Behind the Times
There are times I am just extremely far behind the curve. For weeks I had been seeing pictures of my friends characters with a little orange bird on their heads named Pepe. I thought this was absolutely adorable since one of the things I have enjoyed so much is the way that certain pets in Final Fantasy XIV will come rest on your shoulder. Turns out that this is a bit of a hack and not really pet interaction. For those not already indoctrinated in the ways of Pepe… he is a bird that will appear in one of the trees of your garrison. Apparently he can appear in either the phase 1, 2 or 3 version. I’ve started typing “/tar pepe” to find him and mark him with a symbol so that I can find him either.
In any case if you mouse over him you will see a gear icon meaning that he can somehow be activated. If you click on him, he will ride around on top of your head for an hour as you go off adventuring in the world. While adorable… it actually gets a little old since he is super talkative tweeting up a storm while you run around. It doesn’t seem like he actually interacts with what you are doing… like I thought it would be awesome if he chirped a certain way each time we killed a baddie or something. In any case it is a nifty easter egg found in your garrison, and one that I find myself using quite a bit. There is something fun about being this armored badass, with a fat bird on top of your head.
While the origins of the American thanksgiving tradition are somewhat suspect… it has always been a favorite holiday of mine for its sheer simplicity. It is a day where we are supposed to reflect upon the things we are thankful for, while sharing that time with our family. There is just something so pure about sharing a meal with someone, and it has become my favored way of meeting with someone. Over the years however Thanksgiving has turned into a sort of “Christmas Launch Party”, and this year my wife said one article was even referring to Thanksgiving as “Grey Thursday”. Black Friday has become this temple of holiday shopping excess and a three ring circus has sprung up around it constantly pushing further and further into thanksgiving in an effort to somehow earn our dollars. This year it seems like most stores will be open Thanksgiving night to start the Black Friday festivities. We had to go grocery shopping for our meal prep and Target looked like this claustrophobic bunker, with new priced to sell product stacked up in giant piles all over the store.
I guess I get it, because if I were a store I would be doing whatever it took to get your money before you can spend it elsewhere. As Americans we have become addicted to sales and clearance, which makes sense because our buying power has stagnated over the last decade. The part about Black Friday that frustrates me is that it is essentially a scam, played upon us by the retail industry. The items they sell for Black Friday are generally speaking not the same caliber as the items that they sell every day. So while they might be selling a 40 inch television for only $150… it is sure to have some gimping feature like the fact that it can only display images in 720i or lacks an HDMI port. The stores are giving you those cheap prices by selling you cheaply manufactured products. The part that frustrates me the most is that it seems like the majority of things are not actually going to people who will actually use them. Saturday morning I will be able to load our local craigslist and see half of the products offered as door busters being sold there as folks try and make a quick buck by flipping them.
All the while for me at least Thanksgiving is still a day about reflection and a day about sharing a meal with the folks who are close with, or the folks you wish you were closer with. This is going to be a rough thanksgiving for me, because this will be the first one without having a grandparent to visit. This past year my last grandparent passed away, and she was the glue that held together my mothers side of the family. Without here there, all of the thanksgiving traditions were in danger of completely dissipating. Thankfully my Cousin has stepped in and between her and us we are pulling together a grand thanksgiving feast. My wife has been making this and that all morning, and I am convinced we are going to have way too much food. We are taking care of the deserts and appetizers and are by ourselves bringing like a dozen dishes. In any case this is a year I am really looking forward to, because I am hoping we can forge out a new tradition of family and food out of the ashes of the old one.
Last night was extremely enjoyable. I started the night with Wulf and Damai doing our daily group garrison assault quest out in the blackrock pits. This was a bit insane because without a healer… we kept trying to pull as though we had one and getting into trouble. After that we made a trip into the Everbloom to knock out a few of the Garrison side quests. This went significantly faster than the previous times we had been in there, in part because we ended up skipping quite a bit of trash. After that and turning in all of the side quests, we randomed a dungeon and got the Iron Docks. I had not actually done this one before on heroic, but overall it went pretty smoothly. There were a few dicey places where I was trying to play while responding to texts from my wife about outfit finds… but in any case we muddled through without issue. It was around this point that I decided to step out of the group. The actual raid off tank has not been getting in on many of the runs, and as a result could use the gear far worse than me. I figured for the good of the raid, it was best to pull him in.
In the meantime I ran off to Black Temple in the hopes of getting Illidans shield for transmoggy goodness. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how easy it is now to solo everything. At level 90 there were a few places, especially the reliquary of souls that caused issues. However I was able to straight wreck the damage reflection face without issue. In truth most of the trash was so far below me that it didn’t actually aggro. I could walk almost freely between bosses, so the entire thing went extremely quickly. On the way back out however I killed most everything because I decided the reputation gain was worth while. After that I popped over to Tempest Keep in an attempt to get the mount, and between it and a Serpentshrine Caverns run that followed collected an entire set of Tier 5 warrior gear. That was one of the tiers that I never actually had, because for the most part our raid blew up before getting through Lady Vashj. It isn’t exactly my favorite set of gear, but ANY transmoggy bits that are unique are worth having. I had a great night running old content, because I have so many memories of running the places legitimately that it just feels awesome to be able to wreck them.
A Loving Family
Today seems like it should be the culmination of my month of thankfulness, considering this is actually thanksgiving day. I was completely uncertain what I would write about until yesterday I saw a tweet from a friend on twitter. “My dad told me he will never love me as his daughter. I’m so heart broken right now.” I have always taken for granted that a loving family is just a default thing that everyone has, but I guess in truth that is not always the case. While I feel like that father is right up there with the worst human beings to every exist on the planet… I am thankful that I have a very loving family that is always ready to embrace me when I need it. I have an extremely complicated relationship with my family. I’ve never felt like any of them actually “got me” as a person, but at the same time I have never once doubted their love for me. Thanksgiving is one of those magical days where you can instantly become close to all the people you have not seen since the last Thanksgiving. That is the way it is supposed to work, and it pains me that not everyone has that sort of relationship with their kin.
My thanksgiving wish for you all is that you find the family that makes you feel warm and safe and wanted. Family is one of those amorphous things, that doesn’t directly mean blood relations. If you have a horrible genetic family, then I challenge you to branch out and go find the real family you have always been wanting it. My wife’s family for example this way of adopting complete strangers into their intimate family gatherings. Everyone is always welcome at any of the massive family shindigs, and there will always be more than enough food to feed anyone that arrives. If your biological family doesn’t love you the way a family should, then go off and make your own family out of your friends. Everyone needs a happy core to build their life around, and while I am not as close to my family as I could be… I have never questioned that they would be there for me if I needed it. For that, I am extremely blessed and extremely thankful.