Sunday, December 30, 2012


Fifty-two weeks, fifty-two blogs. I have never had a calendar year in which I have actually posted a blog every single Sunday, until now. This is blog number 52 for 2012 (unless I counted wrong, which is highly probable). Whether or not my count is correct, I have managed, for the first time ever in a single calendar year, to post something every week. Sometimes it’s been a rant, or something about nothing, or sometimes just a photo, but at least I can say I’ve posted something every week.

I’ve discovered a few things while engaging in this little project. First of all, I enjoy writing - or at least the act of writing; it’s cathartic. Secondly, how the fuck professional writers come up with material on a regular basis escapes me; there have been plenty of weeks where a topic worth writing about, or for which I had more than a sentence or two worth of commentary has alluded me.

I’ve also discovered, based on the analytics for the blog, that more people actually read this thing than just my friends who are kind enough to click on the links I post on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Interestingly, some of my older posts comparing To Do list services seem to be my most popular (or at least most viewed) posts.

Going into 2013 I can’t say that I’ll make another run at 52 straight weeks of blogging. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll allow myself the occasional break from blogging. I’ve always called the blog “Chaotic Commentary” because I’ve never locked the blog into a single topic; that won’t change, although don’t be surprised if you see more World of Warcraft themed blogs in the near future.


Carlisle’s Chaotic Commentary 2012 Posts

First Blog of 2012January 1, 2012
Damn it Feels Good to Be a LannisterJanuary 8, 2012
Ben Was Right... MostlyJanuary 15, 2012
What Possesses People?January 22, 2012
Let The Hunt BeginJanuary 29, 2012
The Hunt is OverFebruary 5, 2012
Some Chaotic CommentaryFebruary 12, 2012
Nook Tablet – First ImpressionsFebruary 19, 2012
Boxes, Boxes EverywhereFebruary 26, 2012
Movin' On UpMarch 4, 2012
Channels, Channels EverywhereMarch 11, 2012
Hungry for the GamesMarch 18, 2012
The Great Furniture HuntMarch 25, 2012
Put It Together Your Damn SelfApril 1, 2012
Laptops, WiFi & FamilyApril 7, 2012
Sunday Evening Bloggin’April 15, 2012
U-verse vs Xfinity - Just My Humble OpinionApril 22, 2012
Tiptoeing Through ‘The Cloud’April 29, 2012
LG Tone Bluetooth ReviewMay 6, 2012
Shaking My HeadMay 13, 2012
The Sarah J ShowMay 20, 2012
Remember More Than Just Your GrillMay 27, 2012
Sorry Ben, But Beer Doesn’t Love MeJune 3, 2012
RIP Ray BradburyJune 10, 2012
Happy Dad’s DayJune 17, 2012
Can’t Stop The MusicJune 24, 2012
Burnt OfferingsJuly 1, 2012
The Game Is AfootJuly 8, 2012
The Great Book DebateJuly 15, 2012
Is This The Real Life?July 22, 2012
Making a SplashJuly 29, 2012
Rethinking My Tablet ChoiceAugust 5, 2012
Vacation 2012August 12, 2012
Round IS a Shape, Right?August 19, 2012
Lock It DownAugust 26, 2012
Sunday RamblingsSeptember 2, 2012
Bachelor PadSeptember 9, 2012
Time to Become a Little More AntisocialSeptember 16, 2012
I’d Rather Be WritingSeptember 23, 2012
Rethinking the LayoutSeptember 30, 2012
Save the TatasOctober 7, 2012
The Last (?) Temptation of UhnkOctober 14, 2012
What the Puck!?October 21, 2012
Return to AzerothOctober 28, 2012
Heads or Tails - Election 2012November 4, 2012
Salute to our VeteransNovember 11, 2012
WoW, It’s Been A Month AlreadyNovember 18, 2012
Tis The SeasonNovember 25, 2012
Raiding, Achievements, and Gold, WoWDecember 2, 2012
What IfsDecember 9, 2012
Fifty Down, Two To GoDecember 16, 2012
We’re Still HereDecember 23, 2012
52December 30, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We’re Still Here

Well, this apocolypse that was supposed to happen a couple of days ago didn’t. So, have a Merry/Happy Chrismahaunakwanzaka (or whatever it is you celebrate this time of year)!

~ JC

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fifty Down, Two To Go

At the beginning of this calendar year I imposed upon myself a goal. That goal was to actually post a blog every Sunday through the end of the year. Writing, for me, has always been a cathartic undertaking. I don’t really care if anyone actually reads it or not. Sundays became the day of blogging from almost the start because it was always the one day of the week when I had time in the morning to post. A few years ago my friend Jimmy starting trying to do a daily blog, which inspired me to at least do a weekly one. Like most hobbies I undertake, I tend to go at it pretty hardcore at first then my interest starts to wane, so there are some pretty large gaps in the dates of my blog posts. Writing, though, is one of those enjoyments that I really like to do, so even though I didn’t write something every week, I still wrote fairly often. Strange as it sounds, it’s the act of typing that I enjoy - I’m not sure why. And yes, I’m the weirdo that will say that the thing I miss most about college is writing papers.

So far I’ve managed to post something every Sunday during 2012. Today’s post is number 50 with two more Sundays left in the calendar year. So, I’ll see you here next Sunday for another blog post (that is, of course, if the Mayan calendar was wrong).

~ JC

P.S. - I was going to write another World of Warcraft post this morning, but figured I’d take a break from that topic for a bit ;-)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

What Ifs

A month ago I turned 41. The older I get the more I tend to reflect on the past; “what if I had...?” types of thoughts. Life is a series of choices. Sometimes we make the right choice and a lot of times we make the wrong choice.

What has me in this train of thought right now is some recent training at work. I do technical support, and, like any other technology, our product advances through hotfixes, patches and newer versions.  Because we have to support both the older and newer versions of the software until the older version reaches “end of support”, and the newer version is quite different, the two days of training was very beneficial (note, the new version actually came out last year and we’ve already been supporting it, but subtle [and sometimes not so subtle] differences between it and what most of us are familiar with usually results in having to seek assistance when troubleshooting). As I sat there trying to absorb as much information as I could, I couldn’t help but think back to a time when I wanted to be a programmer. It got me to thinking about all the stupid mistakes I’ve made in my life, especially in my 20s and wondering where I’d be now if I had finished that degree in ‘Business Computer Programming’ back in the early 90s.

Would I still have ended up living in Atlanta? Would I have ever had met my fiancee? Or any of the people I now count as some of closest friends? Would I still have the job I have now, or I would I have been one of the folks who wrote the software for the product I now to support for?

It’s been said that hindsight is 20/20. For some things that may be true, but one thing's for sure - you can’t go backwards and you certainly can’t start regretting decisions made 20 years ago. I like my life, I love my fiancee and my friends. I like my job (usually). I like where I live. And I suppose that that’s really what matters now. I doesn’t matter what happened way back when; what’s important is where I’m at, and the opportunities to move forward.

~ JC

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Raiding, Achievements, and Gold, WoW

It’s a Raid!

As I’ve blogged recently, I started playing World of Warcraft again in October after an absence of a little over two years. My intention was not, necessarily, to become a full on raider again, but yet I now find myself in a guild that is working toward the goal of becoming a “Raiding Guild”. The difference is, we’re also a social guild, and with the Guild Advancement feature introduced in the Cataclysm expansion, or focus is more on leveling the Guild than anything else.

When I first started playing again, in some ways, I was glad I was no longer in an active guild. The pressure was off to have to be logged in so often to be a part of guild activities, like dungeons and raids. I have to admit, however, that I’m looking forward to helping build a new guild almost from the ground up. As of the time of this blog, Worlds End is level 6 (of 25) with last night’s efforts in Ulduar contributing greatly to that (in fact, the Guild hit level 6 while we were inside the instance). I’ve been made an officer already and asked to help with organizing and researching the boss fights for raids. And most of all, I had a lot of fun.

Right now we’re actually doing lower level raids. First, because it’s decent practice for when we get to raids that are appropriate to our toon levels. Second, none of us has hit level 90 yet and some are closer than others, so it gives us a chance to bond as a guild and still do things as a guild without having to use “pick up groups”. And thirdly, several members are interested in a new (to me anyway) thing called “transmog” for gear sets, which essentially lets you transfer gear stats from a piece of gear that you may not like the look of to a piece that actually matches the set your toon is wearing. Not really my thing, but helping with that also gets me missing Achievements that I missed out on from a few years back.

Achievement Unlocked

Speaking of Achievements, it seems like there are tons of them added in Mists of Pandaria, which is to be expected. It just seems that the achievement pop up occurs for things that I wouldn’t have expected in previous expansions (like completing a simple quest chain). What’s more important to me are the achievements for old dungeons and raids that I either never attempted or never completed for various reasons. Last night we cleared most of Ulduar (a 10-man raid for which the completion always eluded my old guild). I got to venture into parts of that (very large) instance that I had never seen before. Next weekend, we’re planning a run on Icecrown Citadel to down the Lich King (a raid that I completely missed out on because it didn’t exist yet when I quit playing back in January 2010).

Other recent achievements for my toon include several of the MoP quest chain achievements as well as reaching max level (600) for the skill First Aid.

Ooo, Shiny!

One of the things that inspired me to start playing WoW again was my friend Sam’s blog posts about Star Trek Online. Specifically, he was writing quite often about something called the “Dilithium Exchange”, which apparently is similar to the Auction House in World of Warcraft. One of the side things I did in WoW was to put items in the Auction House for sale to other players (for in game gold, not real money, obviously). This venture could turn out to be very profitable at times and a great way to augment the gold earned in game for quests and looting. What I’ve noticed, though, is that Blizzard seems to have become more generous with the quest rewards and the amounts that “vendor trash” loot sells for to the vendors. I have found at least three things so far that were “vendor trash grey” but that sold for 100g. Typically vendor trash nets you a few silver or maybe a gold or two. That, along with some decent luck with selling things in the Auction House took my main toon from 2500 gold in mid-October to just over 10,000 gold as of this past week. In fact, I was even able to help out a guildie with a loan of 2500 gold and not sweat being able to make that up pretty quick. If only I could make money in the real world that fast.

I have to wonder if, perhaps, the seeming acceleration of gold rewards in game is a way for Blizzard to help combat the gold farmers that sell in game gold for real money. These unscrupulous folks use exploits like bots or just plain hack/steal people’s accounts to strip them of gear and gold so they can sell it to other players. Blizzard has always said that buying gold like that is a violation of terms and conditions and that you could lose your account and be banned if caught. It seems, though like they’ve been doing a little bit better at combating that. One of the reason the gold farmers even existed to begin with was because of some of the ways Blizzard doled out gold rewards rather slowly while also having very high costs for in game purchases (I remember when the basic riding skill, for example, plus the mount itself cost around 40g - these days it only costs around 5g). There is even a Guild Perk within the new Guild Advancement system that generates gold for the entire guild based on a percentage of what its members loot when questing.

All in all, I’m enjoying the new changes to the game and the new friendships being formed with the new guild I’ve joined. I’m still managing, for the most part, to limit my playing time to a few hours a week with the occasional weekend of splurging.

~ JC

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tis The Season

Well, the holiday shopping season is now firmly upon us with this past Friday being “Black Friday”, the most infamous of shopping days. I hate to say it, but the older I get the harder it is to get “into the spirit”. It just seems like every year the focus of what the holidays are supposed to be about (family, thankfulness, peace on earth, etc.) gets pushed further and further down in the name of corporate greed and the stupidity of holiday shoppers. While I’ve not seen any news reports of senseless violence and accidents from Black Friday (mainly because I’ve gotten where I don’t watch the news all that much anymore because it’s too depressing/maddening), I did have my Mom tell me about how my sister witnessed a fist fight at a Wal-mart on Thanksgiving evening. And that’s another thing - now the stores can’t even wait until Friday? They had to open at 8:00pm on Thanksgiving to start the mad rush of bargain deals? WTF?!

I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet and, even though I made a wish list for myself at the behest of my fianceé, she added more to it than I did I think.

All I’m saying is, be safe and try not to get caught up in the retail bullshit.

~ JC

Sunday, November 18, 2012

WoW, It’s Been A Month Already

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a little over a month since I started playing World of Warcraft again. In that time I’ve raised my main character from level 80 to 86 (four more levels to go until the current maximum of 90). In the past my focus and goal was to simply level up as fast as possible so I could reach the end-game content. This time around, though, I’m actually enjoying the quests and the storylines that go with them. This is especially true of the Mists of Pandaria content.

It’s fairly apparent that the experience points gain for the Pandaria zones for getting from 85-90 aren’t doled out as heavily - or it could just be that needing to earn 15 million experience points per level makes it seem that way. I can’t help but wonder if the level gains this high up are slowed down on purpose to be in keeping with the Pandaren philosophy that MoP introduces of slowing down and enjoying life. The upshot to the slower leveling, though, is how much better the quest rewards have become, not only in terms of gold but gear as well. I think I’ve changed gear sets a couple of dozen times from 80-86 and I’ve gone from around 2500 in gold to just a smidge over 8000 (without having to resort to buying from illegal gold farmers).*

One of the more intriguing changes that was made during my two year absence from the game was Guild leveling. Naturally, it’s expected that characters level, but there are new achievements and perks related to being a part of a guild and the guild itself gaining levels. Up until last night, I was guild-less as my old group disbanded and most of them also, apparently, quit playing the game altogether. But now I get to experience this new aspect of the game from the ground up, as it were. I was actually offered 20 gold to help someone pull one of their other characters into their guild. So, I joined, then invited this guy’s other character in. I declined the payment in lieu of remaining a member. Over the last month, I’ve quested alone. With the exception of a friend of mine from the old guild who still plays, but is in a different guild and often is logged into a different server anyway, I mostly don’t have anyone to talk to in game. So, yeah, I don’t know these people, but then again, I didn’t know anyone in my old guild either, until I joined up with them. So, the prospect of new friends as well as helping to get a fledgling guild off the ground is quite intriguing and sounds like fun.

The one thing I do need to note, for those that may be concerned, is that I’ve been much more conservative in my playing time than I was in the past. One of the reasons I quit the game back in 2010 was because it was just eating up way too much of my time. Back then, I would get home from work, eat dinner as quickly as possible and then play until bedtime - everyday; and if it was my day off I’d play away most of the day. These days though, I have specific days that I don’t play at all and the other days I limit myself to an hour or two (mainly because I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning so going to bed any later than 10:00 or 10:30 just doesn’t work well). Days off I’ll spend more time playing, but I also make sure things like laundry and errands are taken care of first. So, yeah, I’m back in the game, but managing the time involved much better than before.

~ JC

Previous Blogs in this Series

The Last (?) Temptation of Uhnk” - October 14, 2012
Return to Azeroth” - October 28, 2012

* Note: That’s not all from quest rewards. I’ve also gotten back into my routine of selling things in the Auction House with fairly decent results.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Salute to our Veterans

To my Great Uncle Lt. Gus Hamilton, who gave his life in World War II; to my Grandfather CWO4 Quincy McPhail, who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam; to my friend Daniel Hamberg [USMC] (sorry, buddy, couldn't remember your rank) who was injured in Afghanistan severely enough to be medically retired before he was even 30; to all those who serve, have served, and will serve - Thank You! We live free because of your sacrifices.

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans' organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. -

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Heads or Tails - Election 2012

For the most part I’ve tried to keep this blog politically neutral over the years. This coming Tuesday, however, is a Presidential Election. The U.S. will decide, on that day, whether to re-elect Barrack Obama for four more years speeches that mean absolutely nothing or to elect Mitt Romney for four years of absolutely clueless bullshit speeches. Every four years the American people are given, basically, two choices; neither of which are particularly impressive to me. Because of the duology of our political system, independent candidates and third-party candidates largely go ignored and the constituency aren't even aware that there are other choices than the two mainstream candidates.

This year is no different. We have a choice of either re-electing an incumbent who has been largely ineffectual during his first term or a electing a multi-millionaire who is completely clueless about who the middle class really is. Our third choice, and for once we have one, is Gary Johnson, running as the Libertarian Party candidate. He seems more balanced than the other two choices - being conservative on some issues and liberal on others (a point of view I prefer). Unfortunately, he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning any state, let alone the key states needed for the electorate. What he does stand a chance of doing is getting enough votes to make folks realize that it’s past time to break away from a very broken “us versus them” two party system.

Be that as it may, I’m not blogging in advocacy of any candidate. I’ve made my choice and will cast my ballot on Tuesday along with all the other registered voters that haven’t already availed themselves of early voting. I really don’t care who you vote for, just vote - or remain silent for the four years.

~ JC

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Return to Azeroth

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I’m all outta bubblegum.”

Two weeks ago I began playing the (in)famous game World of Warcraft again. Despite my list of pros and cons having the cons slightly ahead, I ended up heading back into Azeroth for another round of adventuring and questing. The last time I actively played was during the expansion Wrath of the Lich King, specifically, patch 3.2 “Call of the Crusade”. Since I said my goodbyes to my Guild back in January 2010,  two expansions have come out - Cataclysm (October 2010) and Mists of Pandaria (September 2012), with “MoP” putting the game patch version at 5.0.x. Cataclysm made some pretty major changes to the game, especially in the layout of some of the zones and the ability to use flying mounts in Azeroth proper.1 So much has changed, that I almost don’t know where to begin. For example, it’s rather embarrassing, being that I play an Orc, to say that I now get lost in the Orcs’ capital city of Orgrimmar because it’s changed so dramatically since last I played. Not only have classic zones been revamped, but the game system itself has changed quite a bit as well.

Class and Race Combinations:

To briefly summarize, for those that may not be familiar with the game, classic, “vanilla”, WoW included eight playable races. For the Alliance - Human, Night Elf, Dwarf, and Gnome; For the Horde - Orc, Troll, Tauren, and Undead . There were also nine classes - Warrior, Mage, Druid, Priest, Shaman, Hunter, Rogue, Paladin, and Warlock. Burning Crusade (patch 2.0) added two races; Dranei for the Alliance and Blood Elves for the Horde. Adding Blood Elves to the Horde also gave that faction a race that could play the Paladin class for the first time.  Wrath of the Lich King (patch 3.0) added a new class; the Death Knight.

Cataclysm (patch 4.0) added two new races to the game - for the Alliance, the Worgen and for the Horde, Goblins. These races, most notably Goblins, had always been present, just not as a playable race. This expansion also added several new options for Race-Class combinations, such as Paladin as an option for the Taurens, giving the Horde two races who could play that class instead of just one, and compared the the three races within the Alliance that could be Paladins. There are several other new combinations as well with classes being added as options for races that previously were not possible.

Mists of Pandaria (patch 5.0), which I have not purchased a license for yet,3 adds a new playable race, Pandaren, as well as a new class, Monk. Yeah, I know - apparently the folks at Blizzard watched a lot of “Kung Fu Panda” while working on ideas for the fourth expansion.

New Zones, Rearranged Zones, and Flying Around in All of It:

A few months after Cataclysm had come out, and roughly a year after I had quit playing, I was offered ten days of free game time as an enticement. I took the ten free days because I wanted to see what had changed about the zones. Ten days wasn’t nearly enough time to explore all of it, though. But the new ability to use flying mounts almost everywhere certainly makes it a bit easier.

First of all, flying mounts were previously only usable in Outland, which was introduced in patch 2.0 Burning Crusade (which also introduced flying mounts to begin with) and Northrend (patch 3.0 Wrath of the Lich King) once the Cold Weather Flying skill was purchased. Now, though, flying is available anywhere, even in the classic zones, once the character has purchased the skill called Flight Master’s License (a mere 250 gold).4  Getting the Flight Master’s License is, without a doubt, a necessity to be able to quest and explore for higher level characters.

There are, frankly, too many changes here for me to try to go into all of them, especially since I have had the time to explore it all yet. Some of the more notable (to me) changes are Orgrimmar, the capital city of the Orcs and the Barrens. Orgrimmar looks completely different now and is multi-tiered with lifts to get to the upper tier. There’s been new construction under the new Warchief as well. The city is actually larger now, and I mentioned before, I get lost in it, but I’m learning my way around. The Barrens has been split into two zones, Northern Barrens and Southern Barrens, instead of just one huge zone. I’m pretty sure that prior to the Cataclysm, it was the largest zone in the game. I hated questing in the Barrens, just because of the sheer size of it, and at levels that were too low to be able to get the riding skill and a mount. Now that it’s been split in two, with the Northern Barrens being a lower level zone and Southern Barrens being a mid-level zone, it’s not quite as bad and questing in that zone from levels 10-20 gets completed a lot faster. For more information, check out the WoWWiki Cataclysm page.

Other Stuff of Note:

There are lots of other things that have changed that I am continuing to discover, but to be honest, this blog post would begin getting out of hand (or turn into a two or three part blog over the next few weeks) if I started trying to detail every little thing. There are new guild recruiting and search tools, certain things, like mounts, etc. that were previously “soulbound” to a character are now account bound and useable by any character. Flight points, which previously had to be discovered, are now automatically added as a character levels up so they know them for the zones that are level appropriate to them. Patch 5.04 added something called “Pet Battles” wherein companion, non-combat, pets that were obtained more to get an achievement for collecting them, can now be trained for do battle (albeit, only with other battle pets). Gathering professions such as skinning and herbalism no grant experience points. Speaking of experience points, the experience gains from from quests and combat seem to have been dramatically increased (at least at lower levels). Drop rates have improved - I refer here most notably to the previously mentioned zone, the Barrens, where you’d have to kill four or five beasts to get the one hoof or horn or whatever the fuck the quest called for. Now it’s more like kill two to get one (much much better than before). Archeology was added as another secondary skill - the previous list of secondary skills was First Aid, Cooking and Fishing.

I’ve only been back in the game for a couple of weeks, and I haven’t even bought the most recent expansion yet, so I’m sure I’ll uncover more fun new stuff that wasn’t there before. But for now, I’m just enjoying the adventure.

~ JC


1. By “Azeroth proper” I mean the original zones located on the continents of Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Flying mounts were introduced in the first expansion, Burning Crusade, and were only usable in the area known as “Outland”. They were also allowed in the area “Northrend” which was introduced in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Cataclysm allowed Blizzard to completely revamp and rewrite the code for the original areas making flying mounts possible there.

2. Previously the only Horde race that could choose Paladin were Blood Elves (compared to Human, Dwarf and Dranei for the Alliance).

3. In other words, while I have access to most of the new content, purchasing a license for the most recent expansion would allow me full access to play a Pandaren or a Monk as well as new dungeon and raid content.

4. I could go into a whole rant about how certain things in the game are obviously designed to be a huge gold sink while other things have been extremely reduced in price since I first started playing, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that I really wish Blizzard would make up their mind about how much the riding skills will cost in terms of in-game currency because it still seems unbalanced to me. I mean, really - 5,000 gold to learn fast flying and another 5,000 for very fast flying - Why?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What the Puck!?

At the end of the 2003-04 hockey season, my fiancée and I were given tickets to a single-A minor league game. It was the first time that either of us had been to a hockey game, and we were both pretty hooked (more me, than her, probably). Alas, the very next season, 2004-05, was the infamous NHL lockout and player strike that resulted in the entire season being lost.

You would think the NHL and NHLPA would have learned their lesson from that debacle. But apparently not. As of September 26, the league has once again locked out the players due to a lack of a Collective Bargaining Agreement. The pre-season was completely cancelled, and as of October 19, the first few weeks of the regular season have also been cancelled through at least November 1 (the season was supposed to have started around October 12).

What’s more, the CBA that was negotiated after the 2004-05 season was a total wash, apparently expired in mid-September. Here’s my question - why the fuck wasn’t a new CBA already being negotiated during the summer in order to avoid the loss of the pre-season and (so far) the first four weeks of the regular season? Ok, maybe it was, but from the press releases on, it almost appears as though they waited until the last possible minute to start talking about it.

Do the parties involved in this not realize that without the fans, there is no league? Cancelling games and risking losing yet another season is not exactly a great way to endear your selves to the people who buy the tickets to the games and all the swag and merchandise that generate revenue, now is it?

Player strikes and league lockouts in professional sports never make sense to me. According to Yahoo! Sports, the average NHL salary is $2.4 million per year. Figuring a season of 82 games (not counting the playoffs), that comes to just over $29k per game. According to Social Security Online, the the national average wage index in 2010 was just over $41.5k. In other words, these guys make more money in two games than the average person makes in a year, but yet they whine for more? WTF?

I know some will disagree with me on this and go into arguments about the pinnacles of their profession should be paid well, and I don’t completely disagree. But this business of millionaires complaining about needing more money to play a freakin’ game starts to get a bit ridiculous in my opinion.  So, dear NHL and NHLPA - get your shit together and let’s drop the damn puck already!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Last (?) Temptation of Uhnk

A few weeks ago Blizzard Entertainment released its most recent expansion to World of Warcraft titled Mists of Pandaria. When last I played WoW, Cataclysm was in the works and about a year away from release. The last time I actually logged into my WoW account via the game client was right after Cataclysm was released, and that was only because Blizzard gave me a free 10-day trial and I decided to check out all of the heralded zone changes in that expansion. Ok, and so I could try my hand at playing a Goblin since that was one of the two new races (would’ve tried Worgen too, but I don’t like to play Alliance toons).

Now that Blizzard has released another expansion, one featuring the first ever neutral, playable race (Pandaren) and a new class (Monk), I’ll admit it; I am a bit intrigued, and even a bit tempted to take Uhnk1 out of digital mothballs (otherwise known as archive) and start playing again. And so now, I have to go into the pros and cons and convince myself, once again, why this could be a bad idea.


  1. It was fun - hell, it’s a game; games are fun. It was something to do in the evenings and on weekends and I enjoyed it.
  2. Guildmates - I developed several online friendships playing WoW, some of which I still maintain via Facebook.
  3. Being able to take out frustrations - we all have crappy days and seeing as how actually choking or stabbing someone would land you in prison, playing a game like WoW and engaging in virtual combat was a way to let off steam and reduce stress.
  4. Boredom - let’s be honest here. I really don’t watch that much television anymore. Except for a couple of nights out of the week, there’s not that much on that interests me. The other nights, I end up mindlessly surfing the internet with the TV being really nothing but background noise. I have, frankly, considered starting up WoW again (or some other game) just to have something to do in the evenings.


  1. Cost - there’s the monthly fee for starters ($14.99/month), which I was able to save a little bit on by buying six month’s worth of game time for $77.94 (which breaks down to $12.99/month) when I actively played. Then there’s the fact that I am now two expansions behind, so if I want to actually level up my toon(s) past level 80 I would have to buy both at $39.99 each (maybe not at the same time, but still - that’s an $80 layout of funds that are needed for things like, you know, bills and groceries). Then there’s the fact that I still have an old character on a different server than what had become my primary server. While it appears that Blizzard no longer charges to move a toon, they do charge for a faction change, and I would need to do that since my first toon was Alliance and Uhnk is Horde.
  2. Time - I lost so much free time to playing this game that at one point it took me a year to read a book by my (at the time) favorite author. Now that I don’t play games like this anymore, I actually get through a book in a week or two (or four plus if it’s written by George R.R. Martin). Then there’s also the fact that I now live in Atlanta, where there’s almost always something to do (plays, festivals, sporting events, etc.).
  3. “The Grind” - all MMORPGs share this problem. Quest, level up, rinse, repeat. And then, once you reach the maximum level, all that’s left is “daily quests” for reputation, tokens, gold, gear, or whatever. If you’re lucky enough to be in a good Guild, there are raids, but sometimes getting a group of 10-20 together to raid is like trying to herd kittens. After awhile, it just becomes repetitive and almost starts to feel like it’s your second job instead of a hobby or pastime.
  4. The In-Game Economy - this could be considered part of “The Grind”. As you gain levels, you gain the chance to learn new abilities, but these aren’t free. You have to pay your trainer in virtual gold. This leads to another kind of grind for currency in addition to levels. You have to get your gear repaired, buy a mount, etc. So, you end up selling stuff in the Auction House - but of course you have to go grind for the materials to sell in the auction house. See how this becomes a cycle and what I meant by the game becoming more like a second job?
  5. The Guild - I know I already listed Guildmates as a pro, and the friendships I had with them were awesome. But, the problem with being in a guild is the constant feeling of letting down a bunch of people if you’re not logged on. That’s not to say that my ego made me think that the guild couldn’t function without me, but I know what it was like to try to fill raid spots when someone wasn’t logged on. The fact that my rogue was typically in the top 5 for DPS2 during raids and instances certainly made me feel needed and made me even feel a little guilty if I wasn’t online, especially on raid nights.
  6. The Game has Changed... a lot - I’ve been reviewing the way talents are now calculated in version 5.x.x, and at this point, it appears that I would essentially have to completely re-learn how to play my characters, not to mention retrain and redo their specializations (aka “respec”). For that matter, the Cataclysm expansion changed the zones around so much, that I’d probably get lost pretty quickly.

What about the freebies or just another MMORPG instead? There are free to play MMORPGs out there. In fact, I recently discovered that even WoW has a free-to-play version now (limited to level 20) and it seems as though all of the subscription ones I knew of have all gone to some kind of free version which allow you to pay for extras if you want. I’ve played a couple of the free ones when I was weaning myself off of WoW3; the idea being that I could get my gaming fix while not feeling quite as obligated to play since I didn’t feel like I was losing money by not playing and I didn’t have a bunch of guildmates waiting on me to log on. They were ok, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The free-to-play games and/or versions of game tend to be very limited, which leads to either it becoming really boring really fast, or being enticed into going ahead and subscribing or buying things from the game’s online store.

So, there you go. There are days that I wish I still played WoW, or at least something like it (like rainy weekend days or nights when there’s nothing on TV of interest to me, for example). But, there are plenty of other things to do (reading, building and painting models, movies, and most importantly, spending time with my fiancée) that it makes the thought of journeying into Azeroth again questionable. Then again, the more I read about the changes, the more intrigued I become. ;-)

Oh, who the fuck am I trying to kid. Yesterday I downloaded and installed the game client4 and plan on trying to get at least 30 days of game time within the next week, possibly even today. As for the expansions - we’ll see if I still like it enough to actually go that far after I’ve spent a few days playing it again. Hell, somehow I even managed to have never deleted the folder that had all my saved addon data from the last time I played it, so I’m not even going to have to do all that much to get everything set up the way I remember it. Truth is, I’ve also already been checking online, including Ebay, for good pricing on the expansion packs.

~ JC


1. The name “Uhnk” exists for multiple characters across the various WoW servers ( I would, however, like to go on record that I have used that name since I was 13 for one of my all time favorite D&D characters and two WoW characters; an Orc Warrior on Shadowsong (deleted) and an Orc Rogue on Blood Furnace (level 80 and archived). It’s also one of the online handles I have used for several years. Case in point, my twitter name is Uhnk13.

2. DPS = Damage Per Second - a measure of the damage dealt by a person or group over one second. DPS is a more practical measure of damage output than plain damage, as it allows characters of differing levels and classes to effectively compare their damage output. (

3. Most notably, I played D&D Online, briefly, and Runes of Magic. I recently tried to log into my RoM account, but it’s been so long it’s already been deleted. Interestingly, my DDO account is still active, my characters are just archived like my WoW characters. I wrote a couple of blogs about these two games if you’re interested:
D&D Online - 1st Impressions” - Sunday, November 1, 2009
WoW, I Really Like RoM” - Sunday, April 25, 2010
More recently, I tried a browser based game called Drakensang, but found it very very lacking (didn’t even play it enough to warrant a blog post about it). Thanks in part to some recent blog postings of my old college buddy, Sam, I’ve even considered Star Trek Online.

4. I will say this - it took close to 14 fucking hours to fully download the 20ish GB of content. That did not endear Blizzard to me at all. Then again, if I had not uninstalled the game from the last time I had free trial time, then I probably wouldn’t have had to go through that.