Blogging Challenge Day 11: My Flaws (or: Gauze)

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I think you’ll understand after reading today’s blog entry why I’ve been avoiding this subject. Well, no more avoiding things. On with Day 11 of the Blogging Challenge – today’s topic: My Flaws.
 
Writing about your own foibles can be tough, but I don’t want to shy away from the topic. I could write about something in-game such as how I keyboard turn (gasp), or I could pretend I’m in a horrible job interview and say my biggest flaws are “working too hard and being too much of a perfectionist.” But those seem like copouts to me. So I’m going to write about two closely related flaws. Warning: this is going to get personal.
 
Flaw 1: I procrastinate. I’m not talking about small things here, like waiting too long to take out the trash (although, I occasionally do that too – the recycling does need to go out). No, I’m specifically talking about waiting on larger things. I want to travel and explore places I’ve never been. I want to go back to places I haven’t been in years and rediscover the past through my older eyes. I want to see shows – concerts, the symphony, spoken word, Cirque du Soleil – anything and everything. I want to go to fantastic restaurants and run down the tasting menu, taking my time with each plate. I want to see friends and rebuild relationships and spend time with people. I want to write. Some in public, like in this blog, but mostly in private – just for me and maybe a few others I trust. I want to express myself through words and record the stories and thoughts I’ve had floating around for years but never “found the time” to work on. But right now, I’m doing none of those things (well, okay, I’m writing – it’s a start).
 
Why haven’t I done these things? To be fair to myself, I’ve done some of the above. But for every opportunity I’ve taken, three others have passed by. Excuses abound – it’s so easy to not make time to do things. I’ll wait until I have more vacation time. Ticket prices will come down soon. No good seats are available. I can go see that band next year. And the big reason: it’s easier not to. It’s easier to sit down on the couch, get on my laptop, log on to WoW, and watch TV. I feel as if I’ve been living a life wrapped up in gauze, not feeling anything beyond hoping Omar gets away and Dexter takes care of the season’s big bad. I don’t want to be wrapped up any longer. I want out. And with this new year starting, I will stop giving power over to everything else and letting life pass by. I don’t expect to have full control over where my life goes. As John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” But, at least I’ll start to act on those wishes and dreams I’ve always had.
 
Flaw 2: I wear my heart on my sleeve. I learned a few years ago that I have very little control over my body language and other non-verbal cues, so it’s easy to know how I’m feeling, even if you don’t know me that well. And I feel deeply. When something affects me, it can take over my thoughts, whether positive or negative. I’m not a man who can shut off his emotions and refuse to feel. I envy the people who have the ability to deal with personal trauma and through will power don’t let it affect them. That’s certainly not me. After a period of introspection lately, I realize what I’ve done instead (see Flaw 1) is put myself in a situation where I don’t have to feel. I live in gauze because it’s easier. If I don’t give anything the chance to reach me, I never have to worry about the lows. I’m never disappointed, because I never look forward to anything.

 

But – and this is the crux – I also never experience the highs. And as of now, I’m done avoiding. In 2012, I’m going to travel – Las Vegas, New York, Europe (Greece sounds perfect). I’m going to go to shows. And I’m going to go to amazing restaurants. No more excuses; no more waiting. I’m going to let myself experience highs, and yes, I’ll experience lows as well. But at least I’ll be living. It’s been too long.

All in Good Fun?

Although I attended Blizzcon in 2011, I did not attend the closing ceremony. Frankly, I’m glad I didn’t, since the Corpsegrinder video would have bothered me. For those of you who haven’t read about that controversy, go check out some links. I’ll wait for you.

Welcome back! When discussion of the content of the closing ceremony picked up steam, I didn’t have much to say that wasn’t said better by many others.  Two things stood out to me, though.

First, I read a few tweets regarding the ceremony asking why there was such an uproar over someone trash-talking the Alliance. I was a bit thrown by that take on the events. When I saw them, I did my best to explain the issue wasn’t Alliance bashing, the problem was Blizzard’s tacit endorsement of Corpsegrinder’s homophobic, pejorative language. My responses fell on deaf ears, as the conversation continued about how people are too sensitive and that the game is set up to be faction vs. faction.

Second, in the initial “apology” post by the band, these two sentences particularly bothered me: “The Corpsegrinder bit was never intended to be taken seriously. We are sorry that we offended anyone; everything at our shows is just meant in fun.” The implication here is that if you are offended by the things they said, you are at fault for taking it too seriously.

Those events transpired a month and a half ago, and I wouldn’t be bringing them up again, if it weren’t for a similar situation that took place yesterday. A fairly well-known blogger and podcaster whom I’ve followed fairly closely (but will no longer) tweeted about recruiting a work friend of his to play World of Warcraft. He recounted the story of his friend choosing to roll Horde after asking, “Why are Alliance so gay looking?” That in itself is cringe-worthy, using “gay” as a negative adjective, but it didn’t stop there. Further references (not quotes of his friend this time) followed: “dancing nancies” and “prancing… fairies” were two of the “milder” ones. There were several that went much further, but I do not feel comfortable quoting those on my blog.

Okay, fine. This guy’s a homophobic tool. But why write about one person’s tweets? Well, the answer to that comes in the tweets after. Here are two examples:

“I guess I’m held to a higher standard than others, even when it’s common knowledge I hate an Alliance (sic) all the time.”

“People just get butthurt instead of going with the fun of talking trash.”

See a connection here? Similar verbiage, both in the original messages (video/tweets), and the attempted justification that followed. In both cases, Alliance-bashing is thrown out as a straw man, when that wasn’t the issue. In both cases, the excuse “it’s all in good fun!” is put out there. Finally, both use the same technique to deflect blame on the offended rather than accept wrongdoing themselves.

To be very clear here: the issue lies in the homophobia and slurs. This isn’t good fun, it’s divisive speech, and the intent does not matter. The blame lies squarely on the offender, not the offended. Also, don’t get this confused with a free speech issue. Corpsegrinder and the blogger can say whatever they like. But we can judge them for doing so, and we can judge Blizzard for giving the former a platform. Say whatever you want. But realize if you say bigoted things, people will call you a bigot.

I am not suggesting I think Blizzard is responsible for this individual’s bigotry. I’d bet he had his beliefs set well before he started playing. What I am saying is that Blizzard sets a tone of what is acceptable in the game and in the larger community. When Blizzard tolerates these views, gives them a platform, and is slow to react when their player base expresses legitimate issues, they are perpetuating those views. Blizzard needs to implement and adhere to a zero tolerance policy, or we can expect similar things to happen. You know, all in good fun.

Blogging Challenge Day 10: Blog and Website Favorites

Day 10 of the great Blogging Challenge! Today’s topic: Blog and website favorites. This is going to be a tough one; there are so many great blogs and websites out there! In order to avoid driving myself crazy thinking about possibilities, I’m going to group this into two categories: rogue resources and blogs I can’t get enough of. I’m going to keep the lists to three each, and there are any number of others that keep me tied to my seat as I read, but I hope you enjoy this selection as much as I have.

 

Rogue Resources:

Elitist Jerks: Thanks to Aldriana, and many informed posters in the rogue forums, elitistjerks.com is an invaluable resource. Specifically, though, raiding rogues must read at least two posts in the forum. First, the thread for their spec: Assassination, Combat, or Subtlety. Second, the Raid Mechanics thread for the current tier will help you determine how to approach a given fight in your raid.

Shadowpanther.net: This is a great site to find out which gear, gems, enchants, etc. are upgrades for your spec, and, in the case of gear, where to get them. When I make a gear sheet, I always verify it with this site. One word of caution: be careful with trinkets. I’d trust the list on the elitistjerks site (look in your spec’s thread) for up-to-date values. This site also covers PvP, which is great to see.

ShadowCraft: This site does a number of things well, although it can be a little tricky to use. First, it will calculate the best gems for you to use in your gear. Second, it allows for quick reforging calculations with a graph for expected theoretical DPS increase. You can also use it to project upgrades. You’re not sure whether to use your new offset gloves and break your set bonus, or downgrade a different piece to retain it? Select one gear set, optimize gems and reforge, and write down the DPS. Repeat with your other gear set(s), and you’ll know whether to roll on that piece in your next raid. Note: they are continually updating this site, particularly around the time of new patches and hotfixes. Make sure to regularly clear out all saved data and shift-reload to get new javascript code, since you don’t want to base gear decisions on outdated information.

 

Blogs I Can’t Get Enough Of: (more…)

Blogging Challenge Day 9: My First Blog Post

Day 9 of the Blogging Challenge! Today’s topic is about my first blog post. It wasn’t that long ago that I started this blog, writing a Mists of Pandaria Rogue Talent Preview. I’d had a few brief attempts at starting a blog before and always ended up stuck on what to say in an “Intro” post. Eventually I realized my problem; introducing myself to readers I didn’t yet have felt weird. So I decided to jump into the deep end and start with something related to the point of my blog – rogue-relevant content. Since I had just been to Blizzcon, and I had strong opinions about the talent preview there for my class, I had a topic, and went with it.

Looking back at it now, I feel good about the entry. Some of my opinions have changed with the release of additional information. The desire for Vendetta to allow you to match melee DPS at range, and the goal to have one damage poison and one utility poison both change which talents I would take and how I would use them, but I plan on letting information solidify a bit more before updating. Especially because the talent calculator put out since contradicts this (Instant and Deadly Poisons still show as critical for Assassination rogues, for instance).

Making that post also changed my mindset in at least two ways. First, since I wrote that, I’ve felt a need to post every few days. That’s a great feeling, because I need that drive to keep the blog current and fresh. Second, I’ve started looking at things I do in-game and WoW news I hear in a different way. I see things through a writer’s perspective: “What could I write about here?” “What is interesting about this?” “Is there anything that gave me trouble that I could help others out with?” Asking those questions as I’ve experienced the game has given me some good posts and even more post ideas.

I’m glad I made that first post; I hope I don’t make my last for a very long time.

Blogging Challenge Day 8: Ten Things You Don’t Know About Me

After a short Day 7 entry of the 20 Days of Blogging Challenge,  this will be a longer entry. Today’s topics is things you don’t know about me. Since my blog started fairly recently, that’s fairly easy, but I’ve tried to pick things not related to Warcraft as they’re unlikely to come up very often in future blog entries. So, without further ado, here’s my list:

 

1. I love air hockey. I have my own full-sized table and have competed in tournaments; I even won a division trophy at nationals a few years back.

2. I have way too many collections. A non-exhaustive list of things I have too many of: books by Isaac Asimov (120+), chess books (200+), DVD’s (2200+ titles, twice that in discs), CD’s (3500+). Thankfully, we’re in the digital age so most of the actual media can be packed away in the attic.

3. I was really, really good at chess when I was a kid. My elementary school system had a robust chess program, and I took full advantage of it. Every few years, I study up and get better, but I’ve settled into the very high C, low B range lately. When I was in college, I volunteered at the local elementary school as a chess coach; that was a rewarding way of giving back.

4. I researched baseball statistics heavily for a number of years, participating in online communities devoted to making baseball statistics more widely available. My biggest personal contribution dealt with capturing the order of players’ tenure with teams before and after mid-season trades, and enabled major sports sites to display their data in correct chronological order. I also spent some time working for MLB.com keeping score for their backend feed.

5. I’ve had the same personal e-mail address since 1996. At this point, most of my online accounts are set up using it, so I’d be in big trouble if that ISP went out of business.

6. I’m a bit of a hardware and software geek. My day job deals with software development, although I don’t do any for pay these days. At home, I have two storage servers, running Debian Linux and hardware RAID. I’ve also run Cat-6 to every room in my house, so I can access those servers from anywhere.

7. The best night of my life was seeing U2 play in Dublin. I’ve seen them play ten times (maybe more, I’m losing track at this point), but the atmosphere in Dublin was electric, and I was practically on stage. Here’s a picture I took there:

 

My View of U2 in Dublin

 

8. I love lists. I checked the Book of Lists (and its companion volumes) out of the library when I was a kid, and I have been hooked on making my own ever since. Two examples:

Saddest Songs of All Time: Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday), Julia (The Beatles), Brick (Ben Folds Five).

Movies That Were Well Made That I Never Want to See Again: Requiem for a Dream, House of Sand and Fog (what are you doing to me, Jennifer Connelly?), Boys Don’t Cry, Revolutionary Road.

9. My favorite video game of all time is Banjo Kazooie. I like it for some of the same reasons I like WoW – each level is a new world, and you gain new abilities as you progress. It’s one of the few games I’ve ever completed.

10. I used to debate in college on nationally-ranked teams, and I miss it. Similar to my experience with chess, I coached a HS debate team while I was student teaching and had a blast helping them get better.

 

So there you go – now you know more about me. If you have any of the same interests, or if you have your own entries for the lists under bullet point 8, I’d love to hear them!