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