Archive for the ‘Beyond WoW’ category

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.


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.


“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.


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 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.


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.


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…




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.


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?