Archive for the ‘Off-Topic’ Category

Stay Awhile and Listen   3 comments

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you wish you could just fast forward to the end of it and be done already? That was pretty much my week last week. The oddest part was that I was off of work last week. You would think that it would be relaxing, laid back, enjoyable! But you’d be wrong! You see, Brade had surgery on Tuesday – nothing overly major as far as surgeries go – just a day thing, but lord if that week didn’t take it out of me. By the end of the week, I was so exhausted that even if I didn’t want to sleep my body was telling me to get my ass into bed.

I sort of feel like I need a vacation from my vacation!

Anyhow, one of the upsides to having the week off (even if there were a lot of down sides as well) was that in between Brade care I had a lot of extra time to play Diablo. I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit, and have even surprised myself with how adept I’ve become at it. I played through the normal version alone, wanting to enjoy every nook, cranny, barrel, jar of ash, bookcase and loose stone in my own slow, tedious glory. I finished all the way through the story with a Witch Doctor, and then started up a Barbarian on the side.

However, once I finished, I surprised myself by wanted to try the harder modes. Which, really, isn’t something I expected. But about 3/4 of the way through normal, I asked Brade to hold off on Nightmare with his first character (a demon hunter) until I could catch up, so that we could co-op. And so we trucked through Nightmare together, adding a third in our co-op for the last two acts. I didn’t really feel that the difficulty had ramped up that much, and I really enjoyed the second play through. I even threw caution to the wind and started to venture my way into the Auction House a little bit. By the end of Nightmare, I found myself excited to venture into Hell. Again, something of a surprise to me.

On Saturday, we finished out Nightmare and started Hell. I’ve been running this build with my Witch Doctor, through all of Act 1 Hell, and it’s been working out for me fairly well. I’ve been debating giving up one of my passives for Pierce the Veil, but I’m undecided as yet. I may also eventually swap out Wall of Zombies of the confusion ability, but I’m liking wall of zombies so far. I will say that Hell is most definitely a step up in difficulty. In fact, I think I’d even say it forces you to re-evaluate the way that you play and requires you to think outside of the box, and I find that fun. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had our ass handed to us by an unexpected elite pack, or how much trouble we’ve gotten into with our (my) obsession for killing every treasure goblin we find.

We intend to start Act 2 Hell tonight, and I find myself excited to see what the difficulty offers as we progress. So far, I’ve enjoyed the curve, and the challenges presented, and I can’t wait to see how everything plays out as we get towards the end of the game. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about Inferno levels of play, but I’ve also heard some fun things about it as well. I never really pictured myself as the player that would venture into that level of play – I’ve never been one to put a game on it’s hardest setting “just because the challenge is there”. So I do wonder if I have the mettle for Inferno. I do think that I will at least try it and see if I can muster up the mettle it would take to finish.

In addition to the Witch Doctor (which I’m loving), I’ve gotten my barbarian about half way through the third act. I’ve really enjoyed plaything this character. There is something very primal and satisfying about smashing in faces with a giant weapon. I can’t explain it, it just feels good! I will probably venture into checking out the wizard next and seeing how it plays out for me. One thing that I think I can say has been great, has been the ability to swap between characters and do something different for awhile. I think that it is refreshing, and has added a good deal of enjoyment to my game. I also think it is a large part of the reason that I’ve decided to try some of the harder difficulties in the game.

Anyhow, I feel like this Diablo brain dump is starting to get a little rambly. It isn’t quite the post I had envisioned when I started writing, but sometimes that happens and you just have to go where the post is taking you. In this case, into the very jumbled, sleep deprived parts of my mind that have been pre-occupied with Diablo!

I know I have been enjoying the game, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you are also playing! Do you like the story? Do you like the game play? How do you feel about the different levels of difficulty?

Posted May 29, 2012 by Beruthiel in Diablo, Off-Topic

Error 37? Eh, I’ve Got Your Customer Service Right Here!   9 comments

I was in the middle of working on a post about Symbiosis when I came across some information regarding Diablo III that was so awesome that I had to stop and share. While everyone in the world has been battling full servers, error 37 and a myriad of other Diablo III launch issues, I wanted to take a minute and highlight a truly amazing step that Blizzard has taken for their Australian clientele. I do not know if you are aware of the troubles that GAME Australia has recently faced, but they have recently (and rather untimely for Australia’s Diablo playerbase) entered into “Administration”. From what I can tell, this is relatively equivalent to Chapter 11 Bankruptcy here in the United States.

It seems that it’s an attempt by the company to enter into re-orginization, and in the process adjust (or erase) many of their debts, so that they can continue operations. What that means is that the company becomes protected from their creditors while an attempt is made to see if the company can be salvaged – or if they need to go into a full on bankruptcy (chapter 7 here in the US) and liquidate/cease to exist. It is not uncommon for a bankruptcy to be assigned a trustee (in this case administrator) to continue the business operations while a company is undergoing a bankruptcy. It is also not uncommon for unsecured creditors to basically have to kiss all or part of their investments, inventory or funds goodbye.

What is so unfortunate in this situation is that everyone who put down any amount of money for a pre-order of Diablo III, be it a reserve amount or a payment in full, fell into the category of an “unsecured creditor” in this circumstance – as the Administrator determined that GAME would not be receiving any copies of Diablo for sale (the reasoning for this makes a lot of sense – the cliff’s notes version is that likely the Administrator is preventing the purchase of any additional assets, or accrual of additional debt, to protect GAME’s current creditors). Unfortunately, what this meant for Australia’s GAME customers is that they were pretty much left in the cold, holding a claim for the funds that they paid, with nary a hope of ever receiving a nickel of it back.

But then Blizzard did something that I honestly cannot say I’ve seen any other third party company do in a Bankruptcy – they stepped up and protected their customers. Or, to put it another way, Blizzard stepped in and cleaned up a giant mess that GAME left for those who pre-ordered Blizzard’s intellectual property from GAME.

We’re aware that some Australian GAME customers have been left out in the cold on what should be the hottest night of the year — the launch of Diablo III. To help with this situation and get these players into the game as soon as possible, we’ve put the following process in place.Australian GAME customers with a valid preorder/prepurchase receipt dated before May 15, 2012 can do the following:1. Purchase the digital version of Diablo III from http://www.diablo3.com now or anytime before May 21, 2012.

2. Download and start playing when the servers go live!

3. Submit your GAME Australia preorder/prepurchase receipt to us before June 30, 2012.

4. Receive a credit from Blizzard, for the amount you paid in advance to GAME Australia for Diablo III. This credit will be applied to the payment method used for the digital purchase.

We’ll post further details here on how to submit your GAME Australia receipt to our customer service team as soon as possible. Stay tuned, and we look forward to seeing you in the Burning Hells!

Basically, what is happening here is that Blizzard is paying GAME’s unsecured creditors who own a claim for any part of the cost of Diablo III. Which means that Blizzard is going to absorb the loss of GAME’s poor business decisions, to ensure that Blizzard’s customer’s aren’t getting the short end of this particular stick. I haven’t done a ton of research on if other companies have taken similar steps in the past – so I cannot say that it is “unprecedented” – but I will say that this is extremely rare. And amazing. Really, really amazing.
 
So the next time you are really angry at Blizzard about something (like not having the smoothest of game launches or nerfing paladins), and you want to accuse them of not caring about their players, I implore you to remember this. Because I am going to straight up say that this is far more than “above and beyond” on Blizzard’s part. I take my hat off to you, Blizzard, and will say that you have gained an innumerable amount of esteem with me.

Posted May 15, 2012 by Beruthiel in Off-Topic

Off Topic: Celebration   5 comments

I am a little distracted this week, so if I seem off or inattentive I apologize in advace. There are a few reasons for this, but I think the largest of them is that I am making a surprise visit home over the weekend. I haven’t been home for probably over six years, so this in and of itself is of some note, but the reason I’m going home is much more important.

You see, roughly seven or so years ago I nudged my mother into going to college. She’d had me very young, and in a time when women attending college were still more an exception than a rule, which meant that even though she really wanted to achieve a higher education, she instead raised a child. She’s always been quite brilliant, so it was easy to talk her into considering that higher education now that her children were all grown up.

I told her to start with just a few courses at the community college, and see how it suited her. Well, it turns out that it suited her quite well. Because after lying down the base course work required, she applied to the college of education at one of the major universities in the area, and the one formally known as the teacher’s university, and received admission. It took her a few years longer than it would your average student, because she continued to work while going to school. But here some seven years later, she is graduating with a college degree.

She excelled at her academics (I’m not surprised) and will be walking with something like a 3.9 GPA. She aced her licensure exam and scored within the top 5% of all people in the country sitting for the exam, something that will be noted on her permanent licensure record. And I am exceedingly proud of her.

And so, come Thursday afternoon, my father will be picking me up at the airport and taking me home. I will be walking in the door, a complete surprise to my mother, and taking her to her graduation. Followed the day after my a celebration I’ve been organizing with my uncle for family to share in her achievements. I can’t wait to see the look on her face.

It also occurs to me that my mom will be sharing this particular graduation celebration with a number of other people who are also reaching milestones in their lives, and that those folks should be lauded as well. So I want to take this moment and congratulate all of you who will be proudly crossing that stage this May. I wish you a bright and fulfilled future!

Posted April 30, 2012 by Beruthiel in Off-Topic

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait   23 comments

Or so I’m told, anyhow. Perhaps I tell myself that just to keep me sane. I mean, I have been digging for the crawling claw for quite some time. I had started to believe that it just did not exist, and it was some cruel joke that WoW Devs were playing with me. Let’s face it, I have enough tiny mosaics to cover an entire pyramid. I have enough emerald eyed cats to put Earnest Hemingway to shame. I have enough scimitars to arm an entire army. So there I was on my 238th Tol’vir solve today. Not expecting anything special, perhaps a map, maybe sand castle, and there it was!

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I may, or may not, have screamed as if I’d just found Ed McMahon at my front door advising me that I’d just won the publisher’s clearinghouse sweepstakes. It may, or may not, have cause Brade to say “could we stop screaming now” (hey! it’s not my fault he’s a downer!). But there is was. All mine, with only 150 fragments. Unfortunately I had errands to run before the raid, and I went into the raid a mere 19 fragments short of my prize. But don’t worry – I was right back digging in the dirt the second we finished (and the elation when my 150th fragment hit my bags was almost enough to make me forget the pain of our ~30% spine wipe).

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And just in case you didn’t already know, the claw is a fun interactive pet as well! Check it out!

Needless to say, I will be taking a break from playing in the dirt for awhile. I wish I could say “forever”, but the truth of the matter is that I will likely torture myself a little more to finish out the achievements in the category. :)

Posted March 4, 2012 by Beruthiel in Archeology, Just for Fun!, Off-Topic

Unplugged Part II   2 comments

It was my intention to have this post out earlier, but I caught the plague. Probably from someone on the airplane home, or maybe from Brade who caught it from someone on the airplane home.  Either way, I’ve spent the past three days drowning in tissue, mucinex and OJ while lying on my sofa protesting to anyone who would listen that I was dying. It was fairly miserable and a pretty shitty way to spend the second half of my vacation. I guess at least I was at home and not at the office? I got to be sick without using sick days? Silver linings, right?

Anyhow! Back to more delightful animal photos :)

The first day we were in San Diego, we drove out to the San Diego Safari Park.  It was actually a very cool place that has a heavy focus on conservation and study. We got to see a lot of animals in what is very close to their natural habitat and even some that  are close to extinct, or have been nursed back from extinction at this park.  My only regret is that we got their too late int he day to get to do the segway tour, because that looked like it would have been a lot of fun! Anyhow, here are some pictures (and a video!) from our visit.

I think this is probably my favorite picture from this park, it was almost like this little guy was posing for the shot!
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Read the rest of this entry »

Posted February 11, 2012 by Beruthiel in Off-Topic

Unplugged Part I   3 comments

As I mentioned in my last post, I was taking a short holiday and then upon my return had a decent bit of time off. I had a really good time in San Diego and I am proud to say that I was completely unplugged the entire trip. It was…really good. It was also sunny and 75 the entire weekend that we were there! Brade and I walked around for three days, and were generally so exhausted (and a little sun burnt) by the time we got home we just crashed. A couple of the nights, after dinner, we stopped by and caught a movie. It was a nice break from everything.

Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few of the 600 or so pictures that I took while I was away. These are all from Sea World :)

This one here is my absolute favorite from the trip!
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Read the rest of this entry »

Posted February 8, 2012 by Beruthiel in Off-Topic

Lions and Tigers and Bears (Oh My!)   14 comments

I know that I mentioned awhile back that Brade was taking me on a holiday. Well that time is here and we leave bright and early tomorrow. We will be heading to San Diego with the specific purpose of taking in Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. Upon our return, we have some additional time off to enjoy as well. What you can expect from me over the next week and a half or so is lots of pictures, but perhaps not so much writing. I’m trying to take this time to unplug a bit, relax and sort through my thoughts. I do hope that you understand and enjoy any wildlife that may appear in this space until I’m back :)

Posted February 2, 2012 by Beruthiel in Off-Topic

Fairy Tales   4 comments

I wonder if there is magic in the air lately. Perhaps it’s just in my mind – but I’m doubtful that I’m the only one who has been sprinkled by a touch of fairy dust. Admittedly, I’ve been a devotee of Once Upon A Time, and have found myself hooked on Grimm. But I think I’m probably not the only one, or two separate movie studios wouldn’t be venturing into Snow White’s world.

But that’s okay, I’ve always been a fan of the Fairy Tale. What’s not to love? Good always triumphs over evil, the guy always get the girl, vanquishing evil along the way, and you can’t help but feel good at the end result. I’m sure that you are wondering where I’m going with this. Or maybe not, but I’m going to tell you anyhow. You see, I’ve been suffering some insomnia the past few nights, and last night to try and fight it I queued up Tangled and joined along as Rapunzel journeyed through the outside world. Of course, it was sitting right there in my favorites pile right next to Beauty and the Beast, and I could probably recite either show from memory, I’ve seen them that many times.

But as my sleep addled brain continued to work, and Tangled played on, I started to wonder what it is about the fairy tale that draws in so many people.

Is it the happy ending? Is that what we all ultimately all yearn for? Happily ever after? I mean, obviously the thought has merit and people buy into it, as Disney’s been selling it for almost a century. But is that really all it is or is there something more about the fairy tale that makes little girls, grown women and Julia Roberts playing a hooker dream of being Cinderella?

At first I wondered if it was the escape from reality that makes fairy tales so tantalizing, but the more I thought about it the more I felt that wasn’t really true. I mean, sure, wouldn’t it be divine if everyone had a Prince Charming that would ride up and sweep them away from life’s troubles – I mean even Pretty Woman grasps at this desire. But I wonder if the draw isn’t more the thought that evil can be conquered and overcome, and that’s something that we subconsciously cling to as we navigate our lives.

I’ll admit that as I lie in bed watching Tangled last night I was looking for…something. I’d had a long day. I felt pretty beat up on, and good lord is that high road exhausting. But why is it that when I’m feeling a bit weary, my go to is always some version of the fairy tale? Is it because I want Prince Charming to sweep me away and tell me that all of my problems have been solved?

As we watched this week’s episode of Once Upon A Time, I couldn’t shut up at how deplorable I found the Mayor/Evil Queen. Brade advised me “You aren’t supposed to like her”, to which I naturally responded “well, good! Because I don’t!”. But the bad guy is what drives most fairy tales, when you think about it. Without that evil antagonist, there would be no princess in need of rescue, no realm to save, no children to free from the gingerbread house.

And you know, not only do the bad guys get the best songs, but it’s also very easy to incorporate the people in your life who you dislike or struggle with into those positions. It’s not a big stretch of anyone’s imagination to cast manipulative, difficult people into those roles. And in a way, I suppose it’s a little cathartic – because in the end the bad guy always gets his. And in a world where “good” is keeping your head up and walking the high road and “evil” is hitting below the belt, I suppose it feels good to think that what goes around comes around and think that good always triumphs. Even if that isn’t always true.

Perhaps in looking at this brain dump, my inner-child is screaming to get out, or maybe I just never grew up. And I will admit that if a complete stranger rode up to me and grabbed me, even if he was my Prince Charming, I’d probably mace him, not burst out into song. But in the end, don’t we all desire (and can’t we all see) a little bit of the fairy tale in our lives?

Posted February 1, 2012 by Beruthiel in Brain Dump, Deep Thoughts, Off-Topic

The Hat Shop   4 comments

There is this delicious gelato shop a few blocks from where I work that I love. After I ate the (mostly) healthy lunch that I brought from home today, I decided that I needed some gelato and walked down to get some. Next to the gelato shop is a hat shop. Not a division of a store that sells hats, but a shop that is dedicated to nothing but hats. Every time I walk by it I stop and wonder how a shop that sells nothing but (high-end) hats can stay in business. I mean, I never see anyone in the store, and even though it’s always very rainy in Seattle, you don’t see many people walking around sporting hats.

I remember the first time I went by the shop, and there was the giant Stetson advertisement, and I sort of figured that it mainly sold cowboy hats – and while I didn’t really see a lot of cowboy hats around town, there must be a popular market for them in the Seattle area. Maybe Bill Gates was a huge fan of the Stetson or something. In the window next to the cowboy hats were “old man hats”. You know the ones I’m talking about, with the flat bill and the button that snaps down. My Great Uncle Ray used to favor them when he went out. But then came something I wasn’t expecting. In the window next to the old man hats were some of the most lovely ladies hats that I’d ever seen. I was mesmerized by the array of woman’s hats in the window. (And I had flashbacks of the Disney short, you know, the one with Alice Blue Bonnet and Johnny Fedora).

Anyhow, every time I walk by the hat shop now, in addition to wondering how the shop thrives, especially in this economy, I always look at the ladies hats in the windows. Not only the hats, but the hat boxes. I’ve never had a hat that requires a hat box or has warranted a hat box upon its purchase. In fact, I didn’t even know that hat boxes still existed. But the hats are beautiful and have so much personality and panache.

Today as I walked by the hat shop, I again stopped and looked at the ladies hats in the window. And even though I’ve never really worn hats (unless you count the baseball cap I threw over my bed head on the way to class in college as I was running out the door…), I decided that I’m going to buy a hat from that front window. One that warrants a hat box.

I haven’t picked one out yet, but just because I’ve never worn hats before, doesn’t mean I can’t wear one now. And I intend to wear my new hat gracefully, with personality and panache.

Posted January 11, 2012 by Beruthiel in Brain Dump, Deep Thoughts, Off-Topic

Down Time   14 comments

This post is probably really boring.  Just so you know.  You have been warned.  Feel free to pass it right on by…unless you want tips on how to make the most delicious ham in the world.  Then you should probably read it.

I have really been looking forward to this past week and the one that is in front of me.  Mostly because it meant I had some much needed down time.  In fact, I’ve had even more than I expected this week as we were able to do our first set of mount achievements in just one night.  Which subsequently means that we should be able to do our second mount achievements on Sunday in one night as well.  And that means that after this Sunday I won’t have another main raid for a full week.

I strongly suspect that by next Sunday I will be chomping at the bit going “is it time yet?” as I feel the shakes of raiding withdrawal.  But until that time I’ve been taking advantage of the opportunity to step away a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted November 18, 2011 by Beruthiel in Just for Fun!, Off-Topic

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