Nineteen Years

AggroChat 59 – The Shadowrun Dragonfall Show

Last night we got the folks together to record the fourth AggroChat game club show, this time devoted to Tamrielo’s pick.  Shadowrun: Dragonfall is the second game in the Shadowrun: Returns series from the wildly successful kickstarter process.  While the first game focused mostly on getting the engine correct, this game focuses more on weaving an interesting narrative in the Shadowrun setting.  In tonights show we delve deep into the game and talk about the various choices we made while playing it.  Please be warned this is a full spoiler show, and we will talk about some of the plot twists and the alternate choice paths that you can make in the game.  I highly suggest that if you intend to play this game,  that you revisit this show after doing so as not to spoil any of the content.

 

This title is auspicious for various reasons, primarily because it is the first title that everyone joining in the show either beat or came extremely close to beating it.  Kodra and I started recording tonight and during the course of the show actually defeated it.  Ash however is in the final stretch making him only about thirty minutes away.  The other extremely unique thing about this game is it is quite literally the first game we have played that we all were able to give a big thumbs up to.  Join us next month for Kodra’s title as well called There Came an Echo, which is a voice controlled real time strategy game… that is certain to lead to some strange conversations.  Additionally if you played Shadowrun: Dragonfall along with us, please head over to AggroChat.com and drop the team a line with what you thought about the game.

Nineteen Years

It was roughly nineteen years ago yesterday that my wife and I first got together as a couple.  In truth we use May 30th as a close approximation of our “dating anniversary” because honestly neither of us really know the EXACT date.  For the most part we consider it to be the more important anniversary and try and at least acknowledge it every year.  We are not big into gifts and never really have been.  We tend to label things we were already going to get as “anniversary gifts” after the fact.  Like apparently the wooden rocking chair I got my wife awhile back is her anniversary gift, and according to my wife my new SUV and the used iPad 2 I will be getting Monday is my gift.  It seems like I made out like a bandit until you learn how we spent our anniversary.

Friday was the last day with kids for my wife and thus begins the yearly ritual of packing up her room.  This year however it is a bit more stressful for her because she is having to entirely vacate her cubical.  When they moved into the building they created this “collaboration room” for the teachers, and set it up in quite possibly the least collaborative method known to man…  the office cube farm.  This summer however it seems like they finally got the memo and are going to tear down the cube farm and replace it with a much more open shared workspace.  That said she has to completely move out of both her own personal cube and another cube for a program she manages.  So yesterday I spent my anniversary packing up these cubes in boxes and moving them as she worked on packing away stuff in her classroom.  It is not the most glamorous anniversary in the world but it was me helping her be less stressed so I think in the grand scheme of things it was a win.

End of School Stress

There are times in life when I have to fight my nature.  I tend to be fairly protective of my friends and family, and I especially feel protective of my wife.  She is a strong badass of a woman, who does not need me to fight her battles for her… but there are occasions when that instinct still kicks in.  Part of the reason she is so damned stressed right now revolves around an event that happened Friday night.  She is a rockstar of a teacher, and I mean that in every sense of the word.  She will fight for these kids and bend over backwards to try and make sure they are doing whatever they need to be doing.  This week was one of those cases where she bent over backwards to try and make sure one of her students was doing what they needed to be doing.  The problem being this isn’t always appreciated and sometimes misguided parents can add to her stress level.

It is extremely hard for me to see her in the frustrated state she was in Friday.  Every fiber of my being wants to protect her from the people who were stressing her out.  Thankfully school is over and due to the extremely supportive administration things will work themselves out.  But for the time being she has been wrestling with whether she did the right thing, or enough to help her students.  For this reason and many others I am happy to help her try and at least get one stress out of the way.  I know I would not be half the teacher she is, because quite frankly if I had to deal with half of the things she suffers with a smile…  I would have gone postal a long time ago.  She however has a level of dedication that can only be admired and respected.  So I spent our anniversary packing up boxes, moving file folders, and moving it around the building.  It might not be a glamorous chain of events, but if it lightened her burden then I think it was a successful way to spend our day.

Half Sleeping

AggroChat 57 – Preparing for Heavensward

Tonight we have Belghast, Ashgar, Tamrielo, Kodra and Thalen and once again we felt like we didn’t have much to talk about.  However once we dug in a little bit I noticed a trend.  Each of us was busy working on this item or that in relationship to Final Fantasy XIV each with our own goals that we have been trying to finish before the expansion.  Ashgar just finished his Nexus weapon after the length grind, and talks about how it compared up against other grinds he has completed.  Kodra talks about working on Turn 9 with two different raid groups and how he hopes we can get through it within the coming weeks.  I talk about my own quest which involves me descending into the dark madness that is crafting and slowly stair stepping each and every crafting class five levels at a time.

In addition to this there is some more Shadowrun talk as we each continue our play throughs.  Kodra goes into yet another dark place by playing some Demon Souls and talks about those experiences.  He and Tam spent a good deal of time this week watching the first season of Sword Art Online and we get into a discussion about that as well.  I talk about my experiences working on the Blackhand encounter in World of Warcraft, and we talk a bit about the lackluster numbers released by NCSoft regarding Wildstar sales.  Yet another night of varied topics here on AggroChat.

Automotive Struggles

It is now officially “weather season” here in Oklahoma and over the last few weeks we have been deluged in rain storms.  In fact we skipped Mother’s Day last weekend due to the fact that there was rampant flooding in the area of the state that our Mothers live in.  This meant this weekend we had to make up for that fact and venture out to see all three mothers.  Friday night we met my folks for dinner and chatted with them for a good while, and then Saturday we ventured to the northern part of the state to see my wife’s mothers.  The only problem with this notion is that there was the constant fear of bad weather hanging over the day.  The national weather service had used the term “life threatening” and “super cell” in relation to the storm that was supposed to be arriving that night.  To make matters more tense we opted to drive my wife’s Pontiac Torrent because it is more comfortable on long trips.  That said it has also been having some issues lately.

There is a point between second and third gear where it “chugs” for lack of a better term, or as my wife calls it “hiccups” while trying to change gears.  This seems to hit most often on inclines but over time it has gotten worse.  While driving north on the turnpike it happened again around 75 mph and this time had a corresponding check engine light.  I pulled over to the side of the turnpike and shut down completely, and upon powering back on everything seemed happy.  We were just outside of town, so we popped off and went to the local GMC dealer.  While the service department was not open, the shop foreman just happened to be working on his mothers car and was able to at least hook up the Torrent to the computer and tell us what was happening.  Turns out that the engine was misfiring and after some research there is a factory recall that we were never notified about.  He promised that our vehicle would not strand us, but instead it would just get horrible gas mileage until we got it taken care of.  Nonetheless with impending weather issues it made the rest of the day feel far more tense than it normally would have.

Half Sleeping

The national weather service originally predicted that a huge batch of Tornados would be hitting the Oklahoma City area around 3pm CST.  The storm however stalled out over the state and by the time we started up the podcast last night it still had not fully hit us.  The problem with a late night storm is that it pretty much destroys any semblance of sleep.  Today I am completely dragging ass because we did not get the “All Clear” until about 4:30 in the morning.  This means it was yet another night of sleeping with the television blaring the weather so that if something went horribly wrong over night we would hopefully hear it.  Sleeping while half paying attention to the television means you don’t actually get much rest.  I have a feeling I will be taking a nap at some point because right now I am struggling to get through my morning blogging routine, let alone do anything more productive.  The good news is that for the most part we made it through the storm unscathed.  The bad news is, that not every suburb in the Tulsa area can say the same thing.

The Broken Arrow area seems to have gotten hit the hardest from last night.  Earlier on the news they showed footage of what like the remains of a trailer part strewn along the country roads.  At that point the reporter was uncertain where exactly the debris was coming from, but there was a lot of it.  My hope is that everyone made it out alive.  It is always surreal to talk about Tornados because they are equal parts commonplace and revered here in Oklahoma.  Everyone knows someone who has been effected by one in the past, but at the same time… when you spend every spring dealing with the warnings it also seems “commonplace”.  For years I used to wonder how the folks on the west coast dealt with Earthquakes, but since we also have those…  I am guessing it is much the same.  When you are used to a natural disaster, it just becomes a bit less scary.  Right now it seems like most of the issues happening today are just massive flooding.  After years of drought, I had almost forgotten what “real” rain was like.  At this point all of the rivers are well over flood stage, but fortunately I don’t live in an area that actually floods.  Expect normal gaming blog posts to resume this week I hope, but today…  was all about the weather.

Munchkin Mania

Too Old for This

Every now and then I will say something like “I am too old for that”, and I don’t really believe that is ever the case.  It is just a shorthand for “I am old enough to release that it has consequences and am unwilling to deal with those.”  When you get older, you realize that your actions have severe negative effects on your wellbeing at times, and attempt to avoid these at all costs.  The funny thing is… staying up until midnight is not a huge deal, I do it all the time.  However this usually means that I have had a gradual winding down throughout the evening and am at a super chill place when midnight actually comes.  Last night I was out driving through town at 11pm, and it had a vastly different effect, and this morning I am paying for it.

While I greatly enjoyed my evening, I now feel groggy and useless this morning as I sit here attempting to assemble a post.  It is a sort of post excitement hang-over of sorts, and as I think about it… it really feels like a mild version of an actual hangover.  I am sure I could have slept in more, but my wife brought one of the ferrets in to “play” this morning, and when I looked at the time and felt the grumbling in my tummy I figured it was “good enough”.  I can’t be grumpy with my wife for waking me, because in reality it was a good thing I was up at 8 am, will keep my schedule from being thrown off too much.  Additionally I wake her up with the ferrets at pretty much any opportunity I get…  so turn about is fair play.

Munchkin Mania

So what exactly doing that caused me to drive home last night through the rain at 11:30 at night?  Well as I said yesterday a good friend of mine is in town for the weekend to attend the Muskogee Renfaire.  As a result Rae decided we needed to have a game night, where we would play board games, eat pizza and generally have a good time.  It had been ages since any of us sitting at the table had played munchkin, so we had to relearn the rules.  Honestly it probably would have just been faster if we had called up the Munchkin episode of Tabletop on my chromebook and watched it to “grok” the rules a little faster.  I am known for being all about the death, destruction and ultimately loot in the games I play, so Munchkin is one of those games that is ideally suited for my sensibilities… even before you factor in that the cards are hilarious.

Our mistake however was the fact that Rae owns both the base set and the Cleric and Ranger sets.  We decided to just jumble everything together and play with some massive decks of cards.  The problem with this is that in doing so it drags out the game immensely.  I should have taken a picture of my hand, but at one point last night I had some dozen bonuses in play and I felt like a little kid playing dressup.  I feel like somehow Rae stacked the deck or something, because she managed to win BOTH of the rounds of Munchkin that we played.  She is a sneaky one, and kind comes out from nowhere.  At one point I was set up to win, and I thought no one could do anything about it.  However she was sitting all that time on a card that allows her to right the monster instead of me.  Unfortunately my cards were in play, reducing the monster to something we could not buff enough to defeat her.

This is the fun of munchkin, there are no such things as permanent alliances.  Essentially anyone that is level 9, just became everyone on the boards enemy.  Dallian had the bad luck of drawing a lot of instant level up cards, meaning he became the focus of our aggression early in each game.  Like I would manage to sneak in the level up cards every now and then to kinda keep people from noticing that I was gaining power.  He on the other hand would lay down 3 in one turn, making folks realize “oh crap! he is winning!” at which point we all turned our guns to bear down on him.  I kinda feel bad that this happened since he was the visitor to our fair city and all, but all is fair in love and loot.

Warming Coldharbor

eso 2014-05-14 19-51-12-450 At some point I need to get out and pick up the dry cleaning today, but other than that my key mission is to get through Coldharbor, or at the very least ding 50 trying.  At this point I am really amped and ready to move on to the veteran level content.  Aldmeri Dominion is the first stop on the veteran content for the Daggerfall Covenant, and this is the faction that I have played the least of.  In fact I have not even got past Auridon, or even halfway through it on any character in beta.  So I am really looking forward to exploring this area, and killing copious amounts of elves in the process.  As my friend said, if you like killing elves… you get to do that more in Aldmeri than any other faction.  Unfortunately I kinda wish I could align with the Maromer… angry snake worshipping pirate elves are so much cooler than the Aldmeri.

Other than this I know I want to play some more wildstar at some point.  I would really like to see if my Chua Engineer remains fun as I start getting more abilities.  Additionally I feel like I have been neglecting ArcheAge, so I will probably be playing some more of that.  Basically today I want to vegetate and play lots of games.  We have to go to a wedding tomorrow, so today is my one real shot at messing about happily in various games.  Hopefully you too can have a relaxing weekend, and I am hoping that Dallian and Rae have a blast at the Renfaire.  They really are not my thing, but from everything I have heard says that the one here at the Castle is one of the better ones in the country.  One of the absolute best things I have ever heard of is one year when a guy went dressed as Spock, and he kept scanning people with his tri-corder and muttering “fascinating”.

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.

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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

Wandering Osage County

Fridge Frenzy

frigidaire-refrigerator-interior I don’t really deal with change well, even if it is a positive one.  As a result this morning I am a bundle of nerves and will maintain that state until the big event of the day is over.  As the title might suggest, we are getting a new fridge today.  We reached a point of equilibrium in determining that it had to happen immediately if not sooner.  For awhile the freezer was not cold enough to keep ice cream, but cold enough for pretty much everything else.  As a result we had been trying to eat up as much stuff from the freezer as we could to make the inevitable cleanout that much easier.  I believe it was Thursday at lunch, I went home to take a breathing treatment… and since I was already home decided to fix some taquitos to help empty that box out.

I pulled them out of the package and they felt cold but definitely not frozen.  This is the point at which I should have said to myself…  self don’t eat this.  However I am dumb… and this little warning klaxon never chimed in my head.  As a result I got insanely sick starting about thirty minutes after finishing them off.  Basically our food in our freezer was starting to go bad, rather than just not be fully frozen.  As a result this morning we got up early… which 6 am is super early for me on a Sunday, and cleaned the house in preparation for the refrigerator to arrive sometime between the hours of 8 am and noon.  The picture to the side is one I was able to find on the web of the fridge we ended up going with.  We have a friend that works for Lowes and it seems as though he was able to hook us up with his employee discount.  We purposefully wanted something simple… because generally speaking simple lasts.

The previous fridge we had was a wedding present, and we’ve had it happily chugging away for sixteen years.  It was as bare bones as you can get, and it worked well for a long time.  This one is not quite so bare bones, but has something we’ve always wanted…  ice and water in the door.  However my wife purposefully wanted one with separate slots for ice and water, again trying to keep the mechanism behind each as simple as possible.  At this point we are just praying that one it does in fact fit the hole in our kitchen, and two the water line that exists works and everything hooks up nicely.  Until those things happen… I will be a bundle of nerves.

Wandering Osage County

hominy_flowers_depot Yesterday it was absolutely gorgeous out, and as such my wife and I both had a serious case of wanderlust.  There were certain things that needed to get taken care of, namely dropping her car off to get an oil change.  The funny thing about having a FitBit is that it changes your behaviors in an effort to get more steps in.  As a result we drove the car around to the Hibdon Tires location around the corner from our house, and walked back home through our neighborhood.  We gathered up our cameras and were on the road after a pitstop a nearby QuikTrip.  At first we had no real idea where we were going, then like so many of our other trips… this one started with a simple question.  What happens if you go past Skiatook on highway 20.  We could have looked on a map sure, but since we had never really been past the statuary on Skiatook’s main strip… we opted to just drive over there and see.

sniders_soda For a long while there is absolutely nothing, then all the sudden you arrive at Skiatook lake.  Now we knew this existed, because you hear about it on the news, but I always expected it to be rather small.  Instead you have a pretty huge lake, with what seems like a focus on fishing.  There are lots of areas where there are submerged trees that would make for amazing bass fishing.  There were a few boats in places that I wondered how in the hell they navigated around to that area.  I am sure it was extremely careful use of a trolling motor and a lot of patience.  We continued on past Skiatook lake, because again the road was way too nice for it not to go someplace.  As a result we ended up in Hominy.  Now mind you… in 1999 we lived in a town next door to Hominy, so this was not the first time we had been there.  In fact we had a friend that lived there, and got our very first ferret as a rescue from the town.

hominydepot Hominy was not completely foreign territory, but we had not really explored it in ages.  We saw the semi-renovated train depot that now serves as the chamber of commerce and parked my jeep there.  Like most small towns in Oklahoma, Hominy is visibly struggling to keep business.  However they seem to have more pride than most.  Instead of letting buildings set vacant and become a danger, some local artist had taken to painting murals to cover up the empty glass windows.  Most of them are devoted to patriotic themes, and there is a store front “branded” for each of the branches of the armed forces as well as the coast and national guards.  In addition there seems to be an Native American artist in the town who is similarly painting murals on the sides of buildings.  While nice, this is not the sort of stuff that interests me.  I love taking pictures of broken down buildings and urban decay.

brokenglass The people in the town were super nice, and we ended up having conversations with a few strangers.  There was this really nice lady that runs the Napa auto parts store that gave us the lay of the land.  We also carried on a conversation with the guy that runs the nearby cafe, and watched him precariously teetering on a ladder… in a fashion that the ladder was not really designed to be used.  He had just moved into the cafe had was putting up a new sign that would be easily seen from a tall hanging post.  The town had a lot of potential, with these little areas where they had torn out a dilapidated building… that could be turned into nice little courtyards for outdoor dining, or even parks.  In any case Hominy was a nice and safe place to wander around for awhile, and no one seemed to find it terribly odd that we were walking the town on foot with camera equipment.

You can see the full album full of photos I took in Hominy here.

Clearance Lego Find

lego_find I love summertime for the insane clearance deals you can find at various stores.  Namely each and every Wal-mart seems to have complete autonomy on what they actually put on clearance.  As a result if you are willing to hit multiples of them, you can find some pretty amazing stuff.  From Hominy the easiest way to get back to the Tulsa area is to go through Cleveland… another town we were familiar with due to friends living there.  While Hominy is pretty much your standard small town, Cleveland is pretty much just a bedroom community for Tulsa.  That said they do have a newish Wal-mart, and at that point I was desperately in need of a bathroom.  The prospect of clearance Legos was just a nice fringe benefit.

Just like it is up to each Wal-mart to determine what goes on sale, it is up to each to determine where exactly in the store it will be located.  Some stores dedicate an isle or two to clearance, others jam it out in their garden centers, and the worst just mark down items on the shelf mixed in with normal priced stuff.  Cleveland Wal-mart had one of the better setups that I have seen mostly in small town stores.  They had two full isles dedicated to a mixed jumble of non-clothing clearance items mixed from around the store.  This place seriously was the Lego motherlode.  The above sets were originally $55 to $65 dollars, and I picked them up for $30 to $35 dollars.  This is where I love having a smart phone.  I end up looking up the sets and then determining if it is good enough of a deal for me to pick them up.

They had some of the really huge sets on clearance too, but even though the set might have been $90 originally… it sitting there for $70 is still a good chunk of change and not really worth it for me.  Similarly there are times where the smaller sets are just not good enough for the price.  THey had a Star Wars lego set, that was some sort of a probe droid.  The only reason why I would have really wanted it were for the unique Jedi minifigs.  But the realist in me had to think that really… the probe droid was made almost entirely out of otherwise not so cool pieces.  So while you got a few nice minifigs, you also got a bunch of junk that you would likely never use again for another building.  I am super happy with the sets I managed to pick up, and I am at least halfway to having all three TMNT minifigs.  The other really awesome thing is that I didn’t even notice until I got home that the Star Wars set comes with Cad Bane… who is awesome.

Ding Twenty

Screenshot_20140405_222806 Finally after all of this excitement I managed to get home and actually sit down to play.  At this point I have played 46 hours of game time on my Dragon Knight since launch.  I feel as though every level has been an accomplishment.  At this point I am twenty, and I am pretty damned proud of that fact.  Twenty feels like an actual accomplishment, instead of something you manage to get on your very first day of gameplay.  One of the things that Elder Scrolls Online has managed to do… is to bring back a sense of accomplishment with each and every ding.  In many ways so much of the game feels like a throwback to an earlier time when each and every thing was hard fought.  When you step into a public dungeon, you can feel the Dark Age of Camelot and Everquest roots.  This is the concept I wish I could convey properly to people, because I Think a lot more people would enjoy the game if they saw just how deep and nuanced it is.

Screenshot_20140405_210040 The big event of the night is that we pulled together a group and delved into the Wayrest Sewers dungeon.  So far other than the fact that it takes place in a sewer… and that you are slopping around in a lot of rat filled muck… I have to say this was my favorite to date.  It feels in many ways like the Deadmines of this game, in that there is a really nice fight the rebels style storyline going through it.  I won’t go into much detail, because I don’t want to spoil the storyline, but the quest reward at the end is a really nice heavy armor chest piece.  Additionally a spiffy ring and sword dropped that I managed to talk my healer out of.  That has been my favorite thing about these dungeons, is that folks are more than willing to swap gear around to whoever needs it.  Like I managed to get a really amazing two hander, that I happily swapped over to Waren who is currently using that as his main weapon choice.  As of today… we are exactly a week into the game, and I have to say I am still loving every minute of it.

#Lego #Photography #ElderScrollsOnline #ESO #RealLife

In Memorial

Bad News

When last I wrote it seemed as things were looking up, and that my grandmother was improving.  So I got up yesterday morning thinking this, and as I went through training I kept expecting to get a text giving me a status update on how thing were going.  I had just finished eating lunch at Chipotle when I got a text from my father.  Now normally my dad is jovial at all times, but this one was rather somber saying only “call me as soon as you can”.  When I saw it, my heart sank because I was pretty sure what was going to say.  Sure enough when I went outside to call back he said “grandma is no longer with us.”

Things were in fact going as planned yesterday.  She was visibly improving, and they had taken the ventilator and feeding tube out.  She seemed to be breathing on her own just fine for a bit, but then apparently her blood pressure shot up rapidly and she suffered a heart attack.  Apparently there is only roughly an 11% chance that a young and healthy patient is going to make it back from going “code blue”.  However when it is someone who is either very sick or very old, it is almost futile.  My grandmother unfortunately was both sick and old, and even though they tried to revive her there just wasn’t really a chance.

A Normal Life

After she had passed the doctors said that she was never going to have a normal life again.  This had been a fact that apparently no one shared with us, or at least not the right people at the right time.  Apparently it was highly unlikely that she would have ever left the hospital and returned to normal life after what she had been though.  She would have been in some form of a medical assisted situation from that point on.  She had already been tied to an oxygen tank for several years, and as much as she hated that…  she would not have tolerated more very well.

I don’t believe they had fully roused her from sedation yet when it happened.  So I hope that means she went relatively peacefully.  She had been “under” since last Friday evening when they did so to try and force her to rest.  As a result the majority of this week she has been sleeping relatively peacefully.  I am very thankful that I spent the time with her Friday, holding her hand and letting her lean against me as she struggled to breathe.  While she shifted in and out of lucidity, I know there were moments that she knew very much that I was there.  I got to spend at least a few moments with my grandmother before they put her under.

Bereavement Special

The thing is… I have been through so many deaths in the family at this point that I end up falling into funeral mode.  On the way up to my home town we stopped in at the grocery store to purchase what I jokingly refer to as the “bereavement special”.  People bring you all sorts of stuff when there has been a death in the family, but no one ever thinks to bring the most important thing… toilet paper.  So when there has been a death in my family or someone else’s I tend to bring a package of basics… because those are almost always the first things to go.  So last night I gathered up Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Napkins, Disposable plates, cups and silverware and a huge box of trash bags.

The hardest thing about last night is realizing that this is likely going to be the last big family get together.   My grandmother was the glue on my mothers side of the family.  Her house as the focal point of the holidays.  When my grandmother on the other side passed away several years ago, we watched as slowly any semblance of a holiday fell apart.  While I realize that I will still have the holidays with my parents, gone will be the big gatherings.  My generation is really not as close knit as the older ones, and while I get along fine with my cousins… we all have our own lives and things to do.  We rarely make the time to get together in any fashion, even though the majority of us all live within an hour of each other.  So this funeral may be the last time I see some of them until the next funeral.

Haunting Malaise

In all honesty, it really has not hit me yet.  I am so amazingly thankful for my friends and the insane outpouring of support that I have received so far.  You guys are all amazing, and I love you all dearly.  Right now I think my body is in mental shock, and at some point I will absolutely lose my shit.  I am not sure if it will be before or after the funeral, but for my Grandmother on my dads side it started during the funeral and continued on for a few days.  Honestly that death was the beginning of a downward emotional spiral, and I am hoping that I can stave that off this time.  I was in a really bad place mentally after that death, and I am hoping I can go into this one knowing that is a possibility and keep it from happening.

In part that one was towards the end of this insane streak of deaths in the family, and I think I just couldn’t take any more.  There was a period of time where over the course of 5-6 years we lost 14-15 family members.  I think I have mostly recovered from that, and I handled the death of my Grandfather okayish, and that has been about two years ago.  I guess in a way I am thankful that I saw her last Saturday.  At that point they had put in the ventilator and fully sedated her, and she was just lying there peacefully hooked up to all these machines.  It was at that point that it entered my mind that it was possible she would never make it out of that bed.  I have had the better part of a week to chew on that image in the back of my head.  Right now I think I am in a better place to deal with her being gone than I would have on last Friday, when everything was immediate and fresh.

My Childhood

No matter how prepared I am, this is going to hurt a lot.  My earliest memories from childhood are from my Grandmothers house.  My mom went back to work pretty quickly after my birth, so from infant on I spent every single day with my grandma and grandpa.  There are so many stories of me as a child, and at this point I find it hard to sort out the ones I actually remember and the ones that have been recreated in my memory based on the stories of others.  I do however remember laying on the floor in front of the television watching Mr. Rogers, and doodling.  I remember running around her house with a towel safety pinned around my neck as a cape.  I remember my grandfather chasing me around the house with a cattle prod, and me hiding behind grandmas legs for protection.  It was years later that I found out that the cattle prod he was using was completely broken, and he was making the buzzing sound with his mouth.

So much of myself I owe to my grandmother.  I am pretty certain that my love of games in general comes from her.  Every single day, for hours on end she would sit at the table playing solitaire.  Sometimes she and I would play candy land together, or trouble… to the point where both boards were completely worn out.  She was my caretaker and my constant companion as a little boy.  Hell the fact that I don’t use a recipe when I cook is almost certainly directly tied to her.  She was one of those rocks that you can place your world on as stable and unchanging.  I miss her so much already, not having her around is going to be hell.  I’m getting emotional writing this, and I have to go to training yet today so I am going to cut it off here.  Thanks again for all the support, I greatly value each of you in my “internet family”.

The Wi-Fi Miracle

Aging with Technology

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It has been a really weird morning so far, and as a result I am getting an extremely late start getting a blog out today.  For starters I was up pretty late last night watching episodes of Lost Girl on Netflix.  Neither of us really seemed to want to get out of bed this morning, seeing as for both of us it was a holiday.  The original plan was to go up to my mother-in-laws and set up a printer.  However there were several other issues that needed to be dealt with at all.  She is in her 70s, and the fact that she is on Facebook is pretty damned impressive to me.  However technology as a whole is this black box for her, and she seems to be unable to decouple the existence of the internet with the existence of her laptop.

For weeks she has complained that her laptop isn’t working, and in truth it works completely fine.  What is at fault however is her internet connection.  Quite simply put she doesn’t have one.  That is not to say she does not sometimes have one, but internet is not a thing she pays for.  Instead years ago I installed a wifi router at my nieces house that lives adjacent to her.  The intent was to provide me internet access when I was up there during a family illness so I could continue to work while still being available.  By some freak if science the wifi signal was usable over at my wife’s mothers house. 

The Wi-Fi Miracle

Using Google maps to measure the approximate distance it is well over 200 ft, and passes through lots of walls between the access point at and the location where my mother-in-law has her desk.  It was absolutely amazing that it ever worked, let alone has continued to work until recently with a over seven year old wireless router.  But she cannot grasp or does not seem to believe that it is simply an issue of not enough signal strength.  At this point it could be so many different things, her new laptop could simply have a weaker wireless card, since good wi-fi coverage is just an assumed fact these days.  It could be that she piled more stuff in the back bedrooms, which the signal has to pass through.  Or it could simply be that the wireless access point is slowly dying.

Whatever the case she feels there is a  grand conspiracy to deny her access to Facebook.  In truth I was really not ready to deal with this issue today as I have never attempted to set up a wireless repeater, let alone tried to make two different access points work together.  We have a graveyard of old wireless routers laying around the house as we seem to burn through them every couple of years.  The last thing I wanted to do was try and install a semi-functional technology in the home of someone completely technologically confused…  and end up having to do house calls two hours away.  So we rescheduled for next weekend, and this week I need to research some options and get something ordered from Amazon.

Gauntlet Revival

Hammerwatch 2014-01-19 16-29-59-38 I am not really sure if yesterdays Steampowered Sunday post adequately covered how much I really enjoyed playing Hammerwatch.  By the time I stopped to write my blog post, I had played roughly 66 minutes.  By the end of the day I had logged well over 4 hours.  Shortly after posting my blog entry, I hooked up with 3 other friends and we discovered a bunch of new things about the game.  Firstly when doing multi-player you have the ability to add crutches.  Since we were still obviously learning the game, we added two really important ones.  Firstly we gave ourselves unlimited lives, which allowed us to brute force a few horrible areas of the game by simply respawning back into combat and bashing our faces against a wall until we got through it.  Additionally we added hit point regeneration… which was extremely slow… but just enough to help take the edge off things a bit.

With these added bonuses… we were able to push through to the third set of stages and down two world bosses.  I have to say the game just keeps getting more enjoyable and trickier.  It seems like each of the character classes has some really strong abilities.  The paladin that I was playing eventually got the ability to proc a stun on mobs, as well as the ability to deflect missile attacks from an ever widening frontal arc.  The warlock began getting some life drain abilities which greatly improved its sustain.  While I didn’t pay that close of attention to the Ranger or Wizard they both also seemed to get more and more lethal over time.  I have to say sale or no, this game is very much worth picking up.  The above image if from a really cool Gauntlet bonus level that we unlocked.  So much nostalgia. so many feels.