A Path Not Taken

A Question Answered

I am getting a super late start today, or more so I am sitting down to write my blog post this morning later.  I dropped the dry cleaning off yesterday morning, and then shortly after decided I felt entirely too bad to exist in the real world.  So I went home and took breathing treatments throughout the day, in an attempt to convince my lungs to stop being assholes.  It has mostly worked, but this meant that I needed to get up relatively early this morning and go pick up the dry cleaning so we would have it for Monday morning.  I still have plenty of shirts in the closet to cycle through, but my wife had reached the limits of her wardrobe.

It seems like at least once a year a new social media technology is released, and the internet zeitgeist all flocks to it.  I generally sign up for these the moment they happen in an attempt to stake my claim flag and then they sit dormant for years until I finally decide that I want to start using it.  One of these is Anook, and I asked a very simple question last night on twitter.

image While I was expecting someone like Maeka who has been posting on the site for a good deal of time to chime in, I did not expect to be drawn into a length conversation with the Community Lead.  As you can see, we talked a lot and I started to buy into the vision.  The problem that they see it is that there are all these services, that you load up with content once… and then forget about.  Facebook is this way for me, I have a profile because I know that certain people would rather be notified of my content through that vehicle… but I don’t actually USE facebook.  I hate the service, I hate the way it feels, so I feel bad each time someone sees the content that somehow got set up to syndicate from twitter… and thinks I am actually using that as a means of communication.

I know going into this that Anook is not what I have been longing for.   I would love to have a gamer focused site that acts as a social glue for everything else I have content on.  A single point of syndication for G+, Twitter, Steam, Raptr, Battle.net, Glyph, Playstation Network, Xbox LIve…  whatever services I happen to have accounts on including my own blog and podcast.  I think this is a niche that if someone fills it, will be amazing.  What Anook is instead is trying to focus on creating a community with the ability to talk about disparate topics.  I see this as trying to be a social network, but almost from a guild website type of approach.  In the short time I am going to start populating it with my content, be it youtube vids, the podcast or my daily blog posts.

In the long term I could see maybe starting to try and use this for some of our other ventures like Stalwart Gaming or the Alliance of Awesome.  When I first signed up for the site at launch, it felt fairly primitive, and I really did not grasp the concept.  It just felt like Raptr or Steam without the nifty automation and game tracking functionality.  Now I can see what it is trying to be, and while I may not be 100% sold on it, I definitely appreciate their goals.  More than that I appreciate the kind of specialized attention this Community Lead gave me in trying to win me over to their vision.  Hell that along is going to make me loyal to the cause more than anything.  I will always reward amazing service with my patronage.

A Path Not Taken

This morning is going to be a bit “gaming lite” again, but with the hustle and bustle of the Newbie Blogger Initiative I’ve sat on a tale for a few days.  I wanted to make sure I got the posting underway proper before taking a lot of screen real estate for something personal.  My wife is a teacher, and this year her schedule aligned just right to allow her to attend the junior assembly.  This is one of those deals where someone inspiration comes and talks to the kids about the dangers of the world.  This is the sort of thing I as a teenager used to ignore, taking a sketch pad and doodling up in the bleachers instead of actually listening.  I am sure for some of the kids there this will definitely be the case.

As the speaker was introduced, my wife thought the name sounded familiar but shrugged it off.  Then he started talking about living in a town of 3500 in Northeastern Oklahoma.  At that point she started to wonder if maybe he lived in her hometown.  Finally when he started talking about his son… it hit her like a sack of bricks.  Growing up I was best friends with two other guys, and for the most part we were inseparable.  The man on the stage telling his story was one of those two boys father.  He had been almost a surrogate parent to me, as much time as I had spent over at their house throughout Middle School and most of High School.  When we first got together in College I was still telling stories about him and his son with fondness.

The thing is something changed along the way, and his son was getting into some pretty bad stuff.  Alcohol changed to Marijuana changed to Cocaine binges… and eventually I had heard he was even dabbling in Heroine… not that you can actually dabble in that.  Two things happened my junior year, one I started distancing myself from him… and two I got really sick.  The combination of the two ended up with me picking up some new friends, ones better for my well being… and while we had no falling out or anything… we just faded apart.  At some point after graduation we had managed to get back in contact.  He was running a record label out of Ohio, and prided himself in sending me lots of indie recordings of the bands he was working with.

Every so often he would call and we’d end up talking for a few hours.  When he moved back to town he got married, had a couple of kids and settled down as the director of an area Arts festival.  I thought that things were going pretty well for him, or at least on the surface he seemed to have gotten his shit together.  I visited him at least once at his office, and we went out to lunch, and then at our ten year reunion we of course hung out.  So it was with complete shock that a few years later I hear that he was not okay at all.  At some point the drugs had returned, and one day while driving home at lunch to get a fix he hit a special needs kid who had been riding his bike along a busy thoroughfare.  The report is that my friend didn’t even stop the car, and the cops followed him to his house an arrested him on the spot.

They say he was going fast enough when he hit the kid, he practically exploded.  They had to cremate him because there simply was not enough to bury.  So as my friends father was retelling this tale, my wife is sitting there in shock because she knows the other side of a lot of the tales he is telling.  She has this cold realization that had I not made a change and distanced myself… that it could have very well been me.  I hung in the same circles, but there was just a point where their behavior was getting a bit too risky for my tastes.  My friend deserves his fate, he did not get there over night, but over a course of multiple years of bad decisions.  However I feel horrible for his parents, because as parents go… they were awesome.  They were always so good to me, and treated me like another member of their family.

Once the assembly was over, my wife rushed up to the stage and introduced herself to his father, and apparently he just gave her a huge hug.  Then asked how I was doing and how things were in our lives.  He really was like another parent, and I feel like I need to get a hold of him.  He lost his son, in ways that he will never get him back, but maybe I can reach out and be a little closer to him and his wife.  They were always so good to me, that I want to be there for them however I can be.  So what makes the whole situation that much more odd, is that I was one of those kids who didn’t pay attention to this sort of thing.  I ignored more than my fair share of drug assembly, and ditched them whenever I could.  However I am living proof that changing the path you are going down can make all the difference in the world.  I could have easily been my friend, and that alone is pretty sobering.

Bangkorai is Huge

Screenshot_20140430_212918 Last night I spent most of the night streaming some Elder Scrolls Online gameplay.  Bangkorai is freakin huge.  Each time I feel like I might be nearing the end of the zone, I keep finding a pocket of stuff that I have missed. At this point I am extremely overleveled for the content at level 45, and the highest mob I have found at all has been 43.  This is a thing that keeps happening to me, I seem to move extremely slowly through content.  My whole general approach to Elder Scrolls Online is to kill every single thing in my way.  This means I probably kill far more badguys than the average gamer.  I have watched my friends play through content, and they go out of their way to skip combat.  This game gives you really good ways to skip combat in the form of “disguises”, however I NEVER use them.  The only time you will actually see me wearing one is when the quest literally cannot be completed without one.

A good chunk of the night was spent working on a series of quests in an occupied town.  I could have skipped almost all of the combat entirely by wearing the disguise.  However I ignored the fact that it was in my inventory and proceeded to lay waste to everything with a red diamond on it.  Which is a big funny considering my character is racially imperial… but apparently I like killing my own kin?  I am still enjoying the hell out of the game, and while I am super interest in ArcheAge I keep telling myself… to wait until I reach a point in Elder Scrolls Online where I am not quite so in love with it.  The game keeps giving me sufficient reason to log in every night and play, so until it stops doing that I will keep playing it.  ArcheAge will always be there when things start to get dull and I want to do some full on sandbox… however as time consuming as it seems based on the few streams I have watched…  maybe I am better off with Themebox or Sandpark.

Contest Entry

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Toward the end of the night Rae pulled me over into Landmark.  She has been working on the big contest that they have going on and wanted some feedback on her building.  So far I think it looks pretty great, but this has been where she has spent all of her effort of late.  Personally I still have so much to do on my temple complex that I am almost mired in a building funk because of it.  Towards the end of the video I end up traipsing back into my own claim.   I am not really sure where I am as far as the game is concerned.  I like the game so much, but right now there is not something about it making me to want to log in regularly.  I think maybe once there is combat or something other than “Lego mode” I might feel more strongly about the game.  Quite truthfully lately I have enjoyed Trove more… and it is far more primitive.  The reason behind that seems to be that there is more to “do” in trove.  Definitely going to be active in the Landmark community, but right now past the initial rush of wanting to build something… there just isn’t much “stickyness” to the community.

#PathNotTaken #ANook #Landmark #ElderScrollsOnline #ESO

Savior of Glenumbra

Awkward Ex-Coworkers

spicychicken We are having some minor issues with my wife’s vehicle, so as a result I had to get up crazy early yesterday morning to drive her into work.  Crazy early because I still wanted to be able to blog like normal, and she generally leaves when I am about halfway done with my morning post.  As a result it made the entire day feel sluggish.  After work we made plans to go eat at one of my favorite restaurants near her workplace so I could get cheese tots and spicy chicken.  The above shot is what the dish looks like… I snapped a photo some time ago to brag on her for bringing it home to me one night.  We hung out and ate with another teacher friend of hers and it was a pretty awesome time…  until something happened to taint it.

We had been there for a little bit, and our order had not arrived when I noticed someone walk in that looked vaguely familiar.  While trying to place him I saw his wife walk in and immediately the combination of the two faces together snapped in my memory.  These were some ex-coworkers and while they were nice enough…  they came from a period of time when I was at the worst place I have ever worked.  To make it worse they are both extremely good friends with what I considered to be the boss from hell.  So it is not exactly the situation where I want to go over and “catch up”.  Thankfully they were with what looked like parents and too busy with their own conversations to notice me much.

I hate that anyone associated with that workplace is immediately flagged as an enemy in my head, and I am not really sure how to get past it.  Every place I have ever worked I have been the group rockstar, and the current environment is no less true…  although in my present situation we have three rockstars working on the same team.  This workplace however, from day one there was nothing I could ever do right.  The boss would loosely stub things out in a project website, with roughly a single sentence describing what needed to be done.

If I asked questions as to what the hell he meant by that…  I would catch hell for not taking initiative.  If I figured things out on my own, and just got the job done… I would catch hell for not doing it exactly like he wanted it to be done.  There was seriously a no win situation, and the two people that walked in represented that time period in my life.  Every time I see someone associated with that period I just want to scream how much of an asshole that guy was and how he made my life complete and total crap.  But instead I smile and nod and try my damnedest to ignore them and hope they walk away.

Savior of Glenumbra

Screenshot_20140404_220811 Last night we got home fairly late from meeting the friend for dinner, so by the time I made it upstairs it was almost eight.  At that point folks had already paired up into dungeon runs, so I opted to simply focus on finishing up the rest of Glenumbra.  I feel like I am moving super slow, because I simply cannot chew through the Elder Scrolls content as fast as others seem to be able to.  I have friends who have been “finished” with Glenumbra for some time, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are nowhere near 100% on the zone… and quite truthfully as much time as I have spent there I seriously doubt I have gotten everything either.  I do have all of the icons on the map turned from black to white, and have gotten 100% of the skyshards… so I feel like it is “good enough” for me to move on.  Last night after finishing Crosswych I got the “Savior of Glenumbra” achievement.

Screenshot_20140404_220734 I have to say… Stormhaven means serious business.  I managed to get to level 18 in Glenumbra before moving on, but when I moved into Stormhaven that is supposed to be a 15+ zone I noticed everything hit considerably harder.  Granted this could be in part to the fact that I am still mostly wearing level 14 gear, since I need High Iron which cannot be found in Glenumbra.  More so I think that they have just ratcheted up the difficulty.  Instead of fighting random bandits, you are now fighting random daedra.  While they might not have the hitpoint pool…  Clanfear are Clanfear…  they all seem to be just as hard to kill.  The new zone is just as lovely, if not slightly more damaged by the conflict.  The screenshots are from the first town, which is a lovely little port just a ways inside of the zone line.  I look forward to meandering my way across the zone like I did in glenumbra.

I swear this game was designed specifically for me, because it is littered with things to find and interesting things to kill.  I love that crafting can be leveled without having ever crafted a single item.  I am constantly bringing back bags full of gear that I got from killing baddies, and through doing nothing but deconstruction I have managed to get Woodworking to 10, and Clothing to 9.  While I have been making plenty of blacksmithing items, I still have gotten most of my levels from deconstructing “found” things.  This is the only game system I have ever played that supported leveling crafting through mass slaughter.  I have to say I love it though, it lets me play the game the way I want to play it, and limit my time hovering over the forge.

Visiting a Friend

Landmark64 2014-04-05 09-02-04-73 This morning I saw a tweet from Scopique thanking me for reminding him to feed his claim in Landmark… which in turn reminded me to log in and feed my own.  As much as it might annoy me that we can only store five days worth of copper in our claim banks, it is in the very least forcing me to log in every few days to make sure I have it fully stocked.  Right now I am in a weird place with my own claim.  I need to go on another massive stone harvesting run, but I have not been able to bring myself to do so… because I would rather be playing Elder Scrolls Online.  For a few days however my friend Syl has said that I should pop by her claim and see the progress.  As a result I ended up with a pretty cool screenshot of the pair of us overlooking her claim.

Landmark64 2014-04-05 08-55-26-26 I hope she won’t be cross with me for posting a picture of her Inn “in progress”.  I have to say the interior is coming along extremely well.  I love the fireplace and the basin, and on a rack behind me is a really cool lance that she made from scratch.  I love the way the house is wrapped around the tree.  Makes me realize just how much work I need to do on my own.  I am really good at roughing out massive structures, but I always lack the drive to go back in later and do the fine detail work.  She however seems to excel at it, putting the finishing touches on rooms as she builds them.  Super impressed with what she has done so far, and hopefully at some point this weekend I will get the drive to log in and go on another massive stone farming expedition.  If nothing else was cool to pop over and see her claim for a bit before logging to work on this here blog post.  Is that blogception?

#ElderScrollsOnline #Landmark #Glenumbra #Stormhaven #ESO

Rocky Horror Rejection

Of Large Templates

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-05 22-30-24-99 After piddling a bit in Rift and running Onyxia on the three character that can easily solo her, I settled into Everquest Next Landmark and attempted to recreate my forest temple.  I had managed to successfully template the entire structure and suck back up all of the material night before last, so my hope was that it would in fact be as simple as plunking down the template and moving on.  The problem is, large templates are extremely hard to work with.  After spending an hour placing and undoing the template trying to get it just right, I finally said screw it and started from scratch again.  The above shot shows a rare moment when my claim is flooded in sunlight.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-05 21-01-38-14 The biggest problem I have noticed with templates is that they seem to align to the smallest block size instead of whatever block size you happen to have set as your tool.  When you are trying to move a template that takes up your entire claim… it becomes extremely hard to determine when exactly it is in the right spot.  I managed to get it pretty damned close at times, but never quite perfect.  In the above image I had run out of stone while working on the flooring, but I have since fixed that and finished the first floor for now.  Eventually I will build a staircase up to the second floor, but until I have enough stone to make a second floor that point is moot.  The temple as it is right now has taken roughly 200,000 stone.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-06 06-26-05-80

The last thing I was working on last night before logging was building out the front porch area.  There is a ramp leading up now that I smoothed out and a stone railing of sorts.  My plan is to keep all of my crafting machines out here so that anyone who happens to be moving past my claim can use them.  That has been one of the really cool things about Landmark is that all of these player towns have sprung up.  It reminds me quite a bit of Horizons, in that a little crafting community is starting to spring up here and there.  It would be really cool if they added some large scale public works type projects that they players can work on.  I remember guarding crafters as they carried loads of ore and stone to the various bridge projects in Horizons.  While there were so many flaws in that game, it really was innovative in its social crafting systems.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 20-28-19-62 Right now my chief mission is to gather enough gold and burled wood to be able to craft the Golden Axe.  I have heard you can gather wood much faster using it, and I am really hoping that it will also allow me to fell the largest of trees.  I know it is possible to take them down, because I watched someone doing it the other night.  Essentially to truly complete the first floor I will need lots and lots of trees.  I want to put wood braces to support the second floor and have them jut out slightly from the sides of the building.  I have always liked that look but to be able to do them I need a ton of wood.  Additionally while searching for the gold ore needed… I hope to gather enough stone to begin construction on the second floor.  Finally there are a few machines that I am missing from my porch, so I want to gather up the bits to make the one that can finish marble especially.

Rocky Horror Rejection

For anyone who has ever been to a live performance of the rocky horror picture show, you know that it is a really raucous occasion.  Would you believe that I managed to get kicked out of a showing?  While I was in High School the local performing arts theater thought they would be edgy and host a showing of the movie.  For starters it was a far more sedate version of the Rocky Horror Picture show.  There was no live group dressed as the characters and performing all of the scenes, and no virgin sacrifices.  Everyone however did show up with a bag of items needed to do the various tributes to the scenes.  Even in its lesser form it was still pretty fun, albeit greatly sanitized.

Things went south when we got to “Over at the Frankenstein Place”.  This is the point where everyone in the audience raises their lighters into the air swaying back and forth slowly to simulate the “there’s a light” portion.  Not being a smoker, I didn’t have a bic lighter on me… so I decided to improvise.  Gathering up a bunch of news paper we had to protect ourselves from the water guns… I decided to craft a torch.  I bound the newspaper together tightly and lit that bad boy.  This was a classic bad move, because I did not expect it to flame up quite so brightly… and quickly.  It was only a few seconds before we realize this was not going to be a good idea in any fashion so we stomped it out.

Moments later a security guard showed up and in his remarkable intellect muttered “all right who did that?”.  We gave him our best confused look, and then one of my group pointed down to the rows below us and told him that it was someone down there.  The thing you need to know is that we are in a huge concert hall style performing arts theater.  We sat roughly midway up the main seating, and everyone else in the theater were bunched together down by the stage.  There were a good 25 rows of empty space between us and the next person.  The security guard proceeded to go row by row, searching the entire space for the hidden arsonist.  All of this time we were absolutely rolling, but trying to keep it down just enough to not tip our hand.  Fifteen minutes later the winded guard came back to our row and proclaimed “Very Funny… You are all out of here.”

So the bulk of us all got punted from the show unceremoniously.  Looking back now, I could have theoretically started a theater fire, but at the time it sounded like a great idea.  No one really seemed to mind getting forced out of the proceedings, since it really was a watered down version of the “real thing”.  We wound up driving around for awhile and finally ended up milling around in a park for a while before taking our dates home for the evening.  We probably had far more fun loitering than we would have had attending the rest of the show, so I guess in the grand scheme of things everything worked out okay.  I just find it funny now because I can state that I got kicked out of the Rocky Horror Picture show.

Belghast: Wedding Photographer

Belghast: Wedding Photographer

Most kids growing up end up working food service of one form or another, but I somehow lucked out and missed that experience during my formative years.  Honestly I had a pretty good string of jobs throughout High School but probably the most bizarre would be that of Wedding Photographer… or more so the Photographers Assistant.  My father was a machinist by day and professional portrait photographer by night and weekend.  Essentially I grew up in the darkroom and was extremely comfortable around photographic equipment before most kids had learned to ride a bicycle.  As I got older and needed an allowance, I often got drafted into helping out with the “family business”.

This was not as glamorous as it might sound.  Essentially it usually meant sticking me up in a balcony somewhere during the service with a zoom lens and getting the nifty overhead shots that my father could not get from the ground.  By my teen years I could name all the basic parts of a wedding, and could spot little variations coming before they actually happened.  This whole experience has caused me to loathe weddings.  Being the wedding photographer is a really uncomfortable experience, for a few hours you become part of the family and have to figure out how to wrangle your way through getting the shots taken.  Thanks to tradition no one wants to take the photos before the wedding… and then after the ceremony it becomes a sheer struggle of wills to keep everyone in their clothing and willing to line up in the various shot arrangements that the bride and groom will want.  Everyone wants to mingle with family because they go away…  and while the photos don’t seem that important on the day of the event…  they will certainly catch the fact that you didn’t get a photo of them with uncle bob afterwards.

This summer I had to reprise my role of Wedding photographer as I got asked by the same neighbor who cleaned up my blood mess to photograph her wedding.  I mean seriously… how could I say no?  So I gave it the good ole college try and I think overall the photos turned out pretty well.  Within a few minutes of the ceremony ending I remembered all the reasons why I hated doing this in the first place however.  We couldn’t keep the groomsmen from changing out of their clothing into shorts.  This was an outdoor wedding in the middle of a August Oklahoma heatwave.  I feel like I got the workout of my life trying to wrangle a bunch of people who did not want to stand still for photos.  All in all however it was pretty successful and over time I managed to get everyone together.  It did not help to improve my hatred of weddings however.

Giving Up, For Now

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-04 05-53-33-00 For the time being I am going to give up on building anything in Landmark.  This is the fourth time in recent days that the servers have gone down and I have logged back into my claim being fully reset.  I could clear it fast enough again with the select tool, but it feels absolutely futile since I know I will likely be logging back in again to nothing.  Dave Georgeson posted this tweet last night which I seems positive… but we have had some optimism in the past as well.

I ended up clearing a little bit this morning so if things are still clear by the time I get home this evening I will consider that a positive sign and maybe just maybe start building again.  Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but it seems as though if you use ctl+v instead of delete when you have a large area selected… it appears that you harvest the materials contained within that area.  I made the mistake of clearing the last time with the delete key, meaning I likely lost all of my props permanently.  Honestly right now I wish I could figure out how to make torches, that is really the only prop I need to be able to craft a whole bunch of.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-04 05-48-19-47 Another huge plus is that I managed to figure out the lightstone.  Essentially unlike Everquest, it must be equipped in a slot.  Since the slots are not marked at all, you just have to keep dragging them into each slot one by one until it finally fits there.  You can see in the above picture the light radius that it gives off, which is more than enough to be able to see what you are doing.  Really that is all I was wanting since my claim is mostly cast in shadow all the time.  I like that aspect of it, and once I actually get my temple ruins built it should look really cool.  Before I can really do that however I need to figure out how to make torches.  I realize at this point I only have two crafting machines and based on what I saw yesterday there are like half a dozen or so that someone had out on their claim for people to use.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-04 05-59-09-46 Since I can’t really craft I have been working on upgrading my tools.  This morning I managed to craft the Heavy Silversteel Pick shown above.  I am not sure if it is always a legendary item, or if I just lucked out in the randomizer.  Previously I had been using the starter pick to clear any tier 1 material away from what I was actually wanting to harvest since the Pick/Axe combo was so much faster than any of the upgraded picks I had gotten.  However this one seems to finally be roughly the same speed.  Now that I can harvest another tier higher of material I am hoping I can craft the next set of crafting machines, and maybe even the next tool which I think is terrain paint, but I am not really sure.  At this point mostly I am looking forward to the voxel database stabilizing enough for me to start building again.

Belghast and the Severe Asthma

Bel is a Sick Little Monkey

Right now I am feeling like a failure, for several reasons.  For starters Steampowered Sunday never happened yesterday, because I kept waiting on the Everquest Landmark servers to stabilize enough to get in and record some gameplay.  I thought it was going to be a cool idea to do SPS over a brand new alpha game that lots of folks were interested in.  More so than that… I completely forgot that I had a raid last night, so I owe a lot of apologies to my raid group.  I was feeling pretty shitty Friday night during the raid, and over the course of the weekend I just got to feeling worse.  Yesterday was a bit of a haze and since the snow came down and my wife’s school was cancelled… I guess the day was lacking the normal sense of pressure that a Sunday has.

By the time I got drug down to our neighbors super bowl party, I had lost touch on what day it actually was.  Sweet mother of god the food there… so much of it and so tasty.  She had made these little bacon wrapped smoked sausages caramelized with brown sugar.  I could have seriously made a meal on that alone.  Like always she cooked for an army, and there were only 7 or 8 of us there.  We left around halftime because we walked down and didn’t want to slip and fall on the way home through our poorly lit sidewalks.  The food coma that set in just left me in a bit of a stupor.  As a result I literally could not remember that I was supposed to tank a raid that night.

I am really hoping they had enough to pull the raid together but since the other regular tank was also slotted to be gone… I am seriously doubting they were.  So I am posting it here, and I will post it elsewhere and say it in person…  I am sorry I flaked on you guys.  This is out of character for me, but it quite literally slipped my mind.  I didn’t even realize I had done it until I got up this morning.  Today I plan on trying to sleep as much as I can, because sleep heals.  As a result I got up at 5:30 and emailed my boss saying that I would not be in and then slept until 10:30.  I will be taking dayquil and breathing treatments to try and break the gunk up so that I can breathe again.  I really need to be viable for work tomorrow.  We are supposed to be getting a lot more snow and ice tomorrow, so we will see what exactly that means.

Belghast and the Severe Asthma

Since I am sick right now, I kinda wanted a factoid that blended with that.  I have touched on this a few times but it is worthy of factoidization.  I have extremely severe asthma, it has gotten slightly better over the years but there are times where my body still completely breaks down on me.  I have a number of triggers ranging from weather changes, to strong perfumes and smells, and the worst of all is smoke both second hand and smoke from fires.  This has been a thing that I have struggled with my entire life.  My very first asthma attack happened before the age of one, when my mother heard me wheezing in my basinet at the end of the bed.  My father had been an extremely severe asthmatic growing up and spent many a night under an oxygen tent… which was the 1950s treatment for such things.  I don’t think I was officially diagnosed however until after age one, because the pediatrician kept saying “babies don’t have asthma”.

To make things even worse I have what they call a “primary immune system deficiency”  which basically means I have a lazy immune system.  So I tend to catch everything that is going around and it takes significantly longer for my immune system to wake up and realize there is something bad inside of me that it should be fighting.  So this complicates the first thing significantly, as I almost always have some sort of a cold.  If they drag on long enough there is a moment where it wakens the beast and my lungs start shutting down on me.  This weekend is one of those times where a “nameless crud” has finally lingered long enough to trigger my asthma.  Most of the time I can take a bunch of breathing treatments and be just fine.  Every now and then it triggers a downward spiral that requires much more severe intervention.

Probably the worst of these was the 2005 Thanksgiving Holiday, over which I spent five days hospitalized.  I know I mentioned this event in the little letter I wrote a few weeks back to some smokers in my building, but this is the worst case scenario that I am always worried about in the back of my head.  Of course this was created by an unlikely chain of events.  One of our friends had a house fire, and I went down to the house long enough to be handed prescriptions to take to Walgreens to fill.  That was enough to trigger a negative reaction that lead to me going to the Emergency Room.  They hooked me up to a BIPAP machine that would help me breathe, or at least force air into my lungs, and since my lungs were so swollen shut… it caused me to respirate insanely fast.  So fast that they were scared I might have a heart attach that night, since my pulse was racing.

Eventually they were able to get things under control but it was five days before my blood oxygen levels came up enough for me to be able to go home.  By day two I was absolutely stir-crazy in the hospital.  All I really wanted was someone to bring me a laptop.  This whole event has made me super aware and conscious of irritants in my area, and before this happening I probably never would have had to courage to tell the smokers what they were doing to me.  With my large amount of weight loss, it has improved my asthma quite a bit.  However there are still moments where something triggers that chain reaction and I go down for the count.  I think this current situation is an accumulation of weeks of breathing colder than normal air mixed with some bug that is going around.  But there you have it… a relevant factoid for a day when I am pretty sick.

Liberation Pingo

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 19-53-24-37 This post has already gone on pretty long at this point, but I didn’t feel like I could truly make another post without at least mentioning EQN Landmark.  Friday evening late the Alpha keys went out to all of the founders, but I personally did not get it launched until Saturday morning after I made my blog post.  At that point it was extremely hard to find a plot of land that was claimable.  So I wound up in the middle of nowhere on the Liberation server and the tier 3 Pingo island.  I feel like this may be a positive thing in the long run as there seem to be more than enough tier 3 resources to be had there.  However this has involved a lot of my bouncing to other areas to pick things up.  Right now I am building cautiously as during one of the server resets this weekend we lost all progress and I lost my crafting machines in the process.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 22-13-44-02 The important thing to note… that if your tolerance for bugs is low.  Save your money and wait until this enters beta.  The game is very much an alpha product, but what is here is extremely fun.  Essentially at this point it is much like the early days of minecraft.  You wander around a very pretty world looking for resources that you can then take back to your claim and craft with.  The area my claim is in rests deep in a forested valley and as a result very little natural light reaches it… so all of the pictures on my claim tend to be cast in shadow.  Hopefully I can craft enough torches to fix that problem over time.  The key progress I have made is I have been able to upgrade to the Iron Pick allowing me to harvest some higher end stuff, and I have been able to craft the selection tool as well as replacement crafting machines.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 13-38-34-12 Right now the only frustration really is the long queues.  At one point yesterday I waited for two hours in a queue, only to have the game crash out at 50% as it was loading.  However as the evening went on this improved drastically.  I just want to thank the EQN Landmark team because they really went above and beyond with this launch.  I am pretty sure Dave Georgeson for example was up almost 48 hours straight working on the problem along with the rest of the team.  So I have to say kudos for the work well done.  I am already enamored with the game, enough that I have upgraded from Explorer to Trailblazer.  There are a lot of systems simply missing right now, like it seems you can send a friend request… but the other party cannot respond nor is there a friend list.  As a result we are using server channels so I have created a house stalwart one.  Typing “/join stalwart” should get you in, and everyone that is friendly is more than welcome.