A rational response to an insane situation

Okay, so first the Governor of South Carolina is all over the news in what has to be the most publicized case of epic fail I’ve ever seen.  And yes, even above the Governor of Illinois. Or is that former Gov of Illinois? So many scandals, so little time.

Anyway, the media is all over this flaming jackass and his pile of epic fail, and bravo to them I say.

Man, I love seeing it shoved up his ass. Sideways. I forgive the media on this one. Go get ’em.

But wait, there’s more!

Farrah Fawcett is dead. Farrah Fawcett-Majors, for us oldtimers.

She’ll always be Buck Roger’s ex-wife to me.

And this is on the heels of the legendary Ed McMahon’s death, so we’re reeling in the media… what drama to cover? We’re only given so much time to mourn before the news is stale, so who to cover?

Before we even get a chance to absorb this, BOOM!

Mr. Michael Jackson is dead…

I could make a rude comment, but quite frankly he is beloved by many people, and all I’ll ever know about him is what the media has said, so who the heck am I to know what’s been up with him? 

With all of this, you’d think the media has a lot to discuss.

“But wait!” I hear you cry, “This is all tabloid bullshit, what about the very real, very intense struggle going on in Iran at this very moment, as a people who believe in the freedom of a democratic vote protest in the streets against what they feel is an unjust election… and they are being beaten and killed in the streets, every effort made to stop their protests, to silence them, to shut them down, and to close off all forms of communication in and out of the country so that the world may never know.”

“What about all of that?!?!”

“Isn’t that possibly enough for the media to talk about for one freaking day?”

No.

Oh how I wish it was, but no.

Because everywhere you turn, there is one other topic that somehow is under discussion.

Jon and f’ing Kate plus Eight.

/cry.

O. M. G.

/facepalm.

I can’t deal with it. He’s a sack of shit. His only job was to be a dad. That’s it. His career was to be a good, loving father to eight children, and a supportive and loving husband.

The quotes roll out, the drama rolls out, and I can’t deal with it. I’ve turned off every possible news agency I know to block out any more of this.

I’ve got my fingers stuck in my virtual ears. Somebody whisper me when this shitstorm of mediocrity and selfishness and worthless crap is OVER!

Tell me when the flaming bus runs over those two pricks, the kids get placed in kind and loving foster homes (Hey, I can dream… and the clouds in my dream are pink and fluffy, too.)

Just tell me when they are gone. When the world has moved on. And the words Jon and Kate plus 8 are no longer uttered.

Please.

Until that time, as I sing “lalalalala” to myself to shut out the madness, I shall respond in the only way I know how.

MUSIC MIX MADNESS!!!!!

It is now time for me to fix a mix to restore equilibrium.

And I’m dragging you poor bastards (and fine ladies) along for the ride.

First, to mellow out. To try and prepare. Gotta get in the right mindset to flip a halfhearted finger at the world.

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Thank you very much. Swap “Prozac” with “Beer”, and that’s about right.

Now, to my friends amongst the US Marines, the next singer should be quite familiar to you. If you don’t know “Goodnight Saigon”, then shame on you. 

But that’s not this song. Oh no, to get this twisted party going, we gotta have something a little more appropriate.

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Okay, that’s a good start.

Yes, yes I’ll include Goodnight Saigon. This is my party, and while it’s wildly inappropriate to put it here, what the heck.

Did you think I wouldn’t?

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Okay, that’s pretty awesome. I can almost feel the stupidity draining away.

Now to take it towards a faster edge… let’s go with some Blue Oyster Cult. Moar cowbell, damnit!

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Is nice?

Da, is nice.

Wow, that does wonders for my equilibrium.

But wait.

I am da Bear. I must have something at a right angle to normal reality to remind myself where I live… on the edge of “What the hell was that?!?!”

I gots just da thing…

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Ah yes…. okay, just about there…

Now to bring it on home… a capper of a song that always helps to relax me, a great song to sit back, pop a beer to, and tune out the rest of the world as you drift in fond memories of times both good and bad…

A nice little song that may mean something entirely different for someone else, but for me reminds me that what goes around, comes around, shit happens, and karma can be a stone bitch.

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Ahhh…. peace out.

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How's your enthusiasm level?

So, folks… how enthusiastic are you about WoW these days?

Think back to when you started to play WoW, whether that be a month ago or four years or what have you.

Now, compare that with how you feel today. 🙂

I’m not talking about patch worry, or summer slump, or issues over time spent playing the game that could be better spent on family activities.

I’m simply talking about how you feel about playing the game now, and whether you feel that your enthusiasm for playing has grown, lessened, or stayed about the same since you began.

The game came out in November of 2004, and inevitably people change over time. There have been massive content additions, class changes, and massive adjustments to the frame of the game.

It wasn’t that long ago that the very idea of a PvE player on a PvE realm server transfering directly to a PvP server would be met with mass hysteria.

That level of hysteria was, in some ways, a good thing, because it showed that people were vocally passionate about the game and willing to share their opinions loud and proud.

They cared enough about the game to make an effort, whether you agreed with them or not.

Now, I’m NOT saying the passion is gone. I think it entirely reasonable to believe that, over the course of time, people have gone from the rabid, passionate announcing of love for Warcraft to a mellower, more gentle, deeper love for the game and it’s depth.

It’s one of those things, a new love is a love that burns bright and hot with a consuming flame, and you can find yourself talking about it to everyone you meet.

But as time passes, the love can either grow deeper and stronger, and more comfortable, and the need to talk about it all the time lessons…

Or the passion fades, things change, and the two drift apart and stay together out of habit rather than need. 

So, if you’ve been playing for a while, it’s something I wonder about. Are you still in love with Warcraft and feel the need to log in out of desire, or are you going through the motions out of long time habit, but could take it or leave it?

I’m not even going to talk about people that have lost their love for the game, but still play because they DO love the people in their guild.

This subject is relevant to me, because we’re past 4 years of the game being out there. I’ve been writing this blog for two years now, damn near half the life of the game itself, and it feels like a very short time to me.

I’ve been talking about WoW for half the time the game has been around.

It may not be true, but it feels as though a lot has changed in the way the public itself talks about the game, the coverage it gets in media, the way players talk about things, the whole experience.

Back in the first year, the world media was wandering around stunned that millions of people would come together to play a single video game. It was everywhere, and the shock of various closed-minded media types that think that video game player = socially retarded geek was plain to see.

These days, that sensation is over. Time has passed, the amazement is over.

We now face acceptance. Ho hum, the media says. Millions play. So what?

Most media outlets have moved on from their shock… perhaps because if there is anyone other than a politician that worries about pissing off a massive block of potential voters/consumers, it’s the media.

As far as blogging about the game, a lot has changed there as well.

As short a time as 2 years ago, a blog post about feral Druids letting folks know that you get 2 Attack Power from 1 point of Strength, but only 1 AP per point of Agility, and that in cat form only, would have been helpful. It would have been something new to learn for a lot of people. Simple little tips like that.

These days, the general questions that I get from most people are based around variations of 1% hit or less, and the fine tuning of threat rotations because someone wants to get more than 1600 dps while Bear tanking effectively. Rather than one best gear set for tanking, and definitive ranked items, you can have as many as four different types of items depending on your target instance/raid situation. 

It’s the same players, but with a ton more understanding and maturity about the game.

No more innocents in the game, perhaps.

Maybe I could put it better by saying that the mystery has vanished. We know what World of Warcraft looks like in daylight without any clothes on.

Some people are fine with that, and love the game even more for knowing all there is to know and being comfortable together. Others might have lost their excitement along with the mystery. They might feel they know the game too well.

When you blog, I really feel that you should blog out of enthusiasm and passion for your subject. The reason you keep coming back is because you feel there is something to say, that your thinking is on the subject and you keep coming back to it.

With so many folks that are moving on from blogging about WoW as the years pass, it’s easy to think that the reason is a lack of passion about the game.

Is that it? Do people blog when caught up in that early love and passion, and the drive to blog fades as the love mellows over time?

Are some bloggers still writing about and playing WoW, even though they have lost that lovin’ feeling, out of habit?

Has WoW still got it after all these years, or hs something vital been lost over the years of changes?

Is it as simple as saying that some people remain faithful to their one true love as long as that love is true to them, and others will always be looking for a new affair?

Is there maybe some small bit of mystery that we need, that as long as we are promised that there will always be something new and fresh coming down the road, we will continue on? 

Over four years, and Blizzcon tickets sell out in milliseconds. That alone says something, doesn’t it?

You know what the one thing I think is, when I wish for a change in the game?

I wish that Bind on Account Heirloom items could be mailed or shared to characters of the opposite faction.

That’s it. I wish that I could trick out a hordie lowbie with Heirloom leveling items like a gun, shoulders, trinkets and (someday) breastplate.

In fact, I’d like an entire set of gear from Heirloom items. And yes, I want it across faction.

Is that the desire of someone tired of the game? Or of someone that wants to see even more of what there is to see…. but is tired of playing the 1 – 58 item hunting game.

Something to think about, that’s all.

Things I think about when I log in, when people like Aurik leave blogging and the game behind, when I think about the lack of media attention to WoWthese days as compared to it’s heyday, etc etc.

I’m going to miss /Hug. But things change, people change, and sometimes folks recognize that they aren’t getting what they need anymore, and feel the desire to move on to something new.

Creative Writing: Expand your horizons!

When you’re going to do some creative storytelling, sometimes it can be good not to get too wrapped up in tweaking the fine details when a larger change could improve the whole thing.

Whether you’re writing a fictional story, a role playing game scenario or setting, or some fan fiction, it can be very easy to make assumptions, take certain aspects for granted, and settle for being creative ‘in the margins’ instead of taking the reins firmly in hand and making something your own unique vision.

“What the bloody heck is this idiot talking about?”, I hear you ask.

An example of someone whose creative work was so profound, it changed everything?

Back in the day, our lord and master Tolkien wrote a brilliant piece of fiction, including detailed histories of dwarves and orcs and elves and such.

His work was so detailed, it brought those races so vividly into life, that most folks that have written fantasy fiction afterwards have had to take that into account.

Many simply took those ideas and built them into their own work, lifting them as a whole and building uopn what has come to be lasting stereotypes in fantasy fiction.

You say ‘elf’ or ‘dwarf’ and the people listening have a pretty damn good idea what you’re talking about, without regards for Celtic, Germanic or Scandinavian folklore.

Okay, so you want to write something yourself. You don’t want to plagiarize others, and you want to have fun.

But elves and dwarves are cool.

What to do?

Well, one thing you can do is take a close look at those races (still using an example) and deconstruct them. Break it down and figure out what is an elf in your mind? What is a dwarf? Longevity? Gruffness? A long lived culture of hippy tree huggers at one with nature? A group of short perpetually pissed off badasses with battle axes? What?

Take a look at what it is that you love… and or what it is that you need a race or culture to fulfill in your vision… and build it up from there.

In the end, it becomes your vision, something that heart and soul you understand.

Far better than adding ‘elves’ to your story, and then tweaking them to fit.

Sometimes, though, you start with a well known story element whether you like it or not. You might not have the luxury of building your own. You have to use a setting or follow certain lore conventions… but that doesn’t mean you have to be a lemming and be too afraid of the integrity of the setting to change things. 

As an example, still using elves, in the game world which I have sometimes published play by email turns here, it all started with a Dungeons and Dragons game. I was forced from the start to incorporate Dwarves and Elves because the scenario I was writing was part of an ongoing campaign.

So there were elves right from the beginning, and I worked with it, using cultural differences among isolated tribes.

Nowadays, with the massive distance the project has from it’s roots, they are still elves in name, and they still share certain physical similarities… but they are not elves like Tolkein would have recognized. Not culturally, not by a long shot. And certainly not spiritually. 

Culturally, they more closely resemble the Roman Empire as an organizational structure, albeit with a tradition of working with and living in tune with nature, being aware of and respectful of the circle of life rather than working with stone or being expansionistic and rapacious such as the true Roman Empire. With their long lives and reduced birth rate promoting an isolationist and contemplative worldview, a love of learning and study, a strong understanding and realistic outlook at national defense against aggressors, and a deep tie to a living spirituality and an introspective nature, they have all the capability to be the deadliest force on the planet… but don’t have the desire or the will to impose themselves or their culture on others.

In the world of my creation, humans encountered elves for the first time when the first human empire, ruled by a former king that had united a land of rough feuding warlords rampant with casual brutality, chose to relieve the political pressures of his own land by focusing attention on expansion and conquest of the apparently empty and verdant lands to the north. He gathered together the majority of peoples that would have caused the most strife if left to their own devices in the various fiefdoms, and organizing them into massive armies, sent them across the channel to explore, pacify and colonize.

Unfortunately for him… the fields gave way to dense forest… and invading the forest drew the attention of a force beyond their wildest dreams. A force singularly lacking in humor when it comes to violent invading armies. They were not amused. <crunch>

The second human empire, once it got past a certain point, held certain… beliefs when it came to elves. Beliefs that have proven quite long lasting, and, depending on how much of your ancestor’s family tree survived… strongly held.

Chief among them, don’t fuck with elves.

It’s one aspect of how things can be different… it is a game world whose roots are in D&D, and yes there are elves… but scratch beneath the surface, and the similarities to widely known elves in popular literature are only skin deep.

There is a race in my world that does bear a closer spiritual resemblance to traditional elves. They are actually on a different continent entirely, have never been encountered (as far as I remember) by Manny or James, and are covered in fur. Heavy fur. Very heavy fur. When first being described, the person meeting them is not going to think “oh, an elf, I can guess how they might react.” Nope, instead, they might very well wonder if they’re about to become lunch.

Depending on the circumstances, that could be a valid concern.

Things need to fit together, cultures grow in certain ways for a reason (even if the reason is “I said so”, or “Because I like it that way”).

I’ll use a WoW related example of questioning the assumptions, and taking a step back to look at how things are when you are writing your stories.

We all love World of Warcraft. This blog is about Druids in the game. So let’s use the druid design as an example.

The Druid class rocks as is. There is a reason we love it and have played it for so long. Being able to shapechange into various animal forms is pretty amazing, and is an impressive programming feat on the part of the designers.

When the game was first developed, Blizzard had to make some serious choices about what they wanted to do, balanced against what they had the time and programming resources to develop and implement in time to go live.

What we have now is very similar to what went live. Two races, Tauren and Night Elf, one race per faction, can choose to be Druids.

Each race can shapechange into an aquatic form, a cat form, a bear form, a travel form, and later on the moonkin, tree and bird forms were added.

Since that time, we have happily played this class, no matter who we are, and one of the most common refrains heard is “I wish we had more attractive skins, or even slightly better models, so the graphics of our forms looked better”.

Now we are getting those models and skins, at least for cat and bear.

But we are still talking about tweaking and adjusting the given, without looking at the underlying framework.

Now, I love our class, and I wouldn’t want things to change at this point.

But, if I were designing the classes for my own story or for a role-playing setting, I would not have gone with what we have.

I’m not saying my choices would be any better, they just wouldn’t have been mine.

For example, Tauren are big, massive, strong and feel imposing; their presence carries a weight that dominates the world around them.

Night Elves are lithe, fast, nimble and fit in with and slip through the world around them.

For Druids of these races, Druids who would transform into animals, or the forms of animals, I would have kept to animals that evoked in some way their overall feel, as well as the geographical regions they are normally found, considering those to be the areas they are most familiar with, and thus the animals they would have the most comfort and experience with.

 I would of course have kept cats, panthers as a melee DPS form, very feral and powerful, coiled muscle and claw. For speed, honestly I probably would have gone with a deer, a gazelle, some other kind of fleet long limbed herbivore. Cheetah is cool, but doesn’t fit in with my mental image of the region. And for a form that would keep enemy attention and survive, I likely would have chosen a mongoose, super fast harrying attacks and insane agility to dodge.

For Tauren, on the other hand, in DPS I would have probably chosen a wolf, huge and beefy across the shoulders, like the creature from Brotherhood of the Wolf, and colored brown or tan. A hyena style form instead of a wolf would have worked as well. For travel, this is the one that would have the cheetah form, and for tanking, I would have been likely to go with a rhino.

Totally different thinking, and choices made because of my own taste for how they would fit in my mind onto the story. A certain internal consistency.

My end point is, never be afraid to challenge preconceived ideas or established wisdom, pick at things and dig into why. Why should it be that way, why would it work that way, why would they do it that way?

Make your stories your own, and have fun!

Just keep tanking, just keep tanking

What do we do, we tank, tank….

Okay, aside from channeling Dory, what am I on about this time?

I’ve been having fun, trying to balance my time between what I’ve done for years, Bear tanking, and what I’ve just started having fun with, Tree healing.

I love healing, simply from the fact that it is new. Totally new. Not new like “Oh look I’m playing a different class that does melee DPS”, or “Oh look I’m playing a different class that does ranged DPS”, but “Omigod the entire party lives or dies depending on my whim. I am like unto a god! Muahahahahahaaaa!”

*ahem*

Sorry about that.

So anyway, tanking fun with Bears, oh my!

I was recently asked to answer some questions by Sylly of Rolling Hots, about Bear tanking… Bear tanking and what a healer ought to know.

It’s just one of a series that Rolling Hots did, introducing healers to each of the tanking classes, in the words of those that do the tanking themselves. It’s a nice idea, and she did a great job with it. Very good read.

Along the way, answering questions made me think about how the cahnges to Swipe ahve changed how I tank sometimes when I’m having fun, things I really haven’t talked too much about here.

How silly of me. I have long gotten tired of telling people who are already experts at Bear tanking things they already know about Bear tanking. But this… this is fun stuff that people might not have thought about or tried just yet! Well, shoot, that right there is worthy of a blog post!

Although the novelty of me writing about Bear tanking may cause long time readers to go into terminal shock.

I’ll risk it. */shiftyeyes*

Okay, so, things you already know.

  • Swipe is instant cast based on Rage (and the global cooldown).
  • Swipe affects a 360 degree around the Bear.
  • The target of Swipe does not have to be physically in range for Swipe to activate, and Swipe still will hit those other targets that ARE within range.
  • Bears cannot Dodge targets behind them.
  • Bears can cast Swipe while moving.

So here’s where I relate my fun.

In Culling of Stratholme/Heroic CoS, you could say the instance has three phases. The first phase would be the 10 waves, the second phase would be the Dragonkin battles in the Inn, and the third phase would be keeping that young punk ass Arthas alive as you run flat out through undead pafter the Inn, before you reach the final confrontation with Mal’Ganis (or rescue the dragon fro Chromie if you’re speedy enough on heroic).

So phase three. You’ve got Arthas, and lots of undead scrubs, and some elite undead and cultists of various types. Arthas loves to run ahead, and the undead has a very fast respawn rate, making slowing down too much a pain.

The normal progression of pulling/fighting in phase three makes for predictable difficulties.

Normally, a tank pulls (or charges), or at the least walks forward to attack a mob. Then, the melee DPS and pets run behind the mob to attack unaffected by Dodge.

Well, thats normally just fine, but with the fast spawn and frequent pathing movement of the undead in CoS phase three, this often results in the melee DPS being seen and attacked by the undead.

This FREQUENTLY happens if you did things the normal way.

Obviously all tanks that do Culling of Stratholme have worked out ways to address this.

For myself, the way I’ve found that is the most fun is to do the same thing you do when tanking Grobbulus in Naxxramas; kite your mobs while walking or moving backwards, and keep Swipe up in your rotation.

This lets you see everyone in front of you, so if one slips by on the right or left, you can Growl them at range back in to you.

As you waddle backwards, you are naturally attracting the attention of all the mobs first. You’re the first thing they see, so your melee players aren’t getting bothered. Sure, your healer is kept hustling to keep up, which is not nice… but they don’t have to spend so much time panic healing the DPS.

Yes, as you waddle backwards you are tanking with your butt… but as you continue to move, you move past the mobs, and gather them in… in front of you, where Dodge DOES work. So your window of vulnerability without Dodge is limited per mob as you are moving. Once you stop, IF you stop, that’s the time to adjust to get ’em all in front of you.

It’s fun. I find I like tanking with my butt. 🙂

Than you again to Sylly for getting me back into thinking about blogging about Bear stuffs… it is fun. I should do it more often!

Happy Father's Day to the Bear!

I wanted to say a quick Happy Father’s Day and share a special story from our vacation last weekend (which seems so very long ago already) 😦

As you may have read, we took Alex to the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells.  It was a wonderful weekend!  Five days before we were scheduled to go, I got a confirmation email and a “looking forward to seeing you, check out these things while you’re here” newsletter.  In the middle of the busy newsletter, it detailed their plans to open a new interactive game/exploration center in July and then mentioned at the end “Wiley’s Woods will be closed during your stay in preparation for this.”   I was immediately NOT happy because Wiley’s is Great Wolf’s dry play center that is one of the things we were looking forward to Alex being able to do.  It was also one of the reason’s we chose the cheapest room to stay in.  We figured we’d either be in the water parks or Wiley’s and only in the room to sleep, so the extra $100+ for a Kids themed suite wasn’t going to be worth it.

I emailed the hotel and expressed my displeasure at having to tell a 6-year old that he couldn’t do the thing he had seen pictures on the website of and asked if there was any chance we could be upgraded to a kids suite (since I’d read in reviews that they frequently upgraded people anyway when capacity was low), so I’d have something to “sell” to him about how vacation was still really fun.    I got a call back the next day from one of the lead front desk people who explained that they didn’t have any of those suites available, but instead he was upgrading us to one of their condo units at no charge.   So instead of a hotel room with a king bed and sofa bed for Alex, we ended up in condo with full kitchen including granite counter tops and full appliances, kids themed bedroom that slept 3 (so Alex got to pick 2 different beds for the weekend), a master bedroom, huge bathroom, nice living room with 42″ plasma tv and gas fireplace, and a loft bedroom upstairs that came with a 1/2 bathroom (which was wonderful when you had 3 wet people wanting to change).  Yeah, mighty nice place to stay and has probably ruined all future hotel getaways since Alex now thinks this is the standard of vacation we should have 🙂

We had a wonderful time in the water parks.  Alex loved the kid slides and his absolute favorite was the wave pool.  He started out nervous about it by then was lying back in a tube while we helped steer him over the waves and by the end of the weekend was standing in the waves to body check them and punch them with his fists while yelling “got you wave!.”  🙂

But finally it was time to check out on Sunday morning.  We decided we’d hit the cub club and arcade after check out since we hadn’t got there during our stay.  So off to the arcade first.

(This is where my actual story comes in now)

Once we hit the arcade both BBB and Alex were in heaven.  BBB spotted Guitar Hero and found songs he doesn’t have on our games at home.  So you can imagine the 40-year old “rocker” playing in the middle of the kids arcade (I have a photo but in honor of Father’s Day, I will resist sharing it) 🙂

We all played some games for a bit, starting out with $5 in tokens that I grabbed from the machine.  We quickly finished that and BBB being a good daddy forked over $5 from his wallet this time to continue his…I mean, Alex’s fun.  He and Alex even played a game of air hockey together with Alex narrowly pulling off the game winning point and then jumping up and down and modestly yelling “I won. I beat you”  🙂

Finally, the tokens were gone and it was time to figure out what to get from the prize counter with Alex’s 153 tickets (while trying to explain the concept of “no, that costs too many.  No, you can’t have the 3000 ticket remote control car that’s worth $5 at Walmart).  I’m trying to steer Alex to the appropriate number of ticket items and pointing out good stuff (to speed the process along since we have a 3-hour drive yet and a t-ball game to attend in just 4 hours time at home).

BBB disappears and comes back with 4 more tokens.  He walks over to the big wheel game nearby (think Price is Right wheel) and says, “Alex come try this one.”  I’m immediately displeased because this is interrupting the time table of ever getting out of the arcade when we start the “just one more game” practice.  But fine, he’s already got the tokens, let’s get it over with.

Alex and I go over and he pulls the handle, the wheel spins and this is what we see at the end when it spots spinning:

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Yes, our little guy has it stop in the 1 inch spot on the entire wheel that awards you 1000 tickets (which spit out of the machine in two stacks of 500 and take about 5 minutes to come out) while lights flash and sirens play (think casino slot machines).   We explain to Alex what he has just done and he is now jumping up and down yelling “I did it. I won” while all the kids (and parents) in the arcade come to watch in awe and are congratulating him.

So instead of a mere 153 ticket prize to take home, he ends the day with 1153.  He chooses a full size kickball with little spikes on it and a set with 2 monster trucks with various signs and obstacles to get in their way.

So, it seems that sometimes, dads do know best and know when to push their luck with “just one more game.”

Happy Father’s Day dear!

Cassie

PS – Happy Father’s Day to everyone out there!

If your dad is still in your life, make sure you treat him nice today and tell him how much you love him because someday he’ll be gone like mine is (2 years to the day today) and you’ll wish you had “just one more time” with him.

PBeM writing and the wall of attitude

Some folks have asked when I will return to writing turns from the play by email game I do with Manny and James, the turns I was publishing here for a while.

I appreciate the interest, I really do. I posted them here because I enjoyed the writing and the story and thought it was a lot of fun, and wanted to share with those folks interested in role playing games and different ways to continue playing with friends, even across great distances.

The whole point to Play by Email, after all, is to try and find a way to continue playing with your friends when seperated by distance. I started a program like this the first time as a play by snail mail game when I was in the Marines, and a lot of my friends all inevitably changed duty stations or became deployed.

In the era before computers, it sucked a lot more for the obvious reasons; international mail can take forever, and writing all turns out by hand is just a joy.

But these days, really, if you had great fun playing with your friends, and then some move away, some go to college, some return home, or some go overseas and are in the sandbox for extended periods, email seems to be one thing that is made available to everyone at least once in a while. Playing a role playing game by email can be done, and it can be done with some depth.

The reason it hasn’t been happening lately, is simply that ever since the beginning of the entire ‘being laid off’ situation in the early part of this year, I haven’t been in the mood I need to be in to rock the creative writing.

No, this is blog writing, this does not count to me as creative writing. It’s all talking about facts, analysis about what happened, how you feel, what you think about stuff, and all that jazz.

Creative writing is when I use some game mechanics and the player turns to work out the framework of how the current story turn plays out, not much different than plotting story events out in advance… and then I groove on writing it all out as a story.

I have to be in a certain mindset to do that. I have to feel centered, pistons firing, energetic and, at heart, relaxed. Happiness is not necessary, but feeling relaxed and able to let the hamster cage of my mind run free and unrestrained to explore creative ideas is a must.

Since the first of the year when I was laid off, the stress and anxiety really has never gone away. I still feel in my heart that my family is financially near desperation at any time, regardless of how well my current job seems to be going. The continuous economic updates have not helped me to feel that things are stabilizing, not at all. Far from it.

I’m sorry, but I really do feel as though everything is precariously held together by a thin thread, and that just because my company loves my ass is no reason to believe that the company I work for is going to still be around in 5 months, EVEN if the company is financially successful.

There are many successful dealerships around the country that are finding out that just because your sales figures look great doesn’t mean that someone higher up may decide to make cuts, and your neck may go on the block.

There are still SO many people in this country unemployed, and the number is still growing everyday… and the talk has shifted away from the subject, as though it’s become a shameful little secret that we need to ignore in the hopes it will go away. Far better to talk about spending a trillion dollars to revamp health care under federal control, or whatever.

It’s still mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, families that are unemployed.

Now, maybe somebody in political office was unaware of this, living as they do like ticks on the ass of the general public, but when a normal person is unemployed, they don’t get special interest groups and lobbyists and corporations and universities giving them money for public speeches before their audience, or in the hope that they’ll look favorably on someone, or to have their name and influence tied to a board of directors.

No, when normal people are unemployed, that means that money stops coming in. Amazingly enough, bills do not stop at the same time.

Rent still needs to be paid (or mortgages), and when they are not… someone is homeless.

Food still needs to be purchased, and when there is no money, there is no food.

Gas still needs to be bought, car payments made, insurance premiums funded… and when they’re not, making interviews becomes a logistical nightmare, and the options for employment shrink to a geographical area around bus services you can get to.

Thank god for charitable organizations, food banks, shelters, religious outreach programs, and yes, for government assistance and educational programs.

I guess I just wanted to say that, the only reason that I haven’t been writing PBeM turns is that I am not feeling mentally able to do so. I feel like crap, on a short fuse, stressed out and worried all of the time.

It’s not because I don’t want to.

I will chill out again. Enlightenend reason will eventually overcome my hindbrain telling me to hunker down and circle the wagons.

I just wanted to explain where I’m coming from to you folks, because I really did love writing those posts, and Manny and James have been insanely patient with me, waiting for it to resume.

I swear, I just need to push this depressing crap off a cliff. I really do.

It’s just easier said than done.

You’ll know when I’m getting back to normal, it’ll be when the little bullshit stops setting me off on a rant, and a PBeM post gets written.

Until then, it’s time to go hunt down some caffeine.