The Chicago Bears!

No, not football.

Tomorrow morning, my family and I are taking a trip to visit Chicago. We’re going to be gone all week on a nice adventure, taking the train into the city, seeing all the sights, living large.

During this time, I won’t be on WoW at all, but I’ll still have my email and such.

There should still be post activity,  but I intend to spend what free time I have writing for the PBeM story, and putting WoW stuffs behind me for a while.

Have a safe week, my friends.

WoW! Sorta kinda maybe

I’ve been quiet about WoW lately, because most of the stuff I used to find fun… isn’t.

I used to enjoy;

  • Playing end game instances/raids with others
  • Leveling/questing/exploring in the world
  • Playing cooperatively while leveling with my wife

I’m not going to write some massive bearwall. It would be too long, and undoubtedly boring.

What I will say is, I didn’t enjoy the way Wrath made every 10 person guild a potential progression raiding guild, with that inevitable awareness in the back of everyone’s head that you could possibly see everything in the game… if you started raiding more often. And started taking it a little more seriously. I did enjoy the tempo and design of instances in Wrath, though. Say what you will about them, I enjoyed being able to get a group and burn through an instance at a fast pace. It was pretty cool. I’m not talking about the difficulty level or lack thereof, I’m talking about how long the bloody things took. With Cataclysm, we have the same 10 and 25 person raid progression go go go, but with Burning Crusade style instances requiring teamwork, coordination and cooperation.

I love the new heroic instances as a concept, and I applaud Blizzard for combining the carrot of leveled guild rewards with the stick of heroic instances that are hell on pugs. I think Blizzard sat down and did some serious thinking on how to deal with the endless bitching and complaining about asshats in PUGs. From out of these meetings came the realization that if they could just get the players to form larger guilds, and make them WANT to play in runs as guilds instead of PUGs, then the asshats they end up hating will be in their own guild… and all that bile and hatred would be turned on guild leaders and officers to deal with the asshats rather than on Blizzard.

A guild you can level with great in-game rewards, mounts, pets, Heirlooms and stuffs? Where having more people doing things levels you faster? And to level the guild you have to do things together that you used to PUG? Well played, Blizzard. Well played. I hope that your customer service complaints have been reduced in the percentages expected.

I’m not enjoying exploring the world, because all of Azeroth has changed, and the instancing means that my max level characters can’t just go out there and check things out 100%, learn it. Oh no, if I want to see the zone the way it’s supposed to be… I have to do all the quests in the zone, damn near. On everyone.

And hey, it sure would be nice to go hang out with a lower level friend, maybe help out… oh wait, I’m in the wrong phase. Oh well, guess you’re on your own. Sorry!

And I’m mostly not enjoying playing cooperatively with  the love of my life and best friend, whom I happen to be married to. You see, even if you’re grouped together, and playing together, and leveling together and staying in perfect sync XP to XP… a lot of this phasing takes you out of the game world into your own little custom zone, for you to address the serious stuff.

Boy, that’s just great when you were doing the quests together, and one of you is the Tank while the other is DPS/Healing. “Where the hell were you when I had to kill the bad guy? Sucker tried to eat me?” “Sorry, I think I slipped into an alternate universe there for a second. My bad.”


On a side note, a digression, a sidebar if you will…. Blizzard, it takes a special kind of genius to design a game that has as its sole end game focus GROUPING… to work hard to emphasize grouping, to drive people to bigger guilds, and to design content requiring teamwork and cooperation and coordination, just as I said before… but to make sure that while leveling up while questing, that you CAN’T COMPLETE THE LEVELING QUESTS AS A COOPERATIVE GROUP.

Boy, with all of that, you might think that I’m a whisker’s breadth away from quitting, right?

Damn near, my friends. Damn near.

What is keeping me from that is one main thing.

I CAN play cooperatively while questing with the woman I love. I just have to do it in Outlands or Northrend, that’s all. And then, once we finish in Northrend… well, I guess we’re done, because the new content is another clusterfu&^ for leveling while grouped.

So I’m playing my Frost Mage while Cassie tanks as a Bear. She dinged 68 last night while I’m still at 67, in Shadowmoon Valley.

It’s so much fun… sad to say, my biggest hope now is that Blizzard doesn’t “improve” the old content, it’s the only stuff we can still play together as a team.

I am also contemplating trying something wacky with folks on some other server somewhere, doing Elune only knows what. There’s a really fun-sounding concept guild called “Twits and Giggles” that the Disciplinary Priest started over on Fizzcrank-US, Alliance side. It’s Death Knights only, and as the title implies, it’s just for fun. I could try that. I’ve been leveling a DK on my server, but wtf, I could do another one, right?

It’s either that, or see if I can find someone somewhere that can use a Bear tank once in a while, but who can’t commit to playing that often. Yeah, put THAT in your application and see how far you get, huh?

Drawing results for the guild website and chat server, courtesy of Enjin!

It’s been one week since the drawing was announced on the blog, and Maxim and the crew over at have picked a winner in true video gamer form; they used a random number generator.

Personally, I’d have used some dice, but then again… I’ve got a lot of dice. Hmmm. Actually, remembering some of the gamers I’ve known, I don’t have a lot of dice. I only have one large tackle box full. I’ve known gamers with far more than that. Perhaps I should simply say that I have a wide variety of potential high rollers to choose from and leave it at that.

However they did it, your comments were counted, the names were entered, and the winner has been chosen.

Congratulations goes to the lucky winner, Ken R!

Ken R left the following winning comment on the original post;

I’m a long time reader of BBB but rarely comment. That said, I appreciate the serious thought given to whether or not to do something like this and appreciate him gving his readers a chance to win (and to bring a few others out from our lurker holes). 🙂

I would love to be able to go to my guild’s leadership with this as a present to thank them for the literal years of work that have gone into keeping the group active through multiple games and the comings and goings that will occur as real life intervenes in our gaming time together.

I’m a member of guild named Esquire on Mannoroth. While the guild name hasn’t always been the same, the group has played together in Everquest, Dark Ages of Camelot, and WoW throughout it’s lifespan with occasional dalliances in Star Wars Galaxies, Age of Conan, etc. This is a group of people committed to playing together and tackling content in everything we play as a guild and has cameraderie that simply can’t be beat. We have a website right now that no one uses because it’s a pain to manage and therefore gets updated rarely with our officers’ busy lives. Our Vent server is paid for out of the kindness of one officer’s heart, despite there being plenty around who would help.

Ken, I’m emailing you as we speak to get you all set up with Maxim.

For those of you that had commented on the post to enter the drawing, Maxim would like to offer you a a special two (2) MONTHS of free premium hosting on Enjin’ Advanced plan, which comes with a 10 man mumble server.

To take advantage of that offer, all you need to do is create a website on, and then send Maxim an email at with the Subject “Big Bear butt commenter – your commenter name”.

In the body of your email, let Maxim know the details of the guild website account you created, and he’s told me that he’ll take it from there.

With that, I’m calling this drawing completed, and hopefully a success.

Good luck to everyone that entered, and especially a great good fortune to Ken, who I hope will enjoy the website and server with his friends for the entire year to come.

Good night!

NOT working as intended

Last night, I put up a post that was meant to share a funny video Manny sent me the link to.

It was very funny.

I hit publish, checked it out, and the video wasn’t there. No video! I checked a few times, and the embed code simply didn’t work. I had to race out the door that second, so I had no recourse to fix it any other way, like by just adding a link. I had to do something, so I deleted the post and bailed.

Over the course of the day, the case of the mysterious vanishing post has caused all sorts of confusion for readers, for, with the genius of feedburner and feed readers everywhere, you are not allowed to have ever made a mistake when you hit publish. It goes out exactly as it was at that moment, even if you delete it 2 seconds later.

Isn’t that nice.

Now, a smart feed solution would be to also send out updates to posts, so if things, like life itself, ever happened to change, maybe people would have the chance to see that.

Ah well, I’m sure someone will make such an original innovation someday in the future, and we will all look back on today’s feeds with scorn, wondering how we ever accepted such a static situation.

In the meantime, I’ve had several very helpful folks email me to ask why my blog has been hijacked, or to let me know that my feed is infected with a virus, or etc etc, because the feed has a post on it, but lo and behold clicking on the link results in the post not being found, and various and sundry errors occuring.

Gotta love hindsight. Wish I woulda just let it be and fixed it later.

The latest email I received was a very nice one from Elynea, which came in as I was fighting with idiots in a Stonecore pug.

I know I got the email, because my new phone chirped at me, and it is but a moment’s swype to open and peruse the message.

I read Elynea’s message while fighting, and wanted to reply to her right away so she wouldn’t worry.

BUT… I didn’t want to stop fighting in the pug. They may have been idiots and acting like tools, but that’s no excuse for me to be rude.

My new phone offered me a solution! I can haz multitasking!

I selected reply, and then tapped the microphone on the keypad, activating voice chat.

I spoke my message into the phone, and it processed my words, then converted my speech into the actual email message!

What I said was, “I know, I deleted the post because it was broken. Sorry about that.”

The phone took that message, chomped on it and produced a typed version. I shall now share with you what my phone wanted to send Elynea;

“I know I deleted the post it was broken. Suck on it.”

Ummm…. hold on JUST a second before hitting send there, pardner. Run that one by me again?

Perhaps… just perhaps… this new technology ain’t exactly perfect yet.

You’ll be glad to know that no Elyneas were told to suck on anything in the course of this process.

My wife DID get a good laugh out of the look on my face, though.

You have my heartfelt apology

If you are a reader who visits through a cell phone, truly…

You have my most sincere apology for the heck I put you through on a regular basis.

Yes, I installed a smartphone-friendly plugin for the blog that was supposed to improve the appearance of the blog when viewed from a smartphone.

That doesn’t mean I’d ever actually visited the blog that way.

Tonight, we went ahead and both bought LG Optimus-V phones on the Virgin Mobile network. These are Android 2.2 phones, and our monthly plan has unlimited internet and text.

Obviously, the second thing I did was visit the blog. (First was to check my email).

The blog loaded up looking… interesting. No banner picture, just post titles.

I made the mistake of visiting my most recent Bearwall diatribe.

The page opened easily enough, and I scrolled down the text.

And scrolled. And scrolled.

And scrolled.

I’m serious. I’m really sorry. When I check my Bearwalls on a widescreen monitor at my desk, they seem annoyingly long but reasonable.

Trying to read them on a smartphone, they are an offense committed against both nature and God, and should be struck down with heavenly fire.

I promise, I will try… TRY to rein myself in henceforth, and drive myself to greater heights of brevity.

Good lord, after reading that massive textbomb, I’m lucky nobody ever visited one of my “Greet the Bear” events and just walked right up and punched me square in the mouth without saying a word.

Help a Bear nom chatta chatta!

The Bear family is taking a vacation in a few months… to Chicago.

Cassie is pondering getting a new family cell phone. We’re seeing tons of reviews, but sometimes nothing beats expert advice… and you’re my favorite bunch of experts.

What we do, being a family of budget-conscious type folks, is use T-Mobiles’ pre-paid phone plans. Our minutes last for a year, there are no monthly charges, it works really well for us. The people we generally call are each other or close family members, or use them for emergencies. A $100 time card lasts a looooong time. We don’t text, either. 🙂

What Cassie is interested in are a few of the new internet-capable touchscreen phones T-Mobile has available. Their plan for pre-paid is that if you use the internet on the phone, it costs $1.49 for the 24 hours you used the internet. So, if you were on vacation for, say, a week, and you’d like to be able to do map searches, find places to eat, bus schedules, museam times, whatever, we’d only be out $10 or so and have full internet that whole week. On top of the cost of the phone, of course.

What makes it hard is seeing pictures of phones and reading descriptions of features and checking out the reviews written by people we don’t know. We’d like some actually knowledgeable people to give us their thoughts.

The two phones Cassie is liking at the moment are the Nokia 5230 Nuron, and the T-Mobile Comet with Android browser. They’re both in the $100 price range, which, again… we’re a family on a budget.

There is also a Samsung Gravity at the moment, which looks to me to be a really pretty phone.

The Nokia is an older phone touting built in GPS and the ability to save maps on the 2 gig internal memory. There is also mention that with a Nokia downloaded app, you could use it connected to your laptop for internet browsing on the go. The Comet is Android based, and has a capacitive touchscreen, and built in WiFi internet, which presumably means that if we were in areas with Wi-Fi hotspots, we wouldn’t have to use paid minutes to browse the internet.

I put it to you folks… any of you familiar with any of these three devices? I’d sure hate to buy a pig in a poke, and then find out we chose…. poorly.

Various forms of navel gazing

I just wanted to let you know I added something to the website, just for fun.

I’ve got an addon enabled now that let’s me update and track the various books I’m reading.

I’m fairly certain none of you have any interest from day to day in finding out what I’m reading, but the addon is pretty neat in that it lets me track by currently reading, intending to read and finished reading categories. It also keeps all of my entries, with start and finished dates, in a virtual library that anyone can search by visiting the blog.

I could even update the books when I’m done with ratings and mini-reviews, if I were really happy (or pissed at) a certain book.

If I use this diligently, then over time it’ll be pretty fun… for me.

For you, probably not so much. Although in a year from now, I’m sure searching through my reading habits, so long as I keep myself dead honest, should be worth a laugh or two.

For the WordPress bloggers who may agree with me that this sounds really neat, the one I’m using is Now Reading Reloaded

I’m not an Amazon Affiliate, so clicking through any of those books in the sidebar will NOT make me any money whatsoever. But I’m thinking that this might be one thing I wouldn’t mind going ahead and setting up as a paid affiliate… Cassie has clients that use the Affiliate program on their websites, and she assures me that if someone were to click through to Amazon from a book I listed, AND were to buy it, I might see a penny or two.

I think I can live with that kind of income and keep my street cred. Maybe.

I’ll think about it.

We’re Back

If you visited the Big Bear Butt website this morning while the redirect virus was still active, first, I apologize for the trouble. Our website was not directly targeted; we enjoyed the results of someone globally attacking WordPress installations hosted on GoDaddy because GoDaddy has crap security. Yay us, we just payed for our hosting through the entire next year. That doesn’t change the fact that, once again, we thanked you for visiting by trying to make your computer sick.

You’re welcome.

Second, I ask that, if you did get redirected, please make sure you clean the following cookies from your system, and then as an extra safety measure, run a viruscan.

The cookies you should make sure you remove are “bb2_screener_” and one called “s9aerzero”. Many thanks for the assistance from Nick aka Foxpaw for this info.

The site has been restored from one of our daily backups from before the hack, after the last hack a year ago we added a daily backup of the entire site as a security feature. Go Cassie! It took a long time to figure out how to actually USE the backup, as GoDaddy’s backend doesn’t play nice with, well, anybody. But she did it.

It’s amazing how frustrating it can be when you’ve diligently been backing up your work for a year, and the first time you really need to use that backup, you find out you don’t even know how, there’s no documentation, and the hosting site doesn’t like the file format anyway. Grrr.

Lastly, if someone happens to still have a copy of the text from my more recent post, “Hunters and Druids and fun”, possibly from a feedreader edition, I’d appreciate your emailing it to me at tigerlordgm AT yahoo DOT com, so I can repost that one. I’ve still got the picture of my Hunter, I may repost that as well, i like that pose. 🙂 I don’t need that mailed to me, though. It was short enough I got it covered.

Thanks for all the well wishes, my friends, and happy holidays to you this fine week. God bless.

I’m sorry

I tried to give you storytime today.

It reached over 3 thousand words… and I haven’t gotten to the camping bit yet.

I’m either going to go insane and post this monstrosity right before I nuke the site from orbit, or I’m going to fall back and punt, and just start over.

I have no idea what happened. This is ridiculous.

I’m gonna put the question to you

I’ve got two things I could write. Well, two big things, and probably continue with a bunch of this small crap.

I’m waffling over which of the two big things to commit to. I don’t know why; I don’t like waffles. But I am, and it’s keeping me from writing either one.

So I’m gonna put it to you.

Which would you rather I committed to actually writing next, a Storytime about camping as a kid, or the next installment of Converging Forces?

Sorry, you don’t get a third option. Those are the two that have bubbled to the top of my brain. 

I don’t have writers block, dear God I don’t even understand what that is. I sit down, and the fingers start putting words one after the other across the screen.

A QUALITY block… those, I know well. Oh yes, I most certainly know the name of that daemon and I’m familiar with the feel of his foetid breath hot on the back of my neck.

So – A Storytime, or a Converging Forces turn?

You decide. I need to bust up this damn logjam.