the green belt behind our house and the neighborhood across the way… to having almost zero.  I have faith that things will grow back and the end result will be much better…  but man does it look like shit right now.  I guess this is what happens when plants are allowed to grow unchecked for twenty years.  At some point I guess I need to learn how to trim things like I probably should have been all this time.  I grew up in a house without any real landscaping so I guess I just assume that things needed to be left alone and allowed to do whatever they hell they wanted to.  This just adds one more stresser to the pile that seems to be growing.  On a positive note that garage is awesome again, and I have been going out each night to work out in our gym…  that we have not really had access to for a decade it feels.  I even went out quickly for a bit after the raid last night to work out some of the excess post raid energy, which was kinda awesome.

War Priest Challenge

Destiny_20160315233041

Last night was also my second time attending the Axioma Clan Rookie Raid night.  I have to admit I have been looking forward to this since going to the last one on the previous Tuesday.  While I have been enjoying The Division, there will always be a special place in my heart for Destiny and I have been logging in and playing for a bit pretty much every day.  I have to admit part of this has been easy access on my laptop while downstairs using Twisted’s Remote Play app.  The only problem that I have so far is the fact that there is no way to really chat over PSN party chat, which means that while I can do random strikes with strangers… I can’t really group up with friends reliably.  Otherwise the connectivity is good enough that I could in theory use it all of the time.  Now I doubt I would want to trust it for something like the Kings Fall raid when timing is extremely tight on things like the jumping puzzles.  Speaking of that I failed considerably less this week… at least on the ships.  On the annoying bit where the giant penis shaped pistons push you off of the wall…  I think I actually did worse but I am choking that up to the fact that I am normally in bed by the time we got to that area.  The raid itself started an hour and a half later than the previous week, which was a bit of a thing… given that I get up at 5:30 each morning, and my friend Squirrel had to get up at 4.

Regardless I had a great time last night, and I felt like more of a useful member of the team.  I still failed quite a bit at various things… like for example on the Daughters fight I ended up getting torn, which meant I had to do the jumping puzzle.  The only problem there being that I had never done the jumping puzzle before.  I sadly failed and wiped the raid, but I feel like I could probably do better next time.  Of all of the dumbass things that I did the cake is the fact that apparently in the two years I have been playing this game… I never realized that a Titan could cancel their jump by pressing x in midair allowing you to pretty much drop straight down at will.  All of this time I have been doing jumping puzzles by trying to time just the perfect amount of momentum to carry me over a gap and still be able to land safely on the other side.  Once I was told this…  and actually Grokked what people were saying…  the jumping puzzles seemed way easier.  Once again the loot gods were favorable, because I managed to pick up a bunch more items… the highlight of which is probably a 310 raid sniper rifle.  I also managed to pick up a 308 fusion rifle, but given that I have Telesto… and I don’t really even like fusion rifles I will probably eat it to power up another sniper rifle.  A couple of the other items will likely get fed to my hunter or warlock to help them get their light up.  Now that I can hit 304 light, I need to apparently farm all of the strikes in the hopes of getting Exotics that should have a fairly decent chance of dropping at 310, that I can then turn around and use to power up my other gear.