Nov 10, 2011

Touched and remembered

This for some reason always touches my heart. Today marks the anniversary of the tragedy Edmund Fizgerald back in 1975. So today I find myself listening to the famous song over and over. It’s partially because I like its haunting tone and beautifully crafted lyrics. But there is something deeper.

I certainly wasn’t old enough to remember the events – I was only four years old at the time. But it’s something deeper. When I was a teenager, my Dad volunteered with the Coast Guard Auxiliary in and around the Manasquan River waterways in central NJ. It always gave me a sense of awe when I considered what they did. Most of the time it was saving idiotic and irresponsible boaters from their own stupidity, often pulling the ignorant joy riders out of the shallows that they impaled their shinny new speedy vessels upon. Others times it was towing the simply unfortunate boaters with engine problems back to dock. All with a smile, and perhaps with a smirk.

Dad always taught us to respect what a boat and – more importantly – what Mother Nature can do. In essence, “When in doubt, bring her about.” Dark clouds looming-- back home. Traffic getting heavier in our typical water ski lanes – back to shore. I may be a reckless driver in my car at times, but never in a boat. My Dad’s lessons and volunteer example always stuck with me.

Now consider the Coast Guard. They go out when everyone stays put. They risk their lives to save those unfortunate souls that to get stuck in Calypso’s wrath. That’s what sticks with me about the Edmund Fitzgerald.

They were simple sailors out to do their jobs. They lost their lives in an unfortunate and extraordinary event. The details are still somewhat of a mystery, but still no less tragic. Maritime events like this resonate with me – out of awe, out of fear, and out of respect.

So take a listen to the song as Gordon Lightfoot sings you a tale of pride and tragedy. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a way to connect with the fear and bravery that those 29 men felt on the turbulent waters of Lake Superior not so long ago.

Apr 11, 2011

Holy Rollin'!

Think back before the Dark Portal reopened. Back when Rag’ and Nef’ were the be all end all. Now think about the Burning Crusade and even in to early Wrath. Good memories, eh?

Now ask yourself if you would roll and level as a holy priest or priestess during those times. I’d be right up there with you saying "No way," remembering how poorly equipped to level a pure holy spec was.

Now though, with so much more at our disposal it’s a much different World of Warcraft.

I roll how I play. I play how I roll.
First, a bit of perspective. Even with the introduction of dual specs, I intended to roll my priest as holy. I just feel that I get a better understanding of the nuances of the spec if it is what I am constantly in. I prefer not to switch between specs and try to adjust to two learning curves simultaneously.

So the first 20 levels or so were a bit painful. My wands got a rediculous amount of usage, which is sadly unique to priest leveling it seems. Once I had a decent feel for the class and an ok caster set -- somewhere around level 27 or so -- I started queuing in the LFG tool as a healer.

Elune be praised!
Levels have never gone by so fast. I could manage almost a full level per instance. On my priest I have by far the fewest flight paths. Why? Because I’ve never had to set foot very far out of Stormwind. In fact I’ve leveled from 27 to 44 almost entirely through the LFG tool. You might not think so but It is refreshing actually, because after having done the Loremaster achievement on my druid main, the prospect of questing again (especially through the tedious 40s and 50s) does not appeal to me much.

And my gear gets some fairly regular updates. I try not to be greedy, rolling on only true upgrades. And it’s nice to be in predominantly blues for a change. But why is it so damn hard to find a wand upgrade? Hey Bliz! How about an heirloom wand next?

Alliance rep is also now sickeningly easy with the inclusion of the faction tabards.

Oh and a floating priestess is just awesome! Gotta love Levitate. “BEHOLD THE POWER OF THE GODESS!”

Holy sacrifices
LFG leveling isn’t all roses and gold though.

First my professions suffer. On my other flower children, herbing was effortlessly easy. But on the priest, my herbalism takes a concerted effort to level since I’m not out in the zones questing. It is further compounded by difficult travel as I have very few flight paths. Even the level 40 “epic” mount upgrade doesn’t really lessen that pain enough.

Enchanting has been decent, though it is one I doubt I will keep. It's startng to become tedious again.  I will more likely switch over to a alchemy once I transfer her over to Wildhammer with the rest of the Jarr-heads.

Finally, you do run the same things with some disturbing frequency, especially at the higher vanilla levels. I’m quite tired of Dire Maul already, though Scholomance is still one of my all time favorites.

Healing ain’t so scary
My biggest fear was actually jumping in and being a competent healer. Having done decently on the druid and ok as a Wrath resto shaman, I wasn’t too worried. But coming in as a lowbie priestess with largely single target heals was intimidating. To those of you feeling the same way, here is my advice. Just do it! Remember the truly epic words of Patrick Swayze as Brody “Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.”

It’s not that hard. It just takes attention to detail and a willingness to triage. Plus a few tools will make this much less intimidating.

First, set up some mouseover macros for all of your healing / resto abilities. For example here are a few from the priestess:
/cast [target=mouseover,help,nodead] Renew

Second, set your key bindings to be convenient. I’m not much of a configuration freak in this regard. I’d rather play than try to learn a whole new key set. Just be sure that your most used and most important abilities are tied to your most easily reached keys. For example on the priest I have Heal bound to “1”, Flash Heal to “2” , Renew to “3” ,Shield to “4”, and Greater Heal to “5”. Ideal for all players? Probably not, but it works for me. Find what works for you and roll with it.

Third, get a couple of add-ons that track your buffs and healing. I love Grid because it’s highly configurable and allows you to have your entire party / raid in one convenient frame. Plus it makes those mouseover macros even more potent.

Power Auras is another that I swear by, though I use it more on my other characters than this one currently.

Queuing Healer LFG
So I continue my trek, the Dark Portal beckoning on a not-too-distant horizon. Once I hit 51 I’ll be moving ‘Angel here over to Wildhammer (cursed gold limits) to rejoin my Calvary cronies. Perhaps there she will continue to find some competent groups to healbot.

“Healer LFG for randoms. No fatties.”

Apr 3, 2011

Sometimes it's something simple

This made me laugh out loud when I found t`his on my Blackbery this morning.  It's the simple things in life we have to enjoy the most sometimes.

Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" played on the Iowa State University carillon

Oct 28, 2010

Because eight isn't enough

Likely much to my WoW mentor's dismay, I've once again made the trek through the stagnant 50s, plowed through the Outland 60s, and boosted through Northrend to have my nineth level 80. Jarramond the Warrior now joins my ranks of level 80 Jarrheads.  DING! GRATS! WOOT?

Some might ask why, especially given that the expansion is right around the corner. A few reasons jump to mind. First, why not? There was little else to do in the game. Our guild's raiding has been effectively halted as most are burned out on it. It’s disappointing because we had a great and fun Friday night group assembled, but it's certainly understandable.

Second, I realize that leveling is something I really enjoy. It’s tedious at times, but I like the challenge of seeing if I can do it better, faster, more efficiently. 

And to that end, the new LFG tool is SERIOUSLY overpowered. My old manner of leveling in Northrend would have me do the two starter zones (Fjord and Tundra) first. I just like the quests there. Skip the Grizzly Hills and move on to Dragonblight. Finally wrap up in the Basin and usually will ding 80 there. With the LFG tool and a toon in all possible heirlooms (sans ring) and it’s a different story all together. By way of comparison, I had hit 77 before even completing the Tundra.

So now it’s a self-imposed fun race against the expansion. Can I get yet another Crusader title before the sundering? Can I get a full tier 9 DPS set for him before the Earth Warder tears his entity apart? Can I get him all the Northrend reps to Exalted before we all burn?  It’s not so much a question of needing to do these things, but rather a wondrous sense of what might be possible.

Then again, I do have a lonely  level 23 priest sitting in Ashenvale. Pehaps...LFG anyone?

Update:  Crusader -- check!  Full Tier 9 and decent weapon -- check!  Northrend exalted -- check!  It was fun getting it all done within a tight window.  On the other hand with 1 main and 8 alts all pretty much geared how I want them (I love full sets) now I sit here wondering "Now what?"  Fun run nonetheless.

Sep 13, 2010

Interview time... /Gulp!

Time to buckle down and dust off those interview skills! I've landed an an assessment interview for a new position within our company. New realm of responsibility, completely new department, entirely new works away from the contact center focused career I've had so far. Plus a promotion and pay bump to boot: bonus!

It's both exciting and nerve wracking. But interviews are all about preparation.  I know how to get ready.  Nonetheless, wish me luck all.

"Can you tell me about a time when you..."

Update 9/16:  Took the initial assessment which was basically a spelling and proofreading test today.  No interview scheduled yet but hopefully we'll have that all set within the next few days.  Step one:  complete.

Update 9/21:  An excerpt from an e-mail from our HR department...
"Thank you for posting for the position of ...

At this time the hiring department has decided to move forward with other applicants and will no longer be pursuing your candidacy. We do appreciate your interest in the position and your desire to further your career objectives."

Guess I'll keep looking.  Kind of disappointing because I really thought the department's work was truly interesting and could renew my interest and enjoyment of my job.  But for now it seems, back to the grind.

Jul 27, 2010

Heroes, to Arms! Defend the Skybreaker!

This is just way too cool.

Oh and...

We stand with you, Brann Bronzebeard!
For the Child King! Long live Anduin!

Jul 9, 2010

Take a look over there...

Regardless of where you stand on the RealID debate, I strongly suggest you read the article below.  It's an excellent read and I think it captures the feelings that most of us have on the subject.

Shades of Grey: An Open Letter to Blizzard (Internet Dragons)

"Someone save that tree before the internet dragon kills it"