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The Sleeper has Awakened

09/12/2017 Comments off

Entry 09/12/2017 11:00:45 AM – Mentat 1246

It’s been quite a while since I’ve actually posted much of anything public. Heck, the last time I think I did, it was either my annual examination which I remember vividly I positively despised going through (there’s still moments where I don’t exactly remember what I was doing through the remainder of the day after the anesthesia) or the time I was questioning my continued career in Information Technology. With the former, I’m looking forward to my annual next month, although fortunately for me, there will neither be a proctology examination nor a prostate examination. That will be saved for another few years of which I guarantee I will be saying no to. There’s only just so much of that pre-prep that I want to go through; and what I still vividly recall wasn’t remotely “fun”. I also know my doctor isn’t going to be happy with me. While I’ve gotten back into the swing of things about walking 10,000 steps a day, it was only started this month, so not only am I more than a lot out of shape, but the lethargy as caught up with me.

But that’s something I know that I can weather.

The primary reason why I’m writing is the fact that tomorrow is going to be my 38th anniversary for coming out of the closet. Yeah, I’m still going on strong about being that sort of presence — although it’s often far from the community at large. Since my grandmother’s “gift” has struck me a couple of years ago, it often feels more like the father confessor for anything someone might have on their mind if they see me and decide to open up. Sometimes it’s about sexuality or sexual identity. Sometimes it’s about the plight of the homeless looking for a handout or a suggestion on where to go. Most times it’s about the frustration in local government. I don’t mind any of it really; for as long as I can do what I want to do after those moments, I’m perfectly all right with the interruptions.

While I won’t be able to have a beer (or a six pack as it used to be), thanks largely to the hypertension medicines I’m on, I will be enjoying a bit of Chocolate and Almond Ice Cream tomorrow night instead. What can I say? You might take the club-kid wannabe out of me, but my love of chocolate is still more than happily going strong.

As I said, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things with the walking, but that’s because I’m also (finally) working an assignment at one of the regional banks working the Unix tickets and streamlining the process of the batch files attached to the centralized servers. While I don’t have the coding experience for the batch scripting and having to rely on another of the full time coders that’s attached to another team, I can use my skills from Helpdesk along with managing a team (so to speak) to getting things done. This project is supposed to last a year, but I’m not entirely sure whether I will be able to get it past six months given that it would take that long for me to learn how to code like the contact I have within the company.

It definitely pays well and I should be able to get a stipend going with it by the time I’m through with the contract/assignment.

I also did a massive faux pas on my first day of work. Went with the confirmed business casual approach to dressing for the contact and decided to wear the pair of shoes I used to wear at Lifespan when I was working the floor for at least the last six months I had been working there. Thought they had been broken in as I never had a problem wearing them and walking around the massive office through the night. I think I wore them once walking home from the bus-stop over a weekend and while there was a bit of discomfort, I thought I remembered that happening closer to the time that I first bought them.

Walked to Kennedy Plaza with them and by the time I got to the Hilton (the old Holiday Inn at the corner of Atwells and the on-ramp to 95, the back of my feet were already bleeding. Completely tore up the back of my ankles by the end of the day making the next two weeks of walking to and from Kennedy Plaza completely painful. The back of my left ankle seems to have taken the worse and while it still hurts more than a little, at least I’m able to walk near to my usual pace without feeling like I’m agony making the attempts.

Since the last time I’ve written, I’ve befriended a gay men in the area (hell, within a mile of my neighborhood) which I was fortunate he was understanding of my anti-social tendencies through the summer this year. It’s been fun getting together every couple of weeks (well months, but this will be changing in the next week now that it’s going into autumn) chatting about this and that… Like two old men comparing notes about anything we can think about. There’s moments where it gets a bit rough as he’s definitely attracted to me, but can’t say the feeling’s mutual (remotely). At least he doesn’t press the issue too often and it hasn’t reached the point where I would want to run away and keep distance from that feeling of desperation. At least the good news is that it gets me out of the house routinely enough that I’m not going stir-crazy with Moe.

I’ve also been in touch with a friend from Rhode Island that I haven’t heard from in more than a decade. Originally I met and befriended him around 25 years ago, but shortly after breaking up with Darin and moving south, we sort of lost touch with each other. Then while I was living in Ormewood Park (or was it just as I was moving to Druid Hills), he reached out to me briefly before losing touch again. He’s currently living on the West Coast and in spite of his saying that he’s bad at keeping in touch, he’s doing better this time around. Would like to see how this continues to go.

Speaking of Moe, that good old codger of a cat has become more skittish than ever. Runs and hides under the slightest provocations, sometimes for hours at a time. Eventually he’ll either come out from under the bed, or out of the closet (depending on where he decided to hide) and act as though nothing’s happened to cause him to bolt.

He’s also become even more talkative than Cricket ever was. Seems to like hearing the sound of his own voice more than Cricket ever did and will talk to me from the time I get back home from work, to following me to the sink area for a treat, to even just prior to going to bed at the end of the day. It’s not as though there’s anything wrong with him; when I pick him up and walk around the house, he stops mewing at me. Or when we’re falling asleep he’ll quiet down quickly enough and eventually pass out as I do. It’s just that he seems to like talking is all.

Finally, I’m still happily gaming during my down time. While I might not be playing Star Trek: Online as much now as I used to a year ago, when I do play it, it’s more in a maintaining action than anything. Even though I’m a lifetime subscriber, the game simply doesn’t have the quality of replayability I expect it to have. This might change soon or it might not but as I said… Maintaining action.

Warframe has also sort of taken a back seat as of late since I’ve completed the star map as well as collect/scan all the Cephalon Fragments on all the planets. Now that I’m through with those, as I was thinking earlier, I’m going to need to set myself up some new personal goals for the coming sessions. Whether this is going to be to complete all the missions/side quests that I still have in the queue, work on the various weapons & warframes for my Mastery Rank, get involved in the Trials and Sorties more, or even more relic farming/cracking remains to be seen.

Next month I’m coming up on my one year anniversary with Elite: Dangerous. And like I’ve said to friends time and time and time again: with that game I maintain this love-hate relationship with the physics of that game. I tried getting involved with a player group and later the various streamers and denizens from the player group that could be found on Twitch, but quickly butted heads with one person that accused me of doing something that I wasn’t remotely doing. Apparently I accused him of lying.

The main problem with this is I don’t mince words when it comes to accusing anyone of anything. If I think them I liar, they’ll know it the instant I open my mouth or type my thoughts. If anything I normally defer to their experience as they tend to be with a game longer than I’ve been. However, when he passed summary judgement on what I was saying — which I refuted the entire time — it turned into that ever annoying feminine minefield of, “well you must be calling me a liar” and then took action accordingly.

So I divorced myself from the player group within the first month (of my joining the group) and the first head-butting with this individual, and a day after the time he accused me of calling him a liar. To date I haven’t been back and I don’t recommend anyone playing E:D to checking them out, with the exclusion of someone that I still deeply respect. Heh, the same person that recommended me to join their group. Even then it’s usually sparingly given that person I butted heads with also goes to his channel.

I’ve been making a few casual friends within the game and apparently from the E:D sits Inara. There’s been no pressure to join any other user groups, and those that I chat with in game or Inara are decent enough folk to be hanging around with. I haven’t winged-up with any of them, but I’m sure that when I get back into the Bubble from this deep space exploration mission, they will more than happily do so.

And that’s my life in a nutshell. I’m still alive. I’m not being creative (but that might be changing shortly), and I’m doing well for everything that’s not been going on with my life. I’m usually around… Lurking. So if you find a way to chat with me, hit me up. I’ll listen and put in my two cents.

Until the next time.

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Middle-Age and Exams? Pfft, I’ve had my fill…

11/02/2016 Comments off

Entry 11/02/2016 08:00:45 AM – Mentat 1204

Welcome to Babylon 5, the last best hope for a quick buck.” – Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5

While I’m not sure whether or not this entry’s going to be going out to the world, I think that quote is rather apropos for at least one of the subjects that I’m going to be covering in this entry.  However, as I’m sitting here breakfasted, caffeinated — mostly, more to explain there — and the happy little Hell-beast is up on the desk gingerly flicking its tail, I’m wondering how to approach everything in an orderly fashion…  Yeah, the usual sort of chaos that comes from the fact that there’s much to cover in the wide, wide world of the Baldelli Homestead.

My annual physical has come and gone.  I’ve gained about 17 pounds mainly due to laziness and more than unusual intake of junk food in the form of chips, crackers and candy.  So much so that after the blood work had been processed, the doctor’s office called me to tell me the usual that my sugar’s a little high and the unusual that my triglycerides are of a concern and that I should change my diet a bit more.  Yeah, sure no problem there.  So at the time of this entry, I’ve cut out all sorts of junk foods from chips to crackers to anything that would be chocolate (yeah, that part’s killing me at the moment, but at least the jonesing hasn’t really started yet).  Instead, I’ve been doing my best trying to eat more healthy snacks — raw fruits and vegetables, less pastas and that sort of thing.

I’ve also cut down on my caffeine intake with my morning coffee, either picking up decaf iced coffee if I’m out of the house or drinking half-caf when I’m lounging about the house in the morning.  While my sleep might be a bit knackered if only because of other influences — like middle-aged — at least I’m learning that if I’m working I need 7½ of sleep a night and when I’m not working 6½ is more than adequate.  At least the good thing is that I’m more than happy about mid-afternoon naps when I can have them just in case.

Oh yeah, and thanks to the more temperate autumn, I’m more than happily picking up my habit of walking at least 3 miles (4.8 Km) during the afternoon.  The good thing about this is that couple this with both quick galivants in the morning and the usual walking of my mother’s Monster Child™, I can average more than 10,000 steps in the day; which I’m sure my doctor’s going to be happy about the next annual checkup.

Then yesterday, I had the pleasure of the other-half of the annual checkup/preventative measure that come with Middle Aged:  the dreaded colonoscopy examination.  Pfft, I say to that.  While I might understand the need for such things when it comes to people from families that have histories of various forms of cancer to even smoking in one’s life — for someone like me I’d prefer to perform an enema with Dranō especially after that gallon of swill consisting of Gatorade and MiraLAX with a Dulcolax chaser.  The day before fast can also go.  I made mention to the doctor an enema with distilled water would have been less of an annoyance than the pre-prep that’s handed out to all patients, but he explained to me that with a cleaned out system they also do checks between the large to small intestines, so that suggestions for that discomfort are out.

While I can barely remember the post-operative conversation because I was still loopy from the anesthesia they used, I do remember that the doctor had explained to me that they had found a couple of polyps — although my mother being present at the time explained they also found them on her and had confirmed they were benign, so I’m playing the waiting game at the moment until it’s confirmed they’re benign from me as well.  I do also remember something about the doctor saying something about looking forward to the next exam in 3 to 5 years.

Thinking, fuck that, I nodded, shook his hand and hobbled my way out to the car.

Yeah, no…  As I said to my mother, if they ever confirm the possibility of cancer, I would rather die than go through the chemotherapy and the various other horrors that await someone trying to get their cancer treated.  Besides, I have other concerns that might be happening later in my life, from the possibility of Parkinson’s Disease from my mother’s side of the family, Alzheimer’s from my father’s side of the family, a stroke in my later years from both sides of the family up at least 5 generations, just to name the ones I’ve seen in my years on this planet.

As a side note, the first thing I did was completely cheat any dietary restrictions and bought a Chicken Ranch and Bacon Calzone from my favorite local restaurant: Vasilio’s, apparently screwed up my maths between cost and tip by at least $0.20 cents, ate that while watching Xmeagol’s stream has he was playing something, passing out in my chair in the office and then hobbling to bed to sleep another couple of hours with the cat on my chest.   It was surprising how I was able to function in spite of being in a post-anesthetized state.

The homestead has been in a state of chaos, disrepair and blackmailed repairs when the issue gives me the feeling that I’m not living in a house, but out in the forest like the Radical Faeries I knew used to in Atlanta, GA.  Starting with the roof, apparently there had been water damage to parts of the roof on the eastern side of the house.  I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it publicly, but I’ve made quite a bit of noise on it privately as there was one night when it was seriously lashing out that when I took a break from whatever gaming I had been playing, went to the toilet and heard that the facet was leaking in the kitchen.  Without turning the light on, I checked the faucets and when I got dripped on, realized that the dripping water was coming from the third floor. Investigating, it turns out that the water dripping was coming in from the roof above the third floor with it running down the walls and straight onto the floor on the third and as gravity is a harsh mistress, was coming into my apartment in the process.

I can put up with a lot of things going wrong in my part of the shelter, but water in my apartment is definitely not one of them.  I talked with the landlord and his temporary solution while he was dealing with things in his life was to put a basin down  in the hopes of catching the water before he had to call out for someone to work on the roof.  Turns out that his temporary solution was as useless as a screen door on a submarine, and I was forced to hold back the month’s check as a means of blackmailing him to getting someone to work on the roof.   And so before the next rainstorm that we had, he got someone to work on the roof and since it’s rained more than few times in the following weeks — my apartment (and the third floor apartment) — have been bone dry.

Then yesterday, as I was prepping for the colonoscopy exam, I was entertained with a very lukewarm shower.  Without my morning coffee, by entertained I actually mean tortured.  After investigating the problems in the basement, I encountered water from one of the three sewer outlets in the basement (seriously three of them for a three by three apartment building).  Seems to be the front one that deals with the sinks (for the kitchens) in the front of the house.  After relighting the pilot on the water heater and checking it a couple of times between last night and this morning — so far it’s remained lit (knocking on wood) — and while the water’s definitely warming, it’s not the piping hot that I’m used to…  I adjusted the temperature upwards a bit, it’s significantly warmer, though not as piping hot as I remember, but then I just changed it less than an hour ago, and it’s a large tank so I’m not sure.  Let’s hope that ends the problem, but if not I might need to look into a new water heater sometime in the future.  More on that I’m sure.

On my off time, I’ve been playing the usual games and added one more game to the repertoire.  First and foremost ties into the reason for the quote that opened this entry:  Star Trek Online.  While I play games my way and solo, I often watch chat (and sometimes the exchange/auction house) the price gouging in that particular game has been astronomical.  With the introduction of Tier-6 Kelvin Timeline Constitution Class Cruiser  (otherwise known as the JJ Abrams’ Enterprise), pricing for starships has gone from the rather insane 500 million energy credits to well over 1.2 billion (there’s an EC cap on players that’s only to 1 billion) and have incorporated exchange of Master Keys as necessary for the purchase from sellers.  While I had no issues on the Energy Credit Costs, going into real-world money — upwards between $270 to above $300 USD — for an in-game item seems to be  the epitome of greed.

Perfect World/Cryptic  seem to well aware of the greed and seemed to have instituted Energy Credit requirements for Fleet/Clan projects, but the truth of the matter is, this instituted method of greed control is too little and much too late as the price gouging and greed going on within game, as the sellers have now completely moved onto Master Key exclusively for exchanges for sellable ships.   PW/Cryptic’s solution is too little and much too late and I’ve suggested that PW/Cryptic look into a solution this morning, but I’m pretty damned sure it’ll go ignored.  The game is making more money now than when it was subscriber based.

Then there’s Warframe.  I’ve covered that game’s ongoing issues in this forum thread.  While I’ve made my peace in that posting (and pretty much ignored the comments that were made on it), I’ve pretty much said my piece and made my piece with the imperfections of the game.  I continue to play the game in spurts — what I like to call burst playing (playing missions in a burst of one to three per run) — either based on the alerts that I see, or for the grind for leveling up weapons (and later warframes).  After that I wander off to do whatever else it is I want to do during that time.

As of the last time I paid attention to the developer news (through their weekly Live-Streams on Twitch), I was moderately pissed-off that I lack one of the many requirements for doing the recent story about to be released next week (The War Within), but also made my peace on it as I’ll be able to check it out sometime in the future.  Hell, thinking about it, it almost took me six months after the release of Second Dream to actually play and finish it, so I shouldn’t be too miffed that I won’t be ready for the newest part of the saga on release.

In place of Rift that I’m dumping again, for two reasons; in its place I’ve picked up and starting playing Elite: Dangerous. Unlike Warframe (which also gets called Farmframe from the amount of grind in the game), E:D is clearly grind from the time you start playing the game (either in Solo or Open area Modes).  I’ll definitely playing this game much like I do Warframe in burst mode to prevent the potential burnout that can occur from playing a game with more than a little sameness.  I still haven’t figured out how I want to play this game, given I’ve seen some pretty impressive Twitch streams covering aspects of taxiing for money to YouTube for bounty hunting and from what I’ve been reading on the wiki there are other choices and combinations thereof.  I’m still trying to make up my mind on that, although knowing me I’ll probably go with something Privateer and legal.  I don’t like fines and I hate the thought of being hunted down by other players.

And that’s about it for the time being.  Tomorrow it’s the 0400 laundry run and then it’s back to life as usual.  Until the next time.

A message out to the world

05/21/2016 Comments off

Entry 05/20/2016 06:41:43 AM – Mentat 1088

Truth be told I’ve had positively no gumption to posting anything about me, my life or anything else publicly since the beginning of the year. Part of the reason is that with the exclusion of one incident, I’ve been remarkably and incredibly superfluous in the months since both the incident as well as since the new year. While I sort of miss the fact of my being rather intense and laser-focused about this or that, the fact is that I’ve come to learn that laser-focus was part of the price of having incredibly high blood pressure… To the tune of 220/117 and higher (as I’ve no doubt said before). Once I began the regimen of diuretics and blood pressure medications (which according to the doctor were originally used as a means of anti-anxiety), other than the more than occasional rage flare ups, I’ve been remarkably sedate about everything. Sure it’s still a bit high at my last doctor’s check-up… 140/84.. But both he and I agree that it’s significantly lower than it was when I first started coupled with the fact that I usually had it checked no sooner than 5 minutes after my walking both to the bus center (Kennedy Plaza) and then to his office… And believe me when I say I never walk casually anywhere. He believes me when I say that when I’ve checked it at home — when I’ve been rested — it usually hovers around 130/74. Still a bit high — but as I continue to lose weight he believes it should continue to go lower. And with that he’s chosen that the next time I see him is for the annual examination this October.

About the only thing that I’m not really liking about the diuretics (Chlorthalidone) is the fact that because my blood’s been thinned, I’m finding temperatures below 60 F (15.5 C) to being chilly. And by chilly I mean I need to be putting on a sweater/hoodie if I’m wearing a short sleeve shirt. It’s quite the shocking change for me given that I got used to being able to brave through the 40s F (~4 C) and not remotely considering shutting windows and turning on the space heater for a bit of warmth. People are telling me it’s because I’m middle-aged, except that I didn’t have that problem for the last 7’ish years.

Moe and I have reached a wonderful understanding about his time on the desk in the office: he can sit there all he wants, but if he sprawls and causes the NAS or speakers to get knocked down, then he’s off the desk without a warning. This seems to have worked out for the best as he’s liking the thought of sitting on my lap (or on the chair’s backing) whenever he can instead. That’s rather difficult given that he’s usually trying to get on my lap when I’m in the middle of game play, but seems all right when I’m watching a video or six. About the strangest thing I’ve come to find though is that he seems to hide whenever he’s puked up his food — or in the case this morning — seemed to have painted the bathroom floor like a toddler — and that’s to hide under the bed like he knows he’s done wrong. The funny thing is that I’ve always had the policy that there’s really no need to punish or scold cats for this as it’s usually out of their control. So leave ’em there under the bed until I’m through cleaning and then sort him out with a little loving so that he knows he’s done nothing wrong.

Funny thing is that he’s even more squirrelly about loud noises than ever. Be it the vacuum, me dropping something, or anything loud and he’s gone faster than the dust he’s kicked up. It was rather funny this morning as the garbage trucks were out there doing their weekly pick up and when I came up behind him (on my way to the sink), he reacted much like this. In spite of the usual dust-ups between he and I — something I’m still trying to figure out — I guess I’m a lot quieter than I thought. So that’s not helped his skittishness since we’re being here on Federal Hill.

Oh and one more thing about Moe… As I’ve said before he usually doesn’t have much interest in human food and the most enticing I’ve found is the remains of a tuna can as I’m having something with that. Ham? Nope, no interest. Beef? The same. Chicken? Eh he loves the smell, but can’t be bothered other than to smell it… Nope… His love seems to be blueberry muffins and strawberries off the bush. Seems he’ll go out of his way to have those instead even right out of my hand of off the dish. Strange that given that cats by nature don’t have the taste buds for sweet as they tend to stick to salty and meat… thanks to evolution. But I’ll just chalk that up to Moe’s eccentricities and move forward from there.

During my off-time, a friend of mine has been trying to convince me to get into World of Warships and I’ve been hesitant about it. Sure, from what I’ve been watching from The Mighty Jingles and my watching the various tutorials from the MMO; gaming in it is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from Star Trek Online with most of the controls… But what makes me hesitant about going into the game has entirely to do with the cooperative and team playing missions.. Yeah, you know me — if I can’t play with other people, I’m more than merry about keeping to myself and playing with my toys because I just play my way like I did when I was in kindergarten… and I’m more than happy about that. Put me in with other people — especially complete strangers — and I become this raging psychotic yelling at my screen and systematically ignoring people so that I’ll never have to play with them again. Better to stay in my own sandbox instead… I might eventually go into it — but that’s not quite right now.

Warframe I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone and have been doing missions that I was hesitant to do. I still haven’t gamed with other people (see above about that), but at least when I do play — there are at least a small handful of people I can play with if I need to do some mission that I can’t solo through. Well up until a couple of months ago — I don’t get on early enough for most and one has taken a break from the game to pursue other games — like World of Warships and War Thunder.

I’ve given up entirely on Rift for two reasons. The first and foremost reason is that it’s broken on both the Guardian as well as the Defiant sides of the RPG portions of the leveling up story-quests… On the Guardian side it seems to go all right, but then you get this really steep leveling mission that you’ll end up getting killed numerous times. There seems to be some sort of progression break from what I remember of the questlines and it seems to be lacking the adventuring through the various regions and seems to jump ahead in places I don’t remember being able to jump ahead to. The second reason is that it seems to be hell-bent on advertising Subscription Access for the “added benefits”… So much so that that much advertising in a game is off-putting to someone that I did put money into through the years.

And finally Star Trek Online is just something mindless and grind-like that I don’t mind doing for a couple of hours. I think I had a meltdown a couple of months ago when I realized that I was having shit-luck building up the FED-Engineer and FED-Science Captains and in a fit of rage deleted them. After all, I’ve been having better luck and success grinding and getting things with my FED-Tactical and ROM-Tactical… I did rebuilt the FED-Science Officer along with launching a Klingon Tactical Captain — but truth be told they’re sitting in my pick-list collecting dust for the last couple of months. Part of me is sort of loathing the thought of learning that the Science Captain is as clapped-out as running an Engineering Captain, most of me is wondering whether I should reroll it when the new season rolls out called Agents of Yesterday. I’m not sure yet, though it almost sounds enticing.

As for the rest…. Yeah well, other than the occasional blatant, up-front and completely unsuccessful pull from the folk in the area, I’m enjoying my sabbatical from the rest of humanity. Seriously the mind boggles at some of the things gay men say to one another in order to get a tryst, date, whatever. At least the good thing is that I’ve stopped getting the “will you be my daddy?” messages because of my Four Rules. And in case you can’t find those rules; I’ll post them once again here:

The Rules:

1. They have to be over 6’4″ for me to consider eligible.
2. They have to be older than my combat boots (33 years) for me to actually ask them out for coffee.
3. They have to be older than how many years I’ve been out of the closet for me to consider dating regularly. (37 years).
4. They have to be mature, vivacious and so at peace with their issues for me to consider breaking any of the first three rules.

The 20-somethings in the area see that first rule and apparently they’re all appearance intimidated. A good thing all around given that I’ve reached the age in my life where I’m tired of having to train tweens (Tolkien’s use of the word, not Urban Dictionary’s) to being mature adults. And the adults? Well, they’re man children… They’re appearance intimidated more often times than naught, so only the truly ballsy will try messaging me. Or cat-fishing. Either or, it’s win-win.

And that’s about it for the time being. Off to slink back to the quiet, which I’m enjoying. Until the next time.

The Slow Road… And distractions and petty annoyances

03/29/2014 Comments off

Entry 03/29/2014 11:34:07 AM – Mentat 692

Coffee? Check.

Grocery Shopping? Long since done.

Cleaning? Well, sort of. It’s clean but not a spring cleaning. Then again I still want it warmer.

I’m mostly accomplished, although the cleaning I keep wanting to push off. Not surprising really as I want full sunshine (not this mostly overcast nonsense), and it to be warm enough to having all the windows open. Sure, I have a couple of windows open right now, but it’s not the sort of spring-time warmth I want. Plus there’s threats of rain today which means the windows might not be left open for much longer. My sleep’s been rather clapped out the last week or so… Partially because of the fact that I’m dreaming vividly and surrealistically since moving back to the Hill (and away from the oppression and anger) I experienced in the Valley the last 2+ years. Partially because well, it’s that sort of meh kind of weather where it’s not too cold yet not too warm that it’s causing my sinuses to feel especially blocked. At least last night, I got about 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep before I woke up just prior to dawn, and then took advantage of a 90-minute nap before getting up again. I’m not too sure whether I like what I’ve read of those cycles. On the one side, I feel really energized after that nap. On the other, it takes a full 20 minutes to kick start my brain (and body) before feeling better. And lord knows, I despise feeling that drag-ass when I get up. I might try those a bit more in days to come; because I like the sort of focus I’m feeling after one of these naps — and was even mildly impressed with the fact that I was doing math in my head before the morning coffee. (As I said on the way to the market… “what can I say? I’m lazy with math. After all, that’s what my phone or computer are for…”)

Through the week, I was sort of prodded by mother and aunt about when I was going to go to call up my health care provider and make arrangements for seeing a Psychologist/Psychiatrist. I told the two of them through the course of the years (and after my parent’s divorce), I’ve seen about four (two of which were social workers). In the 4 months of seeing them, I’ve encountered very similar methods between the four: basically shelling out about $80 a week for them to just sit there and listen to me. When I asked each of them near the end of the sessions, they all said pretty much the same thing, “we didn’t see the need to guide you through this, as you had a very good idea on what you wanted to deal with…” Basically told me that I was healing myself and they didn’t need to do anything more than listen.

So I said to both of them, “what’s the need for seeing a shrink, for $1,200+ if all they’re going to do is listen?” After all, I’ve been working on a journal since I was 17 and posting it online for the world to see since 1999. Which accomplishes the exact same thing as having an impartial listener(s) for free. Because when it comes down to it — getting over the anger and rage that I have is going to be a long and slow process — regardless of listeners (paid and unpaid).

I assured them both though, I will eventually go see one. Providing of course, I avoid the pitfall of finding a psychologist/psychiatrist that feels the need to prescribe pills for problems (a solution I despise of most doctors in the medical field), and I understand fully what it is that I need help on.

I’m beginning to see that Moe and my mother’s dog Jack seem to share the same wavelength. They both seem to go crazy about the same time of the day (and even week)… They both disobey for the same reasons (and of course on the same day). They even seem to get more needy (or independent) at about the same time too. They even tend to binge and starve around the same time with their own food (although Jack tends to eat more table scraps than Moe; who eats none really). At least the good thing that comes out of this is that I can be prepared for it when I walk Jack in the morning or afternoon when he’s out on his leash and patrolling his neck of the neighborhood…. Because believe me… having an almost 100 pound chocolate lab that lunges at people to lick them, or attack rival dogs can be quite a pull for anyone not prepared. And I’ve been yanked off my feet by his pulling on a number of occasions.

While I haven’t been driven enough to write that short story I’ve hinted at in the last journal entries, on the bright side my dream states have been more mundane. Well by mundane I mean not something that would make Lovecraft or Poe or (Clive) Barker proud. Though there have been a couple of those sort of dreams going on peppered through my nighttime sleep. Heck, I’ve even had a sexually charged dream once or twice (alright six times) in the last couple of weeks. The good thing is that they weren’t so much the, “oh my god, really!? Not again!?” sort of dreams, but instead more the, “well that was definitely entertaining and amusing.” Can’t remember any of them for the last week — other than this morning’s — but that one was only because I’ve been visiting the rage and impatience for the two douche nozzles while explaining to my mother and aunt the three no’s when it comes to truly causing me rage (e.g., Theft, Pathological Lies, and Using people). At least when I woke up, I wasn’t angry, but simply wondering whether this dream was representative of the impending cleaning storm I have to do for this apartment.

On the good side, I’ve finally worked Free-to-Play for Rift to buy the Storm Legion Souls. I got them this morning before flying out the door to do my monthly groceries. I haven’t tried them out, but the good thing is that they’re there when I’m ready to come back and play.. Especially given that I have 4 character slots on this particular server (shard) as I’m thinking of trying one of each class. On the bad side, I’ve burned through another guild. And this is that story…

I have been in search of a new guild for some time now since leaving the first a couple of months back (because of personal issues with one player). So I warn them in advance that I’m currently shopping for a new guild that fits a certain criteria… They allow for casual players was the biggest. Others that can make or break my staying in a guild/fleet/group is friendliness to new players (as well as regulars), and the rest would be negotiable. So as a low level character I joined another guild warning them that I was shopping and that I had an end-game toon that might join depending on the feel.

At first they were all right with this I was playing a lower level mage at the time when I joined them, although in about a week they were pushing rather insistently for my end-game (Level 60) Rogue to join them for end game raids and seemed insistent as to whether this Rogue were of sufficient stats and gear to be able to do Expert Dungeons and Raids. While I didn’t mind the urgency for my end-level character to join their guild and assured them that there’s no locks on any sort of random (regular or expert) dungeon; they seemed to be all right, and left the nagging feeling I had on the back burner. So I joined with the rogue and they even helped with getting one stat up to their requirements for an end-game raid (Hit: 400). Granted my character was already “Raid Ready” with its Tier II PvE gear, but their standard while being higher was seemed sensible and graciously accepted the gift of a necklace to bring my Hit Stat above 400.

I remember over the last week or so that there was talk about a raid and then they set a raid for the weekend. I thought that it was going to be on Saturday, but found out last night that it was then, and insistently they wanted me to come in with my end-game character instead. Another nag, that I gave in to.

I told them right off the bat that I’ve never done a raid and the last two guilds I was part of; they were both not remotely high enough in level and geared for even Expert Dungeons. I explained that I can do rather well taking orders as well as having it explained to me any quirks of the scenario that we would be going into. The person that I was chatting with from the guild at the time seemed uninterested with this piece of information and continued to insist (too much) that I should be a bard (a support/healer role).

I told him several times in voice chat and in type that I haven’t worked with the class and it would take weeks before I would be up to mastering that role for the character.

He continued to seem to insist this in spite of my telling him that I was a more than adequate Area-of-Effect Damage Dealer, and an average Single-Target Damage Dealer that I should be/they needed a Bard.

Mildly annoyed, I ignored him after that until the raid started.

In the raid I told them once again I don’t do well being thrown into the deep end of an unknown mission and that as a virgin if they tell me what to expect, I’ll do better at keeping up with the group. The Raid leader (and officer for the guild) agreed he’d keep the new people in the loop during the mission. And no, I wasn’t the only new person for this guild-raid.

Of course, he didn’t tell the new people anything to expect. Which were the mobs, who was the boss and what kind of quirks the boss can throw at the group. He didn’t tell us how treasure was doled out (not the typical raid/dungeon of Need or Greed), how one conducts themselves in voice-chat/typing chat when it’s a mixed Guild/PUG group.

On one instance, I learned after the fact, and didn’t set my character role properly for maximum damage. I didn’t realize I had to “/roll” instead of the usual need/greed popup box (and because of it didn’t get any of the end boss loot). On the other, I completely botched the boss fight and we all died. When it was criticized that my DPS was under 3,000, I typed out I couldn’t find my rhythm with this boss (which was why my DPS was so low), I got chastised in voice-chat that I shouldn’t say that sort of thing as the PUGs could rage quit. The person that did so did it with the same level of condescension demonstrated because I couldn’t play a Bard according to his requirements.

I snapped back at the person that chastised me, that my admissions wouldn’t be so big a problem (as they were making it out to be) given that for most of the dungeon so far, I was ranked #2 in damage dealing, exceeding several veterans by significant points in the process.

The second time through the boss that we failed with, it turned out that the two people that were new to the raid did in fact survive and beat the boss (and the rest had died horribly), but by that point I was fed up with the guild and the raid on the whole and left. Both to cool off as well as play a game I was sure to do well with (Warframe).

I talked a bit with Glenn after that souring experience and realized that this was much like getting a new job and on the first day of starting it, the manager shows you the desk, computer and phone you’ll be working from and as the manager walks away says, “good luck with your job…” No training, no what to expect, not even basic explanations of what to expect — other than perhaps the feeling I was last choice for the position because: …I wasn’t a Bard…

So this morning, another “not a good fit” e-mail to the officer that recruited me, monies paid for the necklace given and off to the wilds to being a free-agent after a good nap and a couple of cups of coffee…

And that folk, is another example of the bad side of gaming. I think I’ll end it here for the time being. I spend too much time a distraction than the actual issues. I’ll be back another time and try again. Until the next time.

A Couch Potato’s Review of Warframe

07/16/2013 Comments off

A Couch Potato’s Review of Warframe

As I’ve said in the past, while I am not much of an MMO player, the games that I tend to find within the MMO/MMORPG realm are few and far between and rely on a number of elements that make for my wanting to stay with them:

  1. It’s a theme that I readily relate to as a long-time sci-fi and fantasy geek and nerd.
  2. It has replay value.
  3. It’s challenging but not punishing.
  4. End-Game while being grind-like isn’t so mind-numbingly bad or poorly executed I feel like it’s a job working on an assembly line (I remember those 20+ years ago, this is why I got an education and degree to get away from that).
  5. That I can play these games alone or with the friends I have or make in the game and I can do so on my whim and impulse and is not a requirement of the game.
  6. The community playing it is fun, mature, Can take criticism against what they don’t like and negotiate it into what they like.
  7. (and in the last couple of years), as a Free-to-Play Game it doesn’t feel as though the developers or distribution company has put on so many restrictions that to unlock the ransom demand(s) put on my character(s) to play them for the fullest extent and I have to pull the credit card out of my wallet.
  8. And finally (as well as something that’s developed in the last couple of years), the distributor(s) and/or developers will listen to the community and adjust according to the input within the community for the bugs encountered, content requested and keep to the ever fine line between placating the loudest in the herd with the vision originally deigned for the game they produced.

This shouldn’t be surprisingly why I have stayed with some games after two years and why others while still being on the gaming partition of my PC haven’t been touched in an equal amount of time. Warframe seems to be rapidly becoming one of the latter and less of the former.

At first I thought that it was a great game. It had the elements that I like in real time shooters: challenge, enemies that seemed to follow the rules, and while this game is extremely light on story-based RPGs, it had the sort of missions that could keep me entertained enough from beginning to end. But then three things began to niggle at me… The first is that the farther you get through the solar system, the more it felt as though the game is punishing and not challenging (with the usual caveats, but I’ll get to that in a minute). The second is that for an open beta, the amount of changes that had been going on since it went open was more like an alpha test instead. And the third is that I’m not too keen on the community at large.

Now, I’ve been working in the IT industry for more than 20 years (granted the majority of it has been in networking and telecomm, but there’s a healthy amount of beta & alpha testing in there as well) and when something has been marked/advertised as a beta (be it open or closed), this usually means that the majority of the program has been ironed out and that it’s on its way to being distributed for the general market. Admittedly I haven’t been too keen on the whole, “Alpha testing is the new beta” mentality of programmers, developers and most importantly software distributors in the last decade however, regardless of my personal opinion on the difference between the two: this game is clearly in alpha testing.

Too much seems to be crammed into the game update to update to update and not enough of this game seems to be nailed down for production and distribution. To make matters worse, unless it’s something that makes the game impossible to play, bug tracking and fixing is either done internally making it near impossible for we the testers to get an idea of what’s been reported, what’s been reported repeatedly (or what’s considered still an “open issue”) and what is in the queue for repair with the next distributed patch. What we — the volunteer beta testers — should be seeing is something like this. What we’re getting is a standard discussion forum layout instead which comes standard in PHP website design. This leads to the next problem…

The community at large.

The problem with this is both a lesson in the good, the bad and of course the ugly of crowd-sourcing troubleshooting and development of any program that caters to the gaming community. Criticism of the game is often met with the same sort of mindset as posting a comment on 4Chan: Some people in agreement, some in conscientious disagreement with the remainder of the conversations/discussions/comments teetering between the lowest common denominator of the trolling community through the obdurate contrarians that discourage any sort of criticism to what they themselves appreciate and finally the hoards of sycophants that sing the praises that the developers can do no wrong.

This has been creating a problem with the development of this game because it’s from a small percentage of (the loudest) players that have been with the game early on (or better are able to master the game quickly) that complain on how this game does not have much “challenge”. And instead of tiering the difficulty levels of this game — say, a beginner, a medium, a hard and perhaps even a hardcore level to this game — has been doing it as one level only.

While I have been fortunate in the few times that I have posted on the forums has been met with intelligent discourse and disagreement — I have meandered through the forums and seen the sort of discussions, trollings and outright derision toward posting that I experienced in the first years of being on Usenet. Don’t get me wrong, I have years of history at being the worst possible troll people could ever face. I did it with intelligence, a sharp wit and a sharper tongue. This is gaming though, and gaming is something I like to do casually. Something I like challenge with and coming out at the end feeling a bit better for thinking something through. It’s not the sort of thing I want to have to put on the fire-resistant skivvies on to wade through comments and negativity when I find something that should be considered enjoyable and met with the feeling as though I’m dealing with the “neck beards of 4Chan”. This is most certainly not the sort of thing I want to deal with when reporting and checking on bugs that I’m assisting in making a good game better.

Finally the game itself. When I dealt with the beginning planet (Mercury), I couldn’t sing the praises enough to friends about it. It’s a shooter, it’s challenging, it’s the sort of thing that can be played alone and in groups and seemed to follow a set of rules that I was beginning to understand. Enemies were tough, but only challenging if I tried to go head to head with. It wasn’t the sort of infuriating punishment that came from programmers that played the game for hundreds of hours at a time and artificially inflated numbers (enemies, etc) and situations to make it more challenging. The farther out I got (at the time, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Earth and Uranus), the more difficult to impossible it was to play these missions alone. Two of the bosses (Saturn and Venus) for example cannot be done alone at all. It takes a team to play it. I began having trepidations as to the direction this game was beginning to take. That was for update 7.

Update 8 introduced me to completely punishing and something that I found myself rapidly disgusted with. Levels were insanely redesigned where the problem wasn’t so much for trying to get through the tile set alive, it was trying to stay alive when being bum-rushed by insane amounts in enemy hoards that in some cases of team play — players were barely able to make it through without being practically killed. I had also noticed that enemy factions changed the rules they had been following the farther you get out from the beginning worlds… Where the factions are able to shake off elemental damages (fire and electricity) and still be able to shoot at the player with lethal and infallible accuracy. Confused enemies for special player moves? Nope, that stopped rather quickly. Further examples of punishment to me the player, came from enemy factions being able to stun lock into immobility and death. What’s called “the lazy man’s method” of making a game difficult.

Update 9 continued on the bad trend of adding nightmare levels. While I can appreciate that some players want that sort of challenge that comes from harder difficulties, I am not one of these sort of players. Seeing the nightmare levels showing up on maps and on some missions that I definitely appreciated playing solo (like Exterminate missions) and doing so in a draconian — you have no choice other than skipping the level — is not my idea of “fun”. When I want to play Elite mode in Star Trek Online for example, I do so from the options menu. It’s not something that I’m forced to do but can volunteer to do at my own discretion.

And bugs? God, there are still bugs in play from Update 7 when I first came into the game that continue to plague this game at the time of this review. Sometimes it feels as though for every bug that’s been fixed, three other bugs crop up in its place. And I really don’t like playing games that continue to maintain bugs as part of play. That’s a good part of the reason why I stopped playing Star Wars: The Old Republic too.

Believe me when I say, I’m not trying to be intentionally negative in this review of the game. I understand that the developers is a small group of people making this game for some years now. I understand that they have dreams and aspirations for making the next best MMO. I understand that they also have a big list of bugs and issues that need to be fixed (and have gone onto a couple of live-streams to reinforce this). I applaud them for their ingenuity and their dedication for making this game. And I find myself giving them an attaboy for the ingenious way they’re trying to get people to buy things for the game.

However at the same time — I think they’re being too ambitious too quickly. I don’t think they understand that they should be worried not on the content of the game, but making the game more smooth. Work out the bugs first before going hog wild with the new content. That they don’t have a clear vision that needs to cater to a wide array of players from the casual to the hardcore and rely too much on hardcore player input to solve the replay value of the game. Finally in the last two live streams from the developers I’ve watched, conveyed too much on their concern about being cheated out of money rather than making the game fun. Because let’s face it — cheating happens in all games — from MMO to single-player. We as a gaming community don’t like it when we’re being honest and despise it when we see it happening. But talking about it to their viewing public? Well, it’s admirable — but talking about it more than once or twice sends up side messages that give me the impression a clear vision of the game doesn’t seem to exist.

Bottom Line: This game while being promising, I say with reservation it is not ready for prime time. It’s in my personal (read: Armchair) opinion that their ambitions to entering the console world this Fall, 2013 is going to end somewhere between lack luster and poorly. The game is definitely not for the solo MMO player and even joining it with friends will end up finding themselves punished by poorly (and very lazily) designed situations. I might be wrong.. At least I hope so…

A moment of disillusionment from an old Gaymer

04/06/2013 Comments off

Entry 04/06/2013 07:21:28 AM – Mentat 684

In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.” – J. William Fulbright

While yesterday was one of those sort of days where I was up and about more than sitting down and calm, I had an incident that gave me a bit of humor and a lot of pause. During one of those interludes while C was off with friends, I decided to play a bit of Star Trek Online because I needed to grind a bit of Dilithium and it’s a fairly good way of adding a bit of routine (and order) to an otherwise jittery day. Here is a bit of the back story to this to understand where I’m coming from in this.

I had left the Fleet that I had been part of because of a difference of opinion on what can and cannot be talked about and me having a problem with anyone censoring individuals or a group, took exception when one particularly conversation (that wasn’t in the least bit offensive) was being censored by some rather loud detractors. So, I went on the market to find another Fleet that I could dump my excess materials, equipment, monies and what have you… and went in search of other gaymers. The largest of the LGBT fleets that I had come across was Stonewall Fleet, so much so that they had their own chat channel within the game that I could configure and join. I remember doing so (configuring and joining the chat channel and perhaps later on, the fleet) with the intent of getting a feel of the people before. Sort of a try before you buy, as the saying goes.

About a week or two into watching and then later interacting with the chat, I got into my first scuffle with a bunch of the more uptight folk in the group. I made a comment about leaving for Star Wars: The Old Republic to troll the kids there, and they got offensive about it. Sure, I know I worded it wrong and made the mistake of assuming that people would understand my nature given I often snarked folk in the week I had been actively chatting, but they went on the attack saying it’s wrong. After 30 minutes of my explaining why I do what I do (I only troll kids that are being tits. After all, I work on the belief, if you’re going to be a tit, you’re going to be treated as such). Only one of the more aggressive understood why I was the way I was (even if he didn’t condone it), while the rest were remaining on the offensive. Basically doing precisely what I do for the reasons why I do it, and denying their nature in the process.

At that point, I decided I was going to remain a free agent and not join their fleet and waited out for better offers.

I did get that better offer from a good acquaintance in Ireland (no, not you Glenn) who had also left the fleet we had been part of because of differences in play styles with the management there and ended up joining a rather nice bunch of folk from the fleet of LaFamilia (otherwise known as “The Family”). I tagged along because I have a good rapport with the smarmy git and the fact that he generally knows how to pick them even if things fall through at a later time. Though I kept Stonewall Fleet Chat active because I wasn’t sure what the mix was with the Fleet, and admittedly it’s nice to be able to chat, be camp, and generally light with folk that can understand some of the humor I’ve come to appreciate (and am familiar with).

Then comes last night. I was in a fairly good mood, I wanted to grind a bit. The queerfolk where in their usual sort of high spirits mood. There was a bit of camp, and a bit of heckling going on. I sort of made a couple of comments, but paid more attention to the grinding for Dilithium that I was doing. And then it hit me while I was heading towards the Asteroid Mine that there was something happening on Bajor. Some sort of gathering. Several of the folk were making cutesy comments that the “speechifier” was going to be speechifying.

I was mining on the Asteroid, and there it was in it’s full and vomitus glory… The leader of the Stonewall Fleet was prattling on like a politician running for a term in office.

I said something about being a politician’s son and that the last thing that should be going on is any sort of aggrandizing grandstanding in a public chat. That it’s better to get to the point.

The leader of the fleet send a scathing whisper to me accusing me of being disrespectful and that he would mute me if I continued.

For one brief moment, I thought about copying & pasting that comment to the Public chat calling out that I must’ve hit a nerve if this “speechifier” is making threats in private. But then I thought twice about it, knowing full well of doing such a thing would cause instantaneous flaming both from the leader as well as whatever quiet spectators were sitting there watching.

In the meantime, several of the fleet called me a “d-bag” for being so “disrespectful”.

I shot back quickly that I’m not a douchebag, and clarified that I generally am good to get along with except when someone is being a grandstanding blow-hard. I went on further to say that he should get to the point as this is a game, not a platform for a political campaign.

The leader went on to say something about “welcoming diversity to the fleet.”

To which I countered, “except when that opinion is dissenting” and got myself banned from their happy little chat.

Admittedly I didn’t realize that I was banned. It had simply gone quiet and I had assumed that the lot of them had moved whatever long-winded speech that was going on to Ventrilo. But after a brief respite from the game, going to chat with C for a bit before he headed to bed and coming back to finish off the grinding and the Duty Officer Missions that I wanted to queue up, realized that it had been too quiet for that Stonewall Fleet’s chat channel. So when I went to look for the channel information, my access to it had been removed. When I tried to re-join I had been denied.

I laughed in LaFamilia’s fleet chat and told them the story, including the banning. There was a bit of chat, and a bit of explaining, but overall at the time before I headed to bed I found it sardonically funny. So did the members of my fleet (though they were a bit confused about how I pulled of being part of 2 different fleet chats).

This morning though? I’m finding it sad. I mean here we are in the 21st century, and what I saw of the leader of this group and the repercussions of my actions to be antiquated. This is something I would’ve expect in the 80s and not now. After all, diversity as it has been taught to me is to accept the good and the bad of the community. It means that sometimes, we’re going to encounter people of an opinion that is completely counter to our own.

I had learned through my years of wandering the planet that a good leader (not to mention a strong one), will be able to roll not only with those of like mind, but also those of an opinion completely counter to their own. To be able to address the group as well as the hecklers, in a way that can bring them all together. Well, sometimes anyway. There are just some that are impossible to please.

This leader of this group however, isn’t one of those that could be qualified as a good leader. If anything, he’s one of the most common of the “leaders” I’ve seen since my days on IRC.

So as I continue to write this entry, I recalled a lot of the familiar patterns of seeing this in the 23 years of being online. The cliquishness of gay men’s (and sometimes even lesbian) groups. The hair-trigger attitude of dissenting voices to whatever the head of the group encounters them. The banning/removing/ostracizing of whatever dissenting voice that comes up — automatically assuming that dissention is equivalent to “the enemy”. That this was typical of someone that has been bullied and picked on that created a power base of being their own Queen of Hearts in their own little kingdom.

Sitting here now, it raises the question: Have we as the abused (from years of being put down for being gay) become the very thing we hated? The abuser? That in our striving for equality, have we lost our ability to understand the very tolerances we’re demanding from others?

I hope not. Because if we have, this is going to be a very dark day in the future when (and if) we get those equalities we’ve been fighting for, all these years.

Anyway, I’m off for the time being. Time to watch a bit of television, make lunch and have a moment or two of peace. Until the next time.