Sep 28, 2009

Those "Uh-oh" moments

Pick-up groups or PuGs as they are so affectionately called. We’ve all had to do them at one point or another. On a largely dead server like the Alliance side of Gul’dan it’s really the only way to run five-man content.

We’ve also all been in those groups that make you shudder. The kinds where you know there is going to be a problem, even before you get started. Having tanked through most of my Burning Crusade career and tanked and healed through Wrath, I think I’ve developed a keen eye for sensing and identifying those problems.

So today kiddies, I’m going to share the Jarr perspective. Here are some signs that you might be a problem. If nothing else try not to be this guy or gal.

Lacking cheese heads
In your next PuG take a look at everyone’s buffs. Count how many people have an appropriate “Well Fed” buff from food. If there are not five cheese heads running, then someone is not coming prepared.

Vanilla WoW had some lack luster buff foods. Once you hit Hellfire Peninsula and BC content it gets much better. And Northrend foods are just outstanding. The resources for most are readily accessible from mobs you’re likely to be killing anyway (Nessingwary anyone?).

There is absolutely no excuse for this one. If you don’t have it, then it shows you either roll unprepared or that you don’t care enough about the success of the group to use it. Crunch and munch so that we can crunch a bunch.

"Does anyone have any XYZ?"
Fill in the blanks. This could be buff food, mana or health pots, hunter ammo, or elixirs and flasks. If you can’t keep on hand what you need to run something, then take the time to stock up before you join LFG.

And if you ask for a Fish Feast, you’re likely to get booted. Ironically the people that ask for them the most are ones that have neglected their cooking and fishing altogether. Bring what you need. Keep it on hand at all times. That means buff food, regular food,and water.  If you have a blue bar and no water on hand, you are nine kinds of fail.

"Does anyone have the meters for that fight?"
This shows two problems in my opinion. First it shows you’re probably trying to flex your e-peen. Second, if the meters mattered that much to you, then you'd be running one yourself.

Granted, some people may use them as an appropriate measurement tool. In most PuG cases though those asking are often more of a tool themselves.

Jarr’s meters are easier and require no mods to run. Is the boss dead? If yes let’s move on.

Can I get a summons?
This is a mixed bag but it always irks me. If you’re stuck in old world with a hearth on CD then I can understand (maybe). But if you’ve been sitting in Dalaran for the last 20 minutes I ain’t pulling you in. Make an effort to get there and if you’re not the first two there you’ll get your port. Don’t be lazy.

No buffet or candy dishes
Mages and ‘locks, I’m looking at you. It costs you next to nothing to toss up a table, soul well (candy dish!) or even a portal after a run. Doing something as simple as that sets a positive tone for you in the group. You’ve come prepared and are willing to help everyone out. Not doing so can show you as being cheap, selfish, or just an uncaring SoB. Do the right thing. Toss it down. Now, if people demand such things of you, then do as you will.

Agro! I gots it!
Hunters and rogues – it’s your turn in the barrel. Your threat reduction and distribution abilities (Misdirection and Tricks of the Trade) are there for a reason. Use them. Granted, most Wrath five-man content doesn’t truly need it. On the other hand, everyone loves a smooth run. Tossing a bit of agro gain to the tank can only help. Additionally, remember that it’s a PuG. You may not know the competence of the tank at hand. Everything you can do to help sets you in a better position to succeed and to be perceived as a team player.

"I hope my pants drop!"
Loot. We all want it.  It's probably the reason you signed up to PuG in the first place.  However, this shows that you are focused on a personal end goal rather than the task at hand. Additionally, it’s a bit insulting to assume that they would be yours when there is likely someone else in the group that could use it.  Even more so if it’s a larger upgrade for them. And remember the random number generator is the bane of such things. Generally when that is said in a group, it’s usually a guarantee that it ain’t gonna drop. Damn you, Ingvar the Plunderer!

"How do I get there?"
This one came out of Brewfeast really with Corbin Direbrew being buried in Blackrock Depths. It’s amazing how many PuGs I’ve run on this and how many people didn’t know how to get there.

It makes Jarr sad that so many people have blindly blown past that content. BRD is a lore rich and well constructed instance. I have some pretty epic memories of fights and guild runs in there.

Thank Elune for the Brewfest mole drillers at the start though. Can you imagine if these PuGgers actually had to navigate through BRD and find their way to the bar to do it? I wonder how many even have the Shadowforge key. Hell, how many even know it exists for that matter (let alone know how to get it)?

Jarr’s Motto for PuGgers
In short remember Jarr’s motto. Roll prepared or don't roll at all. You don’t have to come in with best-in-slot gear or break 4k DPS to be a winner in my book. Do your part, do it well, and roll prepared and we’ll get along just fine.

Happy PuG-ing all!  LFM for Direbrew.  I hope my Kodo drops.

Sep 23, 2009

“Make a long, long slice..."

…for a long, long life of health, wealth, and happiness.” A family tradition of sorts. It’s what we in the Jarr clan say when we cut a birthday cake. It’s cheesy and we get strange looks when we (ok, when I) say it outside of our own dining room.
Birthdays. I’m not really a big fan of my own. I always find it a bit self-serving. “Hey come pay homage to the day I entered the world!” Not my thing really. I get more out of my kids’ excitement over my birthday than I do anything else. Otherwise, to me it’s just a day like any other.

Other people’s birthday tend to be a different story though. I look at them largely as my chance to celebrate the fact that this person is part of my life. Admittedly, I’m not the best at remembering them outside of my own. But I think that may change.

My father just had his birthday this week, turning 64. For some reason, after I bought his birthday cards (which I forgot to mail until the day of – again not my strongpoint) I found myself reflecting on that and what that span of time means. In talking to him on his birthday as well it hit me even more.

He’s certainly seen some interesting times. The end of World War II. The Korean conflict. The assassination of John F. Kennedy. He was sent over to Vietnam and managed to return in one piece. He lived through the likes of the Gulf wars and the events of 9/11. He’s seen 12 different presidents in office.

He’s outlived his father by 10 years and younger brother by 12. He’s seen his mother slip away to Alzheimer's disease and stayed by her side the entire time. He’s the sole living grandfather (Pop-pop) to my kids with my wife’s parents having died way too young.

He worked for the same company for 34 years. Despite being under 5’ 6” tall, he always stood proudly and looked the epitome of professionalism. In the brief times I spent with him at work in NYC, it always struck me as ironic at how many 6”+ people looked up to my father in the workplace, all the time having to really look down. He carried himself with pride and attitude than simply garnered genuine respect.

He’s raised two kids. And despite him being his own worst critic, he did it successfully. We didn’t make it easy and it’s still not I’m sure. But he did it. We were never lacking and still are not, despite the hard times and challenges of the mile between us. He gave us long lasting childhood memories. He introduced us to the joys of boating and took us on fantastic vacations all over the Eastern seaboard. Anyone can take a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Block Island. How many people can say the cruised there from NJ?  How many people can say they've ferried through the entire Erie canal lock system?

He’s always been the pillar of strength in our family. Someone needs a hand around the house. Dad is there. Someone has a home improvement project to do. Dad’s there to work and often get injured and keep working. Only Dad would say “I stepped on a nail. It really hurts. I should go to the hospital but I have more work to do.” And he’s always there when it counts. Even at what I perceived as his difficult times, he was the pillar of strength and poise. My uncle, his brother’s funeral stands out most to me. He had lost his brother and still was the person the family turned to for help and support.

My father recently read this site and was a bit surprised that I listed him as one of my idols. I feel that points to a big problem. That I haven’t told him enough what he means to me. That I haven’t said “Thank you” enough for all the things he’s imparted to me. That it isn’t more evident that he is ultimately the man I measure all others against, including myself. No better compliment could be made to me than “You’re just like your father.”

So I find myself looking at birthdays in a new light. They have new importance to me. It’s not a celebration of birth, but of life and how that person has made it all the richer. While I regret that it’s taken this long to realize, I’m grateful to now have this clarity nonetheless.

Thank you, Dad. And happy birthday from your proud son.

Sep 11, 2009

Unexpected Remembrance

Something odd struck me this morning. On the ride into work the radio jockeys were all talking about 9/11 and it really didn’t faze me. Largely because the stories are all the same: each person telling where they were and what they were doing. The thing they most had in common was that they were so distantly removed that it feels like they are simply trying to one up everyone else’s story. Perhaps that’s just my cynical nature though.

The guards outside our office were working in the rain, setting the flags to half-mast. I stopped out of respect as they raised them then went inside, again largely unfazed.

My boss and coworker were briefly talking about their respective “where I was” and I nodded and put on my headset to settle down to work.

It was something simple and unexpected that struck home. One of the reports each I run each morning has the full report date printed on the page. It has 9 report dates spelled out: “September 11, 2009.” Then all of the memories of that day and week come rushing back.

I’m not going into my personal memories of where I was and what I did, because as I mentioned I think it’s largely one-up-manship. It’s best that we find our own ways or remembering, honoring, mourning, or even just surviving.

There is one thing that I do remember and I always will. I vividly remember five days later, after much of the initial turmoil had settled and new discoveries and rumblings were just beginning. I remember sitting listening to the radio; all ears in the room listening to President Bush address the nation. I remember looking around that nursery at Abington Memorial Hospital, to the nurses attending other newborns infants while still intently listening to his words. I remember my wife sitting in the rocking chair nursing our fussy little newborn.  I had a son. I had a family. In that moment, I felt incredibly grateful to have been largely unaffected by the tragedies of 9/11.  That feeling is what came back to me once again in reading “September 11, 2009.” We were alive and we were well. And in the larger scope of things, that’s all that really mattered.

Sep 4, 2009

Daddy plays no favorites

Ok guys, it’s been a while since we’ve all sat down and talked, but I think it’s long overdue. The in-fighting between you three has become all but unbearable. And while you are responsible for your own actions, I must admit that the lack of this conversation to this point is also largely responsible for it. For that I apologize. But we must make amends and thus that means setting the record straight on a few things.

First and foremost, I do not play favorites with any one of you. You are all incredible parts of my life. You all came into my world in your own way and with your own unique stories and circumstances. Your arrivals we not always entirely planned, but all three of you little bundles of joy were the start of something incredible. You remain so today. My loves for you three are just as unique as each of you. So I can honestly say that I love you all differently, but I love you all unarguably equally.

Having said that, I must admit my time has not been as equally shared with you all. And while it’s certainly not a justifiable excuse, it’s been a difficult time for me. Daddy’s new love has taken up a lot of my time lately, and so I feel it’s only fair that I explain why. Our relationship has been a rocky one – very often on again / off again. So I felt it necessary to spend the time and effort to solidify that relationship and get it on more stable ground. It’s certainly put added and unneeded pressure on our once tight little family. But I think that we are now in a place where that relationship will not need as much of my time anymore. As such I will be renewing my efforts to make time for you all. I’ll not just share my spare time with you. I will go out of my way to MAKE time for you. Again, you are my loves and my passions in life. It’s regrettably taken a lot for me to recognize this, but I feel it’s not too late. For that I am glad.

My eldest, you above all the others have felt this absence most I fear. I still remember the times before all this turmoil that I created. We would stay up late together and play long into the midnight hours…often beyond. We’d laugh, we’d cry, we’d cheer and sneer. We shared glorious victories and agonizing defeats. Even now I’ve by far spent the most time with you in total, but you have certainly been the most time neglected in recent times. Despite how you may feel to the contrary (which I can see in how you look at me every now and again) you are still much beloved and I know there are good times to be had once again and shared with the kids. We’ve built a good legacy of long lasting memories together. It’s one I think that you can help me build with your brother and sister.

My middle child, brother of my eldest. I know that you feel that you have to compete with your elder sibling. Let me tell you flat out that you don’t. While I believe that you can achieve the same levels of success and excellence that your brother has reached, I do not expect you to be the same. I do not compare what he is capable of and what you are capable of and judge you for your differences. Instead I embrace and adore all that makes you unique. You feel unproven I’m sure, and I think that it largely because I’ve not paid enough attention to you and what you can do. I promise that we will be spending much more time together. I am making it my vow to you now that we will find good times and our own shared and beloved legacy. In that you and your brother are indeed the same. But those treasures we discover and create along the way will be uniquely ours.

To you, my youngest. When you first arrived, I must confess, I was scared. Everything I thought I knew was turned upside down. The standards of controls that I had so firmly learned and perfected over the years went right out the window the day you arrived. While the rest of the family embraced you, I tried to do the same. But I let my fear, uncertainties, and the biases toward the comfortable past get the better of me. On the surface you are so different from your older siblings. But now I can see that there is also much the same. I should have recognized your greatness and potential earlier. After all, you do come from a long line of established and successful predecessors. Your heritage runs long, deep, and strong. I see it now and I hope you will realize that I have much to learn...we have much to learn together. I look forward to whatever exciting and refreshing experiences we can share.

So there it is guys. To put not too fine a point on it, I've neglected you. Plain and simple. It's a mistake I regret but one that I promise to make amends for. I vow this to each of you: to you my beloved PS2, to you my impassioned PS3, and to you my quirky young Wii. Warcraft is important to me, as are all of you. So I must make time to show you each my love.

I’m glad we’ve had this time together. I hope you feel as good as I do. It's a first but important step I feel.  So, who wants to play som...

Hold on guys. I’ll be right back. The kids are screaming and crying and carrying on about God only knows what. There’s always something, isn’t there?