Archive for the ‘Beyond WoW’ category

10 Things I’ve Been Doing While Not Blogging

March 9, 2014

That’s right, it’s time for a quarterly blog update!

Since all my posts for, like, the past three years or something have basically been “why I’m not writing”, I figured this time I’d give it a fun twist and share my exciting adventures Cosmo-style!

1- Visiting Nelson, BC

I had booked my January vacation time a looooooong time ago with plans to bike around Samoa. Sometime after then, I met the boy and we decided to go to Taiwan instead. After some thought, though, we decided that we should save for our Epic Journey next year and keep it simple. So he flew out out here, we hopped in my car and drove across the provincial border to visit my middle brother who lives in a settlement called Nelson.

Given Nelson‘s reputation as a hippy town, I was kind of expecting a collection of tents. To my surprise, Nelson is a full sized city with a busy downtown, lots to do and a ton of personality. We were there for about three days. In that time we visited some parks, toured a museum, ate delicious, delicious food (the best thing about BC, I think, is that it’s one of the few places in Canada where you can eat veggies that taste like something, EVEN IN WINTER!!!), skiied at Whitewater, learned to cross country ski at the Nelson Nordic Ski Club and relaxed at the Ainsworth Hot Springs.

We extended our stay a little bit when we found out Fred Penner was booked to play (a “grown ups” concert) that Saturday. Sadly, his flight got delayed and we couldn’t stay long enough for him to get to town. (My brother got to see him, though, said it was fantastic. I’m so jealous!)

What I took home from my trip to Nelson, though, was the cheerfulness and the passion of the people who live there. My brother always says to me: “In Nelson, everyone is happy all the time. We’re just all so happy to be here.” It’s true. No matter where we went – restaurant, resort, rental place, museum, info center – we were always greeted with an energy that just radiated love. It was a refreshing change from Alberta’s typical disgruntled, fast paced, cold customer service. To where I seriously considered looking to moving there after I get back from Asia. A tad too crowded for me though, and too far south.

2- Celebrated Burns night. Twice.

The whole point of rushing to Edmonton from BC was to attend Fannon‘s annual (and very fun) Burn’s night. While I have very little exposure to either poetry, scottish litterature or Robbie Burns, Fannon’s parties are always a good time and it’s kinda nice to discover my scottish heritage. I didn’t pick out a poem until the night itself (it’s hard to know what I’ll want to express ahead of time – I can’t prechoose poems for readings anymore than I can plan a meal before I’m hungry) but I did do my homework by reading all about Burn’s life (of which I remember little except for that he was really into women and had a lot of kids) and studying proper Burn’s night protocol (do any informal Burn’s suppers ever follow the whole protocol?).

I ended up reciting Winter: A Dirge. Didn’t fit the mood too much (parties, when executed properly, are happy while the poem is not happy at all), but it was quite enjoyable to read out loud. More enjoyable than I expected, actually. I should read poems out loud more often.

We ended up forgetting to sing Barret’s Privateers (not protocol or even scottish, I think, but an annual house tradition nonetheless), which means that my ENTIRE YEAR of practicing in my car (that’s right, my trips to Edmonton have been three hours each way of me singing myself hoarse with The Irish Descendents blasting on the stereo) was for naught. Next year. I’ll attend the party from Vietnam via Skype and I WILL SING BARRETS PRIVATEERS.

Yes, yes, I know this bullet says I celebrated Burns night twice. Which is true. The other party was even less formal, but still, on our drive from BC to Edmonton, we stopped at the Kicking Horse Hostel in Golden (fantastic hostel, by the way – if you’re looking for a small yet friendly town to ski and party in, check out Golden and stay at the Kicking Horse Hostel) on January 25. January 25, which is the official Burns night. The hostel owner happened to be originally from Scotland, so we gathered around the bonfire with some Glayva and some Innis and Gunn to recite some verses. Our performances were more of the train karaoke variety (that’s right! Train karaoke! When you play PS2 Karaoke using a train car as your screen – the joys of having a projector and being right by the train tracks!) than classic Scottish litterature, but it was a good night as well. And what matters, really, is that the night was good.

3- Meeting David Gaider

While in Edmonton, I figured I’d get ahold of my friend Ben (@ElBne on Twitter) since it had been almost FOREVER since we’d gotten together AND because he always says he has horses. Like most girls, I like horses.

Anyway, he ended up being in town that weekend (instead of at home), which meant no horses but still much oppertunity to hang out (and introduce the boy!). We made plans for supper at New Asian Village and I didn’t think any more of it. To my surprise, he brought a friend. To my bigger surprise, his friend was David Gaider. I knew they were friends but I was NOT prepared!

I had to work really hard to avoid squealing and jumping up and down like the crazy fangirl that I am. I had just finished reading Asunder which I devoured in a total of two intense reading sessions (it was a good book) too so self-restraint was a challenge.

It was a fun supper – David Gaider is just as interesting and insightful in person as he is when he writes and Ben always livens up the party. The hours went by waaaaay too fast!

4- Discovered the hazardous world of phone games

I got hooked on Puzzle and Dragons while in New Orleans last November. Which, I think, is what happens to most people who give Puzzle and Dragons a try. Then I drowned my phone. Because my priorities are clearly in the right place, my first thought was “oh no, my game!”.

I rushed to The Source to buy a new phone, but sadly, my game was gone. So I figured I’d give another game a try. I had downloaded something called Pet Shop Story awhile back but never played it. Now was a good time.

Ugg.

Before I knew, I had 4 “story” and one “match 3″ games on the go. Like some kind of sick phone junkie, I’ve been stuck on my phone, swapping from game to game, queueing up my food, pets and clothing orders.

At least now my coworkers don’t complain anymore that I never check my phone.

5- Worked a ton

For the entire month of February, my collegue was on vacation. Because of a misfortune, she ended up stranded in New Zealand and ended up being away until into March. And because I mentionned needing some extra hours, head office relocated my relief pharmacist, leaving me alone to work the first 15 (11 hour + 3-4 unpaid hours to finish paperwork/tidy up) shifts of February. I was frustrated, hungry (most companies, including the one I work for, don’t allow pharmacists to take breaks) and sore. But at least I made a lot of money!

Even beyond that, I worked a lot. Most days, I would arrive before 9 am, then not leave until almost midnight. I missed the boy, I missed gaming, I missed writing, I missed being outside. And most of all, I really missed me. I ended up getting pretty obsessive too. Even on the few days off I had, I ended up going in to do write-ups because I couldn’t stop thinking about work.

Now that my collegue is back, I have a few days off. I was careful to make a lot of plans (am currently sitting in a hostel in Banff!) so I wouldn’t be tempted to go in. Today was a little hard to tear away, but I expect it to get better.

6- Got sick

So funny story! Within my first few shifts of February, my legs starting feeling cold. Then numb and tingly. Then my muscles got weird and tense and my ankles and knees wouldn’t bend right.

I suppose it is for the best that my MS attack happened while I didn’t have any days off. It’s hard to be on your feet for 11-16 hours without a break when your lower body is rebelling, but had I worked a lot and been healthy, I would be bitter that I wasn’t out skiing. And if I’d been sick with a lot of free time, I’d be freaking out over the waste of perfectly good days off.

While the symptoms were similar to this attack, I didn’t end up howling in the hospital, which is an improvement. I don’t know if the spasticity around my ribcage just wasn’t as intense or if I’ve become better at avoiding aggravating factors, but I was more incomfortable than in pain.

It’s been getting better too. I’m not 100% quite yet, but I will try skiing again tomorrow. Should be good times.

7- Found a New Challenge Mode Group

Ben (yes, the same Ben) comes up with the best ideas. This time, he decided to get a challenge mode group together (yes, for WoW. I still play that.) and asked me if I was interested. My last group stopped running them after our tank left us for another game and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t given it second thoughts. Of course, I was super excited.

Sunnier and Arielle, two people who I’ve kinda always wanted to get to know but never had an oppertunity to, were also on board (Ben has a lot of friends in high places, it seems). Ed (the boy) grabbed his hunter and we had a group!

We’ve been doing pretty good too: 4 golds in 3 nights (at the rate of one night per week), greatly thanks to Arielle who knows every challenge mode like the back of his hand. I’m kinda getting carried but at this point, as long as no one else minds, neither do I. They’re all very patient with my srew ups and I’m getting good practice for raids. Because my raid knows I’m desperetely in need of practice.

8- Celebrated my One Year with Cadenza

Speaking of my raid, the other day I realized that I have managed to not get kicked from Cadenza for over a year!

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been more than a year since I died a bigillion times on that Heart of Fear sonic disk boss during my trial. From what they told me, it seems like it’s hard to believe for them too.

My relationship with Cadenza has been really different from my relationships with other guilds. Not sure if it’s because I’ve learned my lesson, or because I don’t have the flexible schedule of a student anymore or because the structure of Cadenza just doesn’t allow that sort of thing or a combination of all of the above, but I’ve been way, like waaaay less emotionally involved than ever before. I show up, do what I’m told, get kills, then log off. And I’m okay with that.

I do miss my old days of experimenting with holy pally stuff, of knowing everyone, of knowing all the fights and of telling everyone else they’re wrong, but at the same time, the lack of emotional rollercoasters is very enjoyable. I don’t know most of my guildies and I kinda feel like the stupid tag-along kid sibbling in healer chat, but I have made a few friends and I’ve had a blast at all the guild meetups I’ve been to. I even met my boyfriend through the guild, the first time I’ve ever met someone through WoW, which has got to mean something.

In case anyone was wondering, we’re working on Heroic Paragons now. A kill seems to be coming along soon, but, you know, stupid mistakes and stuff getting in the way. (EDIT: As I hit the publish button, I got a message that they killed Paragons – I’m not raiding due to shitty hostel internet. So it sounds like we’re working on Heroic Garrosh now.)

9- Bought a Juicer

I was at work the other day (because that’s always where I am – at work) complaining about how I can’t eat vegetables because they’re expensive, they taste nasty (remember I live in rural Alberta where veggies come in two sorts: frozen or rotten) and I can’t prepare them before they become unedible. Then a coworker talked about juicing.

I thought to myself: “I like juice”.

Shortly thereafter, I became the proud owner of a 70$ juicer.

Here’s the verdict: the culture surrounded juicing is targetted at people who believe anything they read on the internet (obviously, anyone who knows more than three biochemistry terms is a health expert), it’s really expensive (1 litre of store bought juice is 5$, 1 litre of juiced juice is about 15$ if you’re using anything but apples), it goes bad really fast (apparently preservatives are in food for a reason) and cleaning up takes longer than actually drinking the juice. However, the juice DOES taste a lot better than store bought juice and it is an effective way of sneaking veggies into my diet. I expect to be way less constipated now.

10- Decided to get eye surgery

Ed and I were talking about all the eye equipment I’ll need for our epic journey. Spare glasses, contacts, contact gear, prescription sunglasses… For that price I could just get lazik!

Two days later, I was at the Lazik clinic for a consult. Shortly after, I was booked for surgery on May 22 (I would have gotten in sooner but my insurance is on cooldown until then).

I’d been holding off because my eyesight isn’t stable yet, which it turns out, is not a valid reason to hold off. So yeah, I expect to be not-blind in a few months. I’m very excited!

* * *

And that concludes 10 things I was doing while not blogging!

I hope the three of you who have not given up on me are also doing well and I hope to write again within the year. Cheers!

Blizzcon and the longer way home

November 22, 2013

Now that everyone has forgotten about Blizzcon, I’m finally home with some time to write about it.

When I booked my vacation 6 months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to put Blizzcon in the middle, so I could participate in anything happening before or after. I didn’t expect to be flying East to New Jersey, then West to Anaheim, then East to New Orleans, then West home again. But it was worth it! And I did get to read a lot while in planes. I haven’t had time to read in so long, I was surprised I still remembered how.

Blizzcon was both a blast and a blur. I ran from panel to panel, from party to party, in hopes of seeing everyone and everything. During my past Blizzcons, I was all “COMMUNITY COMMUNITY COMMUNITY!”. This year, I barely socialized and spent most of my time enjoying the company of my guildies (of past and present).

I also stressed out a lot about the hotel. Like a lot! For the 4 months leading up to Blizzcon, my stomach was a knot and anyone who spent more than 5 minutes with me got an earful about how I was afraid the hotel would rip me off and about how I might disappoint my roommates and and and! To all of you, I am sorry! And I am pleased to say that everything worked out and no one got ripped off and my roommates were lovely and seemed happy.

It’s probably a surprise to those who know me only a little bit because my reputation as a carefree traveler precedes me, but the truth is, I stress just as much as the next person. Perhaps more. It takes me forever to make bookings, if I slip and make a mistake, it’s a tragedy, I spent a lot of time at night awake thinking about the things that could go wrong. And I don’t travel well at all. Flying makes my IQ plummet, screws up my sleep-wake cycle and makes me weepy and confused. But I do it anyway. Traveling is hard, it’s really really hard, but the payoff is worth it.

Anyway, I flew home Friday, in hopes of having a day off between then and going back to work on Sunday, but sadly, Alberta has been plagued with snowstorms and, consequently, sheer ice roads. I stayed with Fannon overnight, and spent all day Saturday driving home. Quite the harrowing experience, but I did make it back safely!

Blizzcon

There were, um, a lot of panels. I watched most of the WoW ones, which were interesting. I was happy to see how seriously they were taking the movie. I have hope that we’ll finally see a decent movie come from a video game. The new expansion is a little…well, we’ll see how it plays out. I don’t feel strongly about it because I don’t feel strong about WoW news until it hits me in the face and because it’s highly unlikely I’ll be playing with any seriousness in the next expansion.

I tried the demo. It was kinda fun. I was pleased until someone asked me what I thought of the new paladin abilities. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t even do the demo with a paladin. I just picked whatever happened to be highlighted on my screen, which ended up being a warlock. I’m such a bad blogger. (I also accidentally turned off the computer after I finished the demo, causing a lot of annoyance to the staff on site. I’m such a bad tester. I’m a bad warlock too. I spent more time running to my corpse then actually playing.)

Speaking of not playing the next expansion, my little heart broke a bit every time I’d excitedly start a sentence with “Next year/expansion/Blizzcon” only to remember that I have bigger plans in motion. I’m super excited about spending a year overseas, discovering a different world, but it’s harder than I expected to not see myself playing this game. It’s been so central in my life for the past 8 years. But it is time to move on. There’s a big world out there, and after that, I would like a family. There are also lots of lessons I’d like to take, other hobbies I’d like to experiment with and other work opportunities I’d like to explore, but that I haven’t been able to because the rare evenings I’m off work are tied up with raiding. Plus, I feel like my health is wavering. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t start moaning about how sleepy I was 2 hours into raid. And I raid super early. Until now, I wrote it off to spending up to 16 hours a day at work without so much as a pee break, but even on vacation, even after I was rested, I couldn’t do anything for more than a few hours at a time without sleep attacks. As my life becomes more and more of a struggle to stay awake, it seems like raiding probably isn’t the ideal after-work activity for me.

On the Blizzcon people side of things, despite my apprehensions, I absolutely loved my roommates (Anafielle, Kalesti and Ellumina). They were all so different and it was a pleasure to get to know each of them and hear their unique perspectives on WoW, on WoW players and on the convention. I also came across Elfie, Vidyala and Vosskah (I kept running into them everywhere…there’s a force that brings Alberta gamers together, I think!), Hestiah (who is so nice! She waited with me when I forgot to print my ticket confirmation and helped me find my friends when I got lost!), Jasyla, Rhidach and others that I don’t remember because OMG SO MANY AWESOME PEOPLE IN SO LITTLE TIME!

One of the highlights of the convention was the pally meetup (I think it was planned/promoted by Theck and Anafielle, thanks guys! You rock!). I wasn’t sure if holy pallies were invited, but I showed up anyway because I do that. I ended up running into Megacode and some of his guildies and a few other holy pallies. Here’s a picture of me and Megacode (all good Blizzcon posts should contain pictures).

holypallies2

And, of course, the guildies, with whom I spent most of my time. Both the Conquest crew and the Cadenza crew were fantastic. To the point where I wonder what I must have done in past lives to deserve having such awesome people in my current life. These people are what make Blizzcon so much fun. I don’t have to worry if I say stupid stuff (worse case scenario, they’ll get a good laugh at my expense), I don’t have to worry about being awkward or too nerdy, and well, I just don’t have to worry. It’s a welcome break from the pressures of the non-WoW people world. And the jokes are funny, and the beer flows, and the hours get so so so short. Oh, and this year especially, the food was good. With Conquest, the official guild meetup was held at a fun brewery, and Cadenza’s meetup was at a japanese barbeque. Both times I ate until I was about to burst! The choice of restaurant for each guild was pretty appropriate because the two different styles really reflected each guild’s very different (but equally delicious) cultures.

Pre/Post Blizzcon

I find it funny that people seem surprised that things went really well between the boy and I. I don’t know if it’s the internet thing, or the distance things, or my fierce independence, but every time I say “It was awesome!”, I get a reaction of “Really?”. You’d think they’d know me by now. I never do things the way I’m supposed to, and that includes dating.

Anyway, I got to meet his parents (he gets to meet mine over Christmas). They’re quite traditional and from a different culture, and even though I was preemptively briefed on proper protocol and stuff, I still panicked a little during the initial gift exchange. (“OMG WHAT DO I DO, WHAT DO I SAY, I WANT THEM TO LIKE ME!!!”) They seemed ok with me, though, and they were very nice, despite the fact that I was absolutely terrified. (Perhaps, even, it may have been the first time in my life where my ridiculous and disproportionate shyness came in handy.)

We went to New York city for two days and I got to see my first musical on Broadway! (I have seen Rent in the past, with the Broadway cast, but it was in Toronto so it doesn’t count.) Rock of Ages was most excellent, and OMG THEIR VOICES! Even though I went in expecting the best of the best singers in the genre, I was still blown away by how beautiful and breathtaking their voices are. I have so much trouble believing that this music was coming out of real human beings.

Our hotel in New York, The Paramount on Times Square, was pretty cool too. I’d been warned that hotel rooms are tiny in New York, and yeah, it was pretty small. The little bed barely fit in the room and I barely fit in the bathtub. But the location was awesome (RIGHT ON TIMES SQUARE!), the smart use to storage space gave me ideas (I have picture of how the towels were stored behind the bathroom mirror. Brilliant! I want that in my house.) and the design fit the Broadway ambiance. Got a good deal on it too. Barely 100$ for a 4 star hotel on Times Square? YES PLEASE! (Just to give you an idea, even the 2 star hotels at worse locations we looked at were above 300$/night.)

And we ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. I feel like all I did that trip was eat and sleep! We ate ramen (and I got an authentic New York experience of waiting an hour to get a table), Japanese buffet, Philly cheese steaks (we went all the way to Philly to get cheese steaks!), Italian pasta, Korean barbeque (where I met my guild/raid leader for the first time! He’s much less scary in person than online.), some Chinese homecooking (after all that restaurant food, it SO nice to eat some yummy homemade food!), Dim Sum and a few meals of Pho. I’m probably even forgetting something. After that leg of the trip, I think it was the first time in my life where I wasn’t sick and still didn’t feel like eating anymore.

After Blizzcon, we met up in New Orleans. Again, we ate a lot! I really enjoy cajun cooking so I led us from restaurant to restaurant until we were both worried about bursting. I made it to some live music at the Spotted Cat this time and we did the swamp tour, both things I regretted not doing last time I was in NOLA. We were really unlucky with the weather, though. It was so cold. Even for someone coming from Canada, it was freaking cold. As a result, we didn’t see much wildlife during the tour and I didn’t want to spend much time outside. We drank disappointingly very little alcohol because, seriously, who wants cold drinks when you’re freezing?

And that concludes the summery of my vacation

I got a lot of stuff done before I left on holidays and things have calmed down at work (most of my free time over the past three months was dedicated to writing this application for my work, hence the lack of WoW and pally-ing), so I finally have some time to myself. I actually sat on the couch this morning for, like, an hour. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. I can seriously get used to this time to breath thing. So yeah, I’m hoping that this break from all the stress will help me write some more.

As for the next trip? Christmas at my parents house in Cape Breton. I can’t wait!

Still Running

October 4, 2013

When I was a student, stressed and exhausted and constantly panicking at hectic paces and deadlines, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to be out of school and have a normal life.”

Then I got my first permanent job. After tired morning upon tired morning of looking at my dark sunken eyes in the mirror, and after night upon night of breathing exercises to regain control after a hard day, it dawned on me that the problem was me. Between being awfully slow (everything takes me hours and hours more than everyone else), being a perfectionist (not an efficient combination) and an insatiable need to TAKE ON ALL THE THINGS, it would seem I’m condemned to a life time of running. Running and never catching up.

I used to envy the unemployed, but the more I get to know myself, the more I think my life would be just as hectic, no matter what elements I took out of it.

All that to say that a few weeks ago, I was a guest on the Leetsauced Podcast to celebrate their 3rd podcasting anniversary. It took me this long to get back to the blog, but these are the codes you may be looking for:

Logan’s code: ZD-2LTBF

My code: QZXE-S5A6

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s normal. It seems the hosts were critted by real life even harder than I was and I believe they haven’t been able to upload the episode yet.

But, you know, keep an eye on their site and you might win something fun! (On top of the awesome privilege of hearing my naughty noodle talk.)

As usual, I super happy to get to hang out and goof off. We’ve all gone our separate ways since our Conquest shenanigans and it’s been too long. Too too long. While I think Vik and Evan (Hi-ya) are mostly retired from WoW, Logan and I still raid together in Cadenza, but it’s not the same.

Other things that happened while I was running

As I just hinted at, I’ve been raiding with Cadenza for about 8 months now and still haven’t gotten kicked out (and actually, while I seem to get in trouble far more than most everyone else, I do feel like I’m playing somewhat decently!). The raiding is fantastic. We raid 2 nights a week, the attitude is more casual than most of the casual guilds I’ve been in (Guild forums? What are guild forums? Reading strats? You can read strats?), but we kill stuff faster than the most progressives guilds I’ve been in. Which is unbelievable given the amount of time we waste.

I’ve been raiding Kurn’s Kick-Ass GM guide (since I have no plans of becoming a GM, I’ve been treating it like “Memoirs of a GM” – it reads very well like an autobiography) and the entire time I wonder what our GM would say about it given that Cadenza, on many points (though in fairness, not every point), is pretty much the opposite of Apotheosis.

I do struggle with our Fri-Sat schedule. I wish I had found this guild as a student in Newfoundland. Raiding 10:30pm-2:30am when I don’t have to get up the next morning would have been amazing. I would have done so much better in pharmacy school if I’d raided with Cadenza at the time (though I would have missed out on some really good Conquest friendships). As community worker in Alberta, though, it’s not as obvious. Nobody wants to work the Friday night shift, so I often have to miss raid to cover it. And real life stuff is always happening on Saturday nights. No matter how much I try to avoid the Evil Real Life, it just keeps chasing me around.

But anyway, I’ve been in the guild for 8 months and I have a cute story to share.

I was reading Theck’s post about world PvP on the Timeless Isle.

He’s right. He puts it so eloquently and describes a big picture complete with relevant data and images, but essentially there are two words: Tichondrius sucks. World PvP in itself isn’t the problem. I played plenty on Nerzhul and Eredar and had excellent experiences, better even than on PvE servers. But the faction imbalance (along with the Horde PvP celebrities who attract masses of gank-happy fans) sets Tichondrius apart. I don’t even do new content because there’s no point. No matter how much PvP gear you put on or how many friends you bring with you, you’ll do nothing but sit in the graveyard as a ghost all night.

Anyways. Sensing my frustration, my fellow holy paladin guildy, who has a lot of alts on a PvE server, added me to real ID and invited me to group whenever he saw me on. Normally I don’t group outside of raids. I play by myself, at my own pace, for my own fun, thank you very much. But Tichondrius (and low-level Nerzhul since it shares Tich’s CRZ) is so awful that I couldn’t turn him down. So night after night, he’d invite me to group and we’d chat. After a few weeks of this, I finally gave him the time of day.

He came to visit me last week and I’m going to visit him the week before Blizzcon. I guess you could kinda say we’ve dating or something for the past two months or so. Not sure where it will lead, but things seem to be going well. A little good to come out of Tichondrius’ awfulness.

In other news, work’s been rough as usual. With half of my staff away, the remainder of my staff injured and inventory coming up on Saturday, I did about 8 consecutive days of being on my feet from 8:30 am to 11:30pm (most pharmacists aren’t allowed to take breaks, so a 15 hour shift means 15 hours of having sore feet and of being super hungry, sleepy and dizzy – and the shittiest part is that I’m only allowed to be paid between 9 am and 9pm, meaning the rest is basically just volunteering at work). So I’ve been pretty cranky and I swear I’m fighting off some kinda of sinus infection (likely from being exposed to the mold in our building for so many hours).

I had my first day off yesterday and I ran off to Jasper for some therapeutic thin mountain air. I didn’t bring my camera, which I regretted – the snow covered mountains with mist hanging around them were beautiful when contrasted with the yellow late-fall tree. But here’s a photo of Jasper I took earlier this year for your own mountain-therapy needs.

Cal Expo Cape Breton Pyramid Outlook 036

Oh, and yes, I fully intend to write about playing a Holy Paladin in 5.4, though by the time I get around to it, we’ll probably be in 6.0.

I Went All The Way to PAX and Came Back With Many Warm Fuzzies

September 3, 2013

Last Thursday, I found myself, all alone, at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac for intimate friends) fighting with a transit pass dispenser machine who wouldn’t take my Canadian credit card.

The stupid transit pass dispenser machine forced me to run all over the airport to track down a (ridiculously overcharging) ATM machine to get American money to put in the slot so a ticket will come out so I can take the train and get to PAX.

OMG PAX!

Transit pass dispenser machine suddenly forgotten.

Hi Seattle!

Hi Seattle!

I ended up at PAX almost by accident. I hadn’t seriously planned on going, but a friend and I were talking about it one night. The next day, mere HOURS later, someone mentioned on Facebook that PAX tickets were up for grabs. Not only was it RIGHT after our conversation, but I also happened to have the day off work and be within viscinity of a computer. “It must be a sign!” I exclaimed. Half jokingly, I queued.

2 hours later, I had tickets for Friday through Sunday.

My friend did not go to PAX.

It’s Not Too Dangerous To Go Alone

(Well deserved plug for Kenna of Geek Portland and the ladies of todays panel – which I wished I could have attended – on finding the courage to start your own projects in the gaming world.)

This was my second solo-convention. I have this friend on Facebook (We’re not exactly friends since we never talk. I mean NEVER talk. We were both at PAX. We did not talk. But she’s cool and geeky and fun so I like reading her.) who shares every article/post/paper ever written on women being mistreated at cons. I wouldn’t say it makes me nervous… I’m a badass paladin. I eat pervy little boys for breakfast. But, you know, it makes me…curious?

My first solo-convention was this year’s Calgary Expo and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I shrugged off the friendliness to being a Canadian convention. My second solo-convention was this PAX, which was not a Canadian convention. But it was also one of the best experiences in my life.

welcomehome

“Gamer culture” gets a lot of criticism (and, sadly, rightfully so), but the gamer culture at PAX was way closer to the first gamer culture I stumbled across over a decade ago, when the internet was young. A culture of “you’re not alone“, of “it’s okay to be yourself” and of “contrarily to what your parents tell you, video games do not rot your brain“.

I counted 6 panels on Gender Issues (plus two on Gaymers – three if you count Bioware’s unofficial panel), at least 3 on dealing with unsavory types (5 if you count the Community Management panels), one on Mental Health, and countless, COUNTLESS panels (and informal discussions!) on contributing at any level to the gaming industry and/or community.

Everywhere I went, there was no pushing, no fighting and a huge respect of personal space. (So much respect for personal space, OMG! At some panels, it was hard to tell where the line was!) All around me, I heard rich, interesting (and sometimes gently humourous) conversation. Sometimes I’d jump in. Me! Me who never talks to strangers! I had talk after talk with the most excellent, insightful and intriguing people. Honestly, I had no idea there was so much awesomeness in the world.

I’ll admit I was a little sad when I realized, after PAX, that a few people from Twitter met up, but it was my own fault for not asking around. But even at that, it’s not like I was deprived for social interaction!

PAX – There’s Gaming Here Too Right?

I’ll admit I didn’t try any games. I was too busy, running from panel to panel, dodging the (hugehugehuge) crowd, avoiding 10-nerd pileups (term borrowed from Calgary Expo 2013′s guidebook), working on my lifelong goal of LEARNING ALL THE THINGS.

I did, however, attend a few of Bioware’s panels on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and watched them play the game, which was amazing.

dragonage

DAI is coming out while I’m supposed to be on a cattle ranch in Australia with no computer/internet/free time, so I won’t be able to play it with everyone else, but I’m still excited. I’ve been drinking the news, line by line.

I love the attention to personal preference (seems like everything except Flemeth’s armour – panel inside joke -, for now, will be customizable, from character appearance to overall strategy to combat style), the size of the world (although it does mean that when I do get to play, I’ll have to book another year and a half off work so I can see everything) and that we can play Qunari. (Or Kossith, depending on how specific you like your terms.) While I’m probably a human (and mage) player through and through, I think having Qunari as a playable race will with be a big part of story depth. I absolutely love the Qunari. As a travel and anthropology lover, the Qunari and the culture shock surrounding them has done tons for my personal enjoyment.

On a sqeeing fangirl note, I got to meet Patrick Weekes (who wrote Garrus!!!!!) which was a huge highlight of my trip. (Also marked the first time I was actually able to say something to someone I really look up to.) I have to say that Bioware’s entire delegation was fantastic. They were warm, patient and kind, and it seemed like they were just as excited to be there as us fans were.

There were a few other games showcased that I wanted to try (hi SpyParty! I love you!) and the morning makeup sessions in the hostel bathroom with the excellent Phedran made me curious about Indie games. Indie games are, like, this entire world of gaming that I’ve always wanted to try, but I had no idea where to start. Now I think I will start with Rogue Legacy.

Has It Really Been 1000 Words Already?

I have to spare your eyes and stop writing, but, really, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of my time at PAX. I hope to find time to write again (famous last blog post words), but in either case, if you’re sitting at home feeling all sad and miserable about missing PAX… Know that you’re right. You really did miss out. /bigmeanie

Finding the Eye of the Storm

December 1, 2012

Yeah, sorry, no guide update yet. I try to save my writing energy for constructive stuff, but perhaps that’s my problem. Perhaps I need to write about less useful stuff to build up momentum.

Anyway, last time I posted I was sitting in a hotel in Moloka’i, stunned by my guild (the near-perfect guild I had been looking for all my gaming life, dammit!) breaking up. But, I’ve bathed in the WoW guild world for so long that my frustration was limited to a short lived disappointment. Guild breakups happen, they suck, but all you can do is move on. As far as I can tell, I’m still on good terms with every party involved, and I’d have plenty of potential homes to choose from, if the need came up.

The timing of the guild breakup, actually, ended up being pretty good. While, yes, it did happen as I was sitting in a hotel room in the middle of the pacific ocean, it also happened right before some stressful changes at my workplace.

Yes, I know that just about each of my posts can be summed up to “I’M SOOOOO STRESSED OMG OMG OMG”, but it’s my blog and I can write what I want.

I have no Hawaii pictures on this computer to distract from the wall of text, so here's a picture of a weekend trip to Banff

I have no Hawaii pictures on this computer to distract from the wall of text, so here’s a picture of a weekend trip to Banff

My life as a grown up

So. I’d consider myself to be rather well adjusted. I have a good job. I’m good at personal finances. I have diploma wall in my living room. I make friends easily. I’m happy about my life. I have a wide variety of interests. I have no hangups about my weight, my gender or what others think of me. Cherishing positive relationships and avoiding negative ones comes naturally.

Yet, when I look back at the last year and a half in my workplace, I want to slap myself.

I had a very toxic coworker.

The laziest, most selfish person you could imagine. A slob who left everything lying around. (I even suspect she used go out of her way to mix up my paperwork to make my life miserable.) A hoarder who’d use our work area as an extension of home, and crowd it with her food and personal belongings. A miserable person who’d randomly yell at others whenever she sensed the world not revolving around her (she even made a few customers cry). A control freak who’d make up bizarre rules for us to follow (but, of course, wouldn’t follow them herself). She’d refuse to learn the basics of her job (what I figured out on my own in 5-10 minutes, she still couldn’t grasp after countless explanations from me, and over 25 years on the job) and would just leave anything less-straightforward on the counter, in drawers or on the floor for me to first find, then puzzle out.

As a new grad, it didn’t occur to me that this wasn’t normal. In school they make you aware that you’ll be constantly juggling problems, that your short term memory will always be stretched to its breaking point, that the hours are hard and that work never ends. When I came home exhausted, stressed and sick to my stomach every day, I figured it was just inexperience. When I suffered a mini-burnout last April (after about 8 months on the job), I thought it was me not being strong enough. (After all, I do have tendency to crumble under pressure… I had my first minor burnout when I was 12 and have had several burnouts of varying intensities since.)

Eventually, the rest of the staff started complaining too, and head office began issuing warnings to this person. Corporations being what they are, it took a long, long, long time, but after a lot of me losing my temper on the phone, that person left the company around the same time as my plane from Hawaii touched ground.

I didn’t even make it home that day. I went straight from the airport to work. Remember, I was gone for 2 weeks. And this toxic person does not do anything. Which means that I had 2 weeks worth of problems, paperwork, mistakes, complaints and hoarding garbage to sort through.

As the stress of doing my regular job added to the stress of cleaning up 2 weeks worth of garbage (plus the 16 months of crap she’d been hiding in closets and cupboards – which amounted to about 3 large boxes of neglected paperwork), bubbles of anger kept surfacing. Anger at this person for taking advantage of me, anger for all the patients and customers who’d been neglected or treated badly by her, anger at being deprived of a “new grad learning” period, anger at the higher ups for not acting immediately.

And mostly angry at myself for not asking for help, for not exposing this person sooner.

I always try to be superwoman. My entire life I’ve been surrounded by overachievers. When things were overwhelming at work, I’d think to myself “Well, Jenni, or M-E would do this easily, I should be able to do this easily too.” Not realizing that Jenni or M-E would have been on the phone with the higher ups from day 1, reporting every incident, speaking their mind, standing up for themselves. Using every resource available until they were treated with at least basic respect.

I’ve been mostly on my own this week to fix all the damage that had been done by “Toxic”. I have a new colleague starting tomorrow and the rest of the staff has been trying to get into their normal groove. I did learn my lesson and have been calling my higher ups whenever I need help, and have been insisting until they give me what I need. But I’m exhausted. There are just mountains of papers and problems everywhere. And every time I feel better, I discover another hidden pile of horrors.

But beyond the work, it’s the anger that’s taking a toll on me. It keeps me up at night, it makes my insides hurt, it makes me snap at my staff and at my friends. I’m not worried, I bounce back easily, but, you know, even for me, healing takes a little while.

How this all ties back to WoW

I’m kind of glad I don’t have to concentrate on raiding with all this turmoil. I do miss raiding like crazy and want to yell obscenities on Twitter whenever friends talk about their raids. Yet, it’s good that I have this time to myself to recover and reorganize my emotions.

A group of my most recent guildies welcomed me to spend my guild transition time with them, which was tempting. Their alt runs would keep me up-to-date for future raids and I respect every player on that team. But as I sort through my fury and fumble toward the light, I felt the need for something different. I wanted old friends, I wanted family.

I sent an email to my good friend Vik (of Leetsauced fame), transfered my character over to Nerzhul and within a couple of hours, carried the Conquest guild tag once again.

It was such a warm feeling. I wasn’t expecting anyone to remember me, but to my greatest surprise, there was a lot of cheering and fanfare when I logged in during one of their raids. I had been having a rough day, and they just turned it around. It felt like I was finally home.

I’ve been sneaking into their Mumble and just quietly hanging out, which is more than enough for me. I’m also happily on the same server as Team Sport, another guild of dear friends, so whenever I escape the stress of work I log into the game and feel blessed.

It’ll be short lived – I miss raiding too much too stick around for too long (and Conquest’s raid schedule isn’t compatible with my work schedule), but in the meanwhile it is reminiscent of when I was going to school in Newfoundland and would visit my friends and family in Québec city for two weeks over the holidays.

I’m visiting old, dear friends for the holidays.

Wrapping up Cataclysm

September 22, 2012

Not long now!

I’ve procrastinated tons and now I’m stuck with a long long to-do list:

- Collect 24 dailies to turn in
- Tune up my ret gear to make leveling faster
- Pre-order MoP
- Install MoP on my desktop and laptop
- Fix my laptop’s WoW UI

I think the only thing I’ve done so far is prepare enough food for me to not have to cook at all next week. (Why am I not surprised that food was my top priority?)

How do you measure an expansion?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

-”Seasons of Love” Rent

So many bloggers do their expansion recaps and it’s interesting to see who uses what as their expansion milestones. Some measure their expansions in class changes, some in game changes, some in tiers.

Me, when I think back on Cataclysm, the first thing that comes to mind is my guild chronology. I suppose then, that I follow the song and measure my expansion in love. Erm.

The Beginning of Cataclysm

Shortly before Cataclysm, the GM of my guild at the time asked me: “What are your plans? Are you staying with us? Will you still be playing your pally?”

I told him his questions were silly. I’d been happy in that guild for over a year. There’s no way I expected my feelings to turn very sour, very fast.

But they did, for a list of reasons too long for me to write out. So long, in fact, that I’m pretty sure I don’t even know all the whys to my change of heart.

I left, was devastated, held my ground, tried not to make an ass of myself (I slipped a few times), licked my wounds, checked out different raiding styles, got to know my inner-raider better, moved on, became a more grown up person.

More or less in that order.

I made up a lot of excuses for my not throwing much of a hissy fit. Mostly noble bullshit like how “I’m not like that” and “I’m going to be the bigger person” and “I learned my lesson last time”.

Yeah, that’s right! Bullshit!

The main reason I restricted my hard feelings to private conversations and comments on other blogs was because I didn’t want to burn my bridges.

Yep. Just in case I could be “just friends” with my ex guildies later on. It’s been a good plan so far. Since leaving the guild I’ve had good times with them at Blizzcon, in PuGs and occasional real life meetups. I’m proud to say I have the best ex-guildies in the world. So yeah, my advice to anyone grieving after a /gquit: never ruin the potential for perfectly good friendships down the road.

Those friendships might be a worth a lot more than your passing frustrations.

What else happened the beginning?

I remember there being a lot of bosses in three (four?) different dungeons. I liked that. On the progression race, having a lot of bosses clearly favoured guilds who raid more hours, but on the “I get bored of the same thing real fast” race, it was very satisfying. We didn’t have to start with the same boss every raid, or even the same dungeon. I like variety and I was served.

I remember the heroic 5s instances being a bit more challenging than we were used to. I liked that too. I didn’t find them particularly hard, even in PuGs, (maybe us holy pallies were just OP at the time), but they did force me to use all my spells, my teamwork skills and my favorite muscle, my brain.

Speaking of pallies and spells, the beginning of Cataclysm brought us Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance. Stirred us up a bit, after single-target healing for so long. I found we were still the most ideal single-target healers, but at least the addition of multi-target heals gave us the opportunity to take single-target healing vacations and try something new.

Then the middle of Cataclysm

I gave casual raiding a whirl. At the same time, I gave 10s raiding a try. Not that 10s are necessarily casual (apparently you get things thrown at your face, even through the computer screen, when you say offensive, sizist things like 10s = casual), this just happened to be a more laid back group who also did smaller sized raids.

My teammates were tons of fun (I do mean to crash their Mumble parties sometime in the near future!) but I learned pretty quickly that casual raiding is not for me. When I do something, I do it all the way. And while my pathological attachments to guilds may lead to believe otherwise, I’m not really a social person. Raid time is for raiding. Not telling stories, not waiting for people to log on, not reforging gear (unless there’s a strat change) and certainly not for going to the bathroom. I raided with them for about a year, but after some soul searching and a few entertaining (for everyone else) yelling matches between me and the main tank, I decided to be “just friends” with that guild too and move on to a more compatible team.

This is a good place to plug thoughts on 10s and 25s

Opinions on 10s vs 25s and on “the death of 25s raiding” never cease to be shared.

To me, it’s a personal thing. I’m a 25s raider. I like the occasional 10s as a side-raid to get to know my guildies (and more importantly, to get to know what my guildies are like when they’re drunk), but my little raider heart needs the beat of 24 teammates. I gave 10s a fair shot with Team Sport, but I missed having a large healing team, I missed being a single link in the chain, I missed the complex strategizing, I missed the large-scale wack-a-mole of 25s healing.

It’s not about what’s “harder” (I’ve found difficulty to depend more on who my teammates are rather than on my number of teammates), though I did wish 10s and 25s were treated like separate entities within the game. After all, the style of raiding is so different.

On those epeen sites, you can see the decline of number of 25s guilds. On recruitment forums, you can, however, see that there are plenty of 25s guilds. More guilds, in fact, then actual raiders. 25s raiding is not dead. Yet. Maybe one day Blizzard will decide that having a 25s tuning isn’t cost effective. I’ll totally understand and not be angry. However, I suspect that I’ll also stop playing WoW on that day.

What else happened in the Middle?

Heroic Ragnaros was a badass and gave lots of players nervous breakdowns. But not me. I was in a normal mode guild when the content was relevant. And when it stopped being relevant, I couldn’t really find the motivation to do extra hours when I could be doing so much fun stuff IRL.

There was a lot of questioning as to why Heroic Ragnaros was so much harder than final boss Heroic Madness. I question this questioning. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Heroic Madness is accessible to any somewhat disciplined raid team. Thus, for the first time, many, many players were able to end their expansion with a satisfying “I killed the last boss! On Heroic!”. And customer satisfaction is an important goal for a business, no?

I think it was a smart strategy to make the bragging rights boss (HRaggy) different than the satisfaction boss (HMaddy).

Also in Firelands, there was a lot of anger (and in my case, annoyance) when Blizzard decided to nerf Fireland by 20% in one go. I didn’t understand that one. The nerfs were supposed to accomodate guilds like the one I was in: normal mode with a slow and steady progression. Thing was, we were progressing just fine. We weren’t sick of the instance yet, we had to work for our kills but we weren’t discouraged either. Then Blizzard came in, yanked out the carpet, took away the discipline requirements for the bosses. We didn’t progress much faster after the nerfs, really. Once you take away the discipline requirements for a normal mode guild, you take away the discipline. Instead of killing bosses faster, we just goofed off more.

In the End of Cataclysm

When I left Team Sport, I went guild shopping which was scary and hard work. (I do have a post about it, but I never got around to finishing it. Post writing is also hard work.)

I did, in the end, find myself a home. I love my raidmates, I love the leadership, I love the raiding, I love my healing team, I love my fellow holy pally. They do tend to raid a tad early (I spend the beginning of my raids changing out of my work pants, stuffing my mouth full of food and trying to not to autorun into mobs), but otherwise I’m very happy.

I hope MoP does not have the same effect Cataclysm did.

ps. Important! If you are guild shopping and suspect your raiding interests to be similar to mine, I encourage you to check us out at http://www.occasional-excellence.com/ We still have a couple of open spots for MoP!

What else is at the End of Cataclysm?

Dragon Soul brought us LFR. I liked LFR. Early on, spending an extra night running it was tough, but I did like having it available if I missed a raid. It also made gearing up for my guild change much easier.

While, yes, the fights were stupidly easy and your LFRmates stupidly…stupid, I really didn’t mind LFR and I was glad to have that opportunity.

Dragon Soul wasn’t a well loved instance, and I do agree it lacked the epicness of Karahzhan, Ulduar and even Icecrown Citadel or the creativity of Zul’Aman (the original) and Black Temple. I didn’t hate it, though. I don’t think it would be my first pick for a final dungeon, but it had a few good moments. Notably the gamergasms Ultraxion’s Blue Crystal gave me time and time again, until Ultraxion started dying before the crystal came out (damn Ultraxion that minute-man!).

Of Blogging and Podcasting

I do miss blogging. I miss the excitement of watching my stat page, the amusement from reading search engine terms, the delight of discovering new comments and the satisfaction of publishing a Bossy Pally-approved post. And, most of all, I miss the friendships.

But at the same time, I don’t expect a sudden increase in post count. I’ve been having a lot of fun in the offline world – now that I’m no longer a student I’m finally living the life I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Between living it up and working a demanding job, I’m just too tired to be coherent. It’s a good thing, mostly, it just means that the blog will most likely keep its current posting rate and its current reader count of approximately 3.

I feel like I’ve grown away from the community too. I still subscribe to a lot of blogs, but it seems that everything I read triggers one of 3 reactions:

1) I’m not interested
2) I’m interested and I’m thinking about it, but I don’t have the energy to write a response
3) I want to throttle the writer and scream at them: “OMG HAVE YOU EVER EVEN LEFT YOUR HOUSE BEFORE!?!?”

I suppose that’s how life goes. You grow closer to some groups and away from others. I do plan to keep the blog somewhat alive, I’m not deleting the personal blog either (it may even get some extra attention in a couple of months when my big big big project/dream comes closer to fruition) and I’ve told Oestrus that I’m not against recording the odd episode of the Double O Podcast.

I think a post-MoP grind episode might be a good follow up to our pre-MoP episode. And who knows, maybe a reader/listener will suggest a topic they’d like to us discuss and we’ll be overcome with inspiration… It could happen!

For the Undergrads Fans – Followup to the Calgary Convention

May 15, 2012

Yeah, that’s right, I’m going to not talk about WoW again on my WoW blog. Hey, it’s my blog and I can write about whatever I want.

I’m also a bit behind the times on this post (I swear I’ve been working on these short lines for over a week now…the ol’brain just ain’t what it used to be) but I wanted to share a couple of links with my fellow Undergrads fans, and I want to show my support for a potential season 2, should all the stars align.

I swear I am borrowing this picture for a good cause!

So, remember last post about the Calgary Expo? Where I excitedly attended a panel by the writers of the college student and/or former college student must-see show, Undergrads?

And remember how I mentioned that it was a 10 year old show (actually, I suspect it’s a little older than 10 years, since I remember watching the French version of the show in high school, and I graduated in 2001), it aired for one season then got cancelled? And how the panel made a big splash at the Calgary Expo, with all of us fans discovering we are not alone.

The excitement went on after the Expo, even among fans who hadn’t been able to attend the convention, and all the buzz resulted in this portal website (which, I believe, was made by the show writers themselves). That’s right!

- You can catch the videos of Saturday’s panel (here, here and here - and don’t worry about there not being any footage from Sunday’s panel, both days ended up being almost identical. Funny how fans always ask the same questions.)!

- You can join the Undergrad’s Facebook Groupville (group that is actually admined by Williams, Cagan and Rheingold!)

- And! You can check out photos from the Expo on their Flickr page!

I challenge you to find me in the Facebook group!

Later, guy!

Treasured Memories from the Calgary Expo

May 1, 2012

It was touch and go there for awhile. Will I go? Will I not go? Calgary is quite far and with the tension sky high at work, I didn’t dare ask to adjust the schedule. But I did have Sunday and Monday off. Turned out the boy had those days off too. I asked him if he wanted to come to the Expo with me. He said sure. And thus we found ourselves arriving in Calgary early Sunday morning, tired from the long drive but excited to get our geek on. (It’s times like that I wish I lived within reasonable distance of an airport. My life would be 100% more time efficient if I could just fly places.)

Calgary Expo-what?

What a time was had! The guest lineup was intense. The entire main cast of Star Trek TNG reunited. Stan Lee. Billy West. Adam West. James Marsters. Dave Prowse (also known as Darth Vader). Adam Baldwin. Commander Sheppard Mark Meer. And those were just some of the super famous people present. Yet, for some reason, convention organizers were surprised when more than 50 000 fans from all over the world showed up.

On Saturday, convention goers discovered why most other major conventions have limited tickets. The inside of the convention centre was packed like a Tokyo subway car at rush hour (considering that a lot of geeks get nervous in crowds, I can only imagine how much panicking must have occurred that day) and the outside grounds, crawling with those who’d been locked out, were overrun. Going on Sunday ended up being the best idea ever.

We got there early in the morning and I had pre-bought and printed tickets for the two of us, like the wise convention goer that I am. We had a last minute addition to our party who didn’t have a ticket but, fortunately for her, I was at a pub crawl in Winnipeg about this time last year.

That’s right. While getting drunk in Winnipeg last year I befriended a fellow backpacker. A backpacker from Calgary. Who happened to text me on the way to the Expo, asking if I needed an extra ticket. After I pulled some sophisticated lineup strategy maneuvers, my Calgarian friend found us just as we were reaching the front of the line. We yanked him in, I paid for the ticket and, yep, all 4 of us got our passes. The moral of this story? Never turn down a pub crawl.

The WoW Crowd

The WoW community meetups are often the best part of these big conventions. Vidyala and Vosskah hosted a potluck on Friday night (I couldn’t go, unfortunately, since, well, I was at work 7 hours away) which I heard great things about. I did, however, make it to the supper on Sunday. The early planning went kind of like this:

Vid: Oh you’re coming! We should go for supper!
Me: We should! Can I invite people?
Vid: Um, ok.

A few days later, Vid, Voss, Darthregis, Chawajen, Kalesti, Rades, the Fannon family and the Bossy Pally party found ourselves seated at the downtown Milestones sharing Expo stories, WoW stories and housecleaning stories. Also drowned a donkey and a mermaid in Peach Bellinis. The night was too short, too short, too short. I could spend an entire week with these guys and still want to be around them.

I say I start planning my own conventions, just to draw out awesome WoW friends.

Undergrads

Unlike the rest of my party, I planned ahead. I printed out the panel schedule, studied it, rated the panels based on my interest in them and came up with a plan. One panel title was “How to just barely survive as a Hollywood writer“. It caught my eye. I’ve no ambitions to become any sort of pro writer (if I got offered a paid writing position, I’d turn it down). But while my personal goals aren’t in the field, I love reading or hearing about writers. Oddly, I kind of relate to writers.

So I read the description. Andy Rheingold, Josh A Cagan and Pete Williams. Pete Williams sounded vaguely familiar…

I got to the next line: Undergrads.

OMG Undergrads!!

How many hours did my friend Val and I spend in high school expressing our appreciation for Gimpy? How many times did my brothers and I make each other laugh with Cal imitations? How many family nights did I spend with my siblings, watching Undergrads reruns on Teletoon? How many friends did I force to watch introduce to the show? How many flashbacks have I gotten of Rocko reading Cosmo and saying “I think we’re all feeling a bit… *flips pages* premenstrual“?

I sat up-straight throughout the whole panel, drinking in every word. I squealed when Pete Williams did a Cal line (he sounded way better than my brothers and I ever did due to, you know, being Cal’s actual voice actor). I really, really, really wanted to run up to them after the panel and give them a hug.

Undergrads was one of the rare shows that played a huge part in my young adult life and I never in a millions years expected to meet the writers. Especially not in Calgary, 10 years after the show was cancelled (after 13 episodes). And if the experience was surreal to me, it seemed to be surreal to them too. They made my day when they said (I think it was Josh who said it, but I’m not sure) “It’s like we’re in Sliders, in a parallel universe where people have actually heard of our show.

Of course, they were bombarded with questions about the eventuality of a season 2. It sounded like they were absolutely ready for season 2 but the usual red tape (show rights and financing) was holding them back. But the attachment they showed toward their show, even 10 years after being forced to move on, made me very happy. It was wonderful to be sitting in that room with about 30-40 other fans (another upside to Sunday! Saturday’s panel apparently packed 250 people in the room and turned 100 away. Much less intimate.) and the 3 main writers, sharing our love of Undergrads.

If only I hadn’t been too shy to go to their booth afterward and talk to them…

Video Game Voice Acting with Mark Meer and Quinton Flynn

Do you know who else is awesome, besides writers? Voice actors. They’re the stars you never get to see, who you don’t often think of. In fact, if the better job they do, the less you recognize them. They don’t get the screaming fans and the big bucks. But when you do meet them in person, you’re quickly smitten, so much their passion and talent is captivating.

Mark Meer, I was familiar with. I’m playing a lot of Mass Effect these days. I didn’t, however, realize he lives and works really close to me and that I could go see him act all the time. Which I totally plan to. He’s hilarious. You know else who is awesome, besides writers and voice actors? Improv actors.

I didn’t know the name of Quinton Flynn, but the second he started talking and doing impersonations…oh yeah! As my friend Skip puts it, Flynn is “one of those 12 voice actors who are in everything“. It was just incredible to listen to him. From his normal speaking voice, you wouldn’t guess that he was a voice actor, but the second he slips into a character…wow! Suddenly you’re sitting in front of Timon (I totally watched Timon & Pumbaa as a kid!) or Raiden or Axel or Johnny Quest.

In was interesting having them give the panel side by side since they both have very different careers. Meer does a lot of impov and theatre acting, as well as consultation work on designing voices, while Flynn has been voice acting for cartoons and video games since I was a kid, and has a lifetime of experience. They had different elements to bring to the table and it made for a very enriching panel. But like all panels, it was way too short.

And again, I wish I had had the guts to go up to their booths after and ask for an autograph and a hug.

Moments of Awesome

Vid called me while I was hanging out by some booths. “Can you pick up Volumes 1&2 of Questionable Content for me? I didn’t think to get extras for my brother.

“Sure!” I said.

I was familiar with the name. But not being a fan of webcomics, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. A few moments later, I’m standing in front of Jeph Jacques (I totally interrupted his lunch too), knowing that I’m in the presence of someone amazing, but not knowing exactly the extent. He was super nice to me, autographed the books while I felt like a total poser.

I flipped through the books a bit before I turned them over to Vid. Definitely looked like something I’d enjoy. I was half tempted to keep them…

I’m now hooked. Questionable Content has a new fan. And that’s what conventions are all about.

Asked Vid and Rades if From Draenor with Love was going to have a booth next year. Conventions are about that too.

As the day was drawing to a close, a girl, maybe a few years younger than me, walked by, excitedly yelling on her cell phone: “I got hugged by the voice of Axel! You know! The voice of Axel! He gave me a hug!

Conventions are definitely all about that.

Not necessarily about getting hugs (since I was too shy to ask for any), but about getting excited with other people, notably strangers and celebrities, about things you’re not usually allowed to be excited about in public. I can’t wait until next time!

Remember that one time I BUILT A COMPUTER? – Part 3

January 26, 2012

Part 3, otherwise known as The Neurotic Pally and the Evil Windows. If you want to get caught up on the earlier parts, the beginning of the story is here and the middle of the story is here.

Software; or How I discovered that I prefer Hard Things

I’m out of pictures, so I’m going to recycle the “Computer is complete and running” photo.

Pretend you haven't seen this before.

Last post we ended with me powering up my computer for the first time, after a smooth hardware assembly process. I’m the queen of hard.

What you want to do as you power up your computer for the first time is access your BIOS. To access your BIOS, you hit “delete” shortly after you turn the computer on.

I give it a try.

I hit “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I restart my computer.

I hit “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I restart my computer.

I hit “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I’m freaking out here. Panicking, crying, threatening to throw my computer through the wall. I turn to Twitter and 5-6 people scramble to find a solution to my problem.

They link me tech support thread after tech support thread. They share their own computer building problems history. They do everything they can to lend me some insight into what’s going wrong.

It took about an hour of ripping my hair out (hey, I promised hair-pulling drama!) to find the solution. In the end, I found it on my own. Not because I was smart, but rather because of the opposite. No one else thought of the solution because they overestimated me.

Curious?

As I was browsing through a tech support thread (that I pulled up on my own), I came across this: “I’ve tried everything,” the poster wrote, “delete, F12, even escape…

Escape.

DAMMIT.

ALL THIS TIME I WAS PRESSING ESCAPE INSTEAD OF DELETE.

I blame it on the long day (or if you want some encouragement: if someone who confuses “delete” with “escape” can build a computer, you can build a computer too. If you don’t get the joke, you forgot to read part 1).

More Problems with Going Soft

The next step is installing Windows. I set my BIOS to boot from CD, I pull out my Pirated copy of Windows, plop it in the CD drive, restart my computer. And nothing happens.

Off to Twitter I go.

Fannon gives me a call. “When using a Pirated copy, you need to make an ISO image you can boot from. Copy it onto a DVD and use that as your boot disk.”

I own no blank DVD. It’s 8:45pm. Walmart closes at 9pm. I can totally do this.

I get home with my blank DVDs (after getting pulled over by a cop… he must have sensed I was about to engage in illegal computer activity). I do the disk copying. It doesn’t work. Fannon calls again. After a 50$ conversation (I have a pay-as-you-go phone. Long distance calls are about 6$ a minute), we come to the conclusion that illegal software isn’t for me and that I should go out and buy Real Windows.

Walmart opens again at 9 am. I’m there, ready to purchase my Real Windows.

I plop Real Windows in the CD drive and it all works brilliantly. I’m overjoyed.

Until Windows couldn’t find my hard drive.

Stupid Windows. My hard drive is RIGHT THERE. You know, like, right under my CD/DVD drive. How can you miss it?

I try to fix it on my own. First, I look in the Windows manual.

Have you ever looked in the Windows manual? One would THINK that most of it would be about “How to install Windows“. And it would include a section on “How to install Windows when Windows doesn’t want to be installed“. And it might also have a section about “What to do when Windows is about to cause you to throw your brand new computer out the Window, then rip off all your clothes and run out onto the street screaming.

But noooooooooo. The Windows manual is all about “Windows is wonderful and lovely. Look at all these happy families sitting together, looking at Windows 7 and its heartwarming new features.”

It’s frustrating that there are so little options when it comes to operating systems. Rich non-gamers can use Mac systems. Programming geeks can use Linux. And for the rest of us, there’s Windows. Windows, which kind of does what it wants, when it wants.

It was someone on Twitter (I can’t remember who for the life of me, which I’m hugely apologetic for because I probably owe them my life) who found the answer for me. I had to do this “part disk” command to make a partition on my hard drive. Now, WHY that’s not in the Windows manual or on the Windows website, I have no stupid idea. But, yeah, “part disk”.

After that, Windows booted up just fine.

No, wait, I lie. Windows found my hard drive, but refused to do anything with my hard drive. I solemnly make my way to the closet and close my hand around the hammer hilt. Thankfully, at that moment, Vosskah calls me on Skype.

Vosskah: Take a deep breath, it’s ok, lets go through it together.
Me: *sob* Ok.
Vosskah: Let start over from the beginning so I know exactly what you’re doing at each step. I don’t want you to feel like I’m underestimating your-
Me: You realize you’re talking to someone who mistook “escape” for “delete” right?
Vosskah: … It, um, happens, now lets take it from the beginning.

Obviously, AS SOON AS I’M ON THE PHONE WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP, Windows works just fine. It installs itself, I can use my computer, I download SWTOR (yay!) and I redo my WOW UI.

Don’t Worry, The Soft Tails Tales Go On

I bet you thought I was home free, you did you did you did!

I did too. Until I turned my computer off for the first time. Ok, no, that’s not true. It turned off just fine. Turning it ON again…

Apparently Windows lost my hard drive again. Desperately wanted to boot from the Windows CD. No matter what I did to my BIOS, it wanted its CD like a baby wants its mommy. Yet, when I gave it what it wanted, it tried to install Windows again.

Install Windows again, AFTER I spend 2 days downloading SWTOR and getting WoW ready?

I think not.

As usual, I turn to Twitter. “Very weird,” the experts tell me.

Some suggest disconnecting my CD/DVD drive, other recommend fiddling with my harddrive connection.

My dad was a computer geek and computer destroyer. After watching him wreck several machines in attempts to “fix them”, I learned that the solution rarely involves disrupting sleeping wires. Deep in my soul, I knew my CD/DVD drive AND my hard drive were fine. Google led me to believe that it was a partition priority problem. However, I did not know what partition priority was, or how to fix it. My thoughts returned to the hammer in the closet.

Before I could destroy my property, it was time for work. I turned off my computer again, and marched out the door.

The End

When I came home from work that day, I tried turning my computer on again. And Windows loaded normally. As if it hadn’t taunted me to destroy it earlier.

I then realized that my computer was male. Because when an inanimate object gives you grief and seems to do what it wants, when it wants, it is a sign. A sign that said object is of the opposing gender.

I don’t usually name things, but I’m thinking of “Joel”. It’s a guy, so it needs a guy name. My latest infatuation is JL – Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire (most of the crushes I’ve had in my life have been on fictional characters. Fake people are so much more alluring than real ones). JL sounds a little like Joel. So Joel it is. Even if my internet connection thinks the computer is named Eloise, after my WoW mage.

Epilogue

I never got my computer bug free. It still refuses to load sometimes.

But, you know, when it happens, Joel and I sit down and have a talk about our feelings. Usually, all he’s asking for is to be turned off, to be allowed a minute to prepare himself to be turned on again. And I’m ok with that. Our relationship. It isn’t perfect, but it works. I listen to him, and in return he lets me run WoW and SWTOR with the settings on ultra.

I’d say our relationship is pretty healthy, would you not?


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