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6×6(x6) challenge

State of the blog: I’m still alive!

Over the past little while I’ve had a big case of the whatevers, in the fact that I have had not much drive to work on my blog. However, thanks to the friendly pestering of some fellow bloggers, I’ve decided to try to get back into the swing of things.

Also, I’ve had a little something – or someone – that has kept me busy for the past week.

The Spawnling at a day old

Meet The Spawnling, born last Saturday. She is absolutely adorable and is totally in control of our house already. She’s going to have her daddy wrapped around her pinky so very quickly, I’m sure.

The Challenge

Go into your image folder, open the sixth sub-folder and choose the sixth image. Show the image, and share some thoughts about it. Challenge six new bloggers, and link to them.

Fannon at Dwarven Battle Medic started to complicate things a bit by making it more than just one folder, which Aidrana from Miss Pew Pew followed – and since they bugged me, and I want to write, you get more for your non-spent money!

1 – World of Warcraft (852 pictures total)

My Tauren Druid main, as a baby character

I used to have more pictures, but unfortunately after reformatting a few times there were some that had been lost. Thankfully this one was saved, which was my very first screenshot of my main character. At the time his name was Asok (after the Dilbert character), and is now Korath – the closest I can get to my usual name as I could on the Thrall server.

As you can see, he is very much a baby character. This was during Burning Crusade when I was leveling up with my wife’s new character, as she had just recently bought WoW and was leveling her way through it. Back in the day, you had to go all the way to Silvermoon just to train Jewelcrafting for the Horde, as you had to go to Exodar for the Alliance. Those days sucked.

2 – Muse Concert (6 pictures total)

Muse concert in Edmonton, March 2010

Unfortunately, these were very bad pictures taken with my old mobile phone. Thankfully it is now dead, and I have a new fancy iPhone 4S to replace it.  However, amazingly enough the pictures are somewhat recognizable. Muse is my favourite band, and my wife and I were fortunate enough to see them in March 2010.

3 – Blog Stuff (144 pictures total)

What I do is whenever I have anything specifically for the blog from something else, I would usually save a copy of it in my Blog folder, renamed for whatever purpose.  However, in this case since I’m using something that I’ve already done… then I don’t bother.

I have only a few sub-folders: one specifically for third party images, so I know which ones are mine and which ones are not; one for my Screenshots of the Week (which is definitely not weekly anymore); and a sub-folder of the SSOTW where I move over the images that I have used.

Why hello, Archaeology survey tool from my Archaeology 101 guide.

4 and 5 – Third Party and Screenshots of the Week (52 pictures total)

Moon and Aurora in Howling Fjord

As mentioned above, these are just pictures from my separate sub-folders.

Howling Fjord is still one of my favourite zones for many reasons. It was one of our first tastes of Wrath of the Lich King, and it really sets the tone for this Northern land. Living in Canada, I’m fortunate enough to see the real Aurora Borealis from time to time, and it never gets old.  I just love it so very much.

Verming concept art for Mists of Pandaria

The Verming concept art was one that just made me laugh so very much. We were watching the BlizzCon live stream this year, and they had this during the Mists of Pandaria preview panel. I can’t wait to kill these guys, as I’m pretty sure that they’re the new kobolds or murlocs and we’ll hate them soon enough.

6 – The Spawn/The Spawnling (1964 pictures total)

The Spawn

What parent doesn’t like to take pictures of their kids?  If anyone follows me on Twitter, they’ll know that I refer to my kids as The Spawn and the new one as The Spawnling. I’m a bit paranoid so I prefer not to use their real names, as Fannon from Dwarven Battle Medic frequently uses the same idea with the Dwarfling.

The Spawn is two and a half years old, and The Spawnling is a week old now.  We have our hands full with them, but as I’ve said many times – being a Dad is the best job in the world.

This picture happened to turn out really well. I was trying to get a picture of The Spawn with my iPhone, and of course he was running around. I figured I’d see what happens, and it ended up being one of my favourite pictures.

Bonus – Too much cute to handle

The Spawn holding The Spawnling

It’s quite handy having a phone to capture some great moments. Of course, when The Spawnling was first born we weren’t sure how The Spawn would react. Thankfully, he’s been an amazing big brother – we just really hope that it continues.

Challenging Others

The last part of the challenge was to tag six other bloggers to do the same thing.  Unfortunately, most of the bloggers that I know have already done this challenge, so I’m going to call out a fellow Band of Thorns member to get off his butt and update his blog.  Sharden of 15 Minutes of WoW – I hereby challenge you!

Next Steps

Thanks to my blogger friends, I should be back into the swing of things. With having two children under three in the house now, updates will most definitely not be as consistent as I would like, but I will try to keep things going as much as possible.

Here’s to a new chapter, I hope that it turns out to be as good on paper as it is in my head.

Boredem and changes

Over the past while, I have to admit that I haven’t been playing much World of Warcraft. It’s not that there is nothing to do – far from it – but there just really isn’t much that can keep my attention lately. I find that I’m logging on for a random heroic or two, but after that I’m finding that I can’t keep interested.

I’ve come to realize that finally, after over seven years of playing, I’m mostly bored of WoW. There have been times where there have been some gaps where I haven’t had as much fun, but it never has been like this before. Even though there are things coming up with Mists of Pandaria that look really cool, at the very least we’re around 6-7 months away from that. When the time comes, I’ll definitely pick it up and play it, but there’s just the problem about the time from now until then.

Previously, I had a solid raid team that I would work with twice a week and work through the raid content. Not having this sort of anchor has affected me more than I ever thought, as the only person who I spend much time with when I’m playing WoW at all is my wife (not that this is a bad thing, it’s just that I would like to have more acquiantances). Even though I have joined a guild on my Death Knight that has a great number of people, unfortunately I have yet to find a suitable raid team that works with the times that I’m available.

With all of this being said, I’m playing other games and having some fun doing different things. I purchased Terraria and Portal 2 during the Steam Christmas sale last year and have started playing them again, and this year I’ve purchased Skyrim and Bastion, along with being fortunate enough to get into the Diablo III beta. Between these five games, I’m keeping myself quite occupied and not really missing WoW very much.

As I’ve said many times before, I’m a Blizzard fanboy and will continue to be one. I still really enjoy WoW, but as many other people do, I think I’ll just play it less than I have in the past. When the New Spawn comes in February, it’s quite possible that I might be doing some Archaeology at three in the morning while feeding the baby.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and get into a raid team that works for me, because I know that it will re-kindle my interest in the game. The future holds many unknown things, and what I will be doing with my spare time to have fun is most definitely one of them.

Corath’s Blog? Say what?

This doesn’t really have anything to do with Warcraft itself, but with my blog.  For a while I’ve been wondering what I can do to improve it, and one thing that I’ve thought about for a while is branding.

If you do a search, and “Corath’s Blog” comes up, it’s not that captivating.  Nothing in it brings a person in to the website, and it doesn’t even reference anything in Warcraft at all.  It’s the name I’ve been using for years, and that’s about it.

A while back I had my sister-in-law, who was a journalist for a major Canadian newspaper, look through my blog and give me ideas.  Even though she has no experience with WoW or anything of the like, she said that things looked good – but she pointed out the title with exactly what I was talking about above.  I put the thoughts on the back-burner for a while, but now I’m wanting to proceed with it.

Since the address of the blog is out there, I don’t want to change that.  However, I’m not great about choosing titles or names.  I’d like it to refernce Warcraft in some way, since that’s obviously what I focus on.  Originally I was thinking about doing a variety of things, but that’s fallen by the wayside.

So, this is where I need the help of anyone who reads.  Please help me come up with any ideas for a new title!  Jamin from Shattered Beginnings has given me one, which will definitely be in the hat.  Please comment with any suggestions – all are welcome!  Thanks!

Three Nerds Walk Into A Bar…

Three nerds walk into a bar… and they talk. Not much of a punchline, right? Fortunately the real circumstances were much more enjoyable than my incredibly pathetic attempt at a joke.

This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to meet up with two other WoW bloggers here in Edmonton. Fannon of Dwarven Battle Medic lives here as well, but we had never met each other before. Ophelie of Bossy Pally was in town, on her way to where she’ll be moving with a new job, and was staying with Fannon and his family.  (Just looking at their blog names, it makes me realize that mine’s really boring.)

It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I am an incredibly shy person and feel very out of place where there’s nobody that I know. Fortunately we had two things in common right away: we all play WoW and we all blog about it. There were only a few awkward pauses, but all in all it was really nice to put faces to names that I know in the blogging community.

Fannon wrote up a bit more of a detailed account of his time with Ophelie while she was here, as she was staying with him. There’s a bit in there about our dinner, and I have to comment on a part of it: yes, I am a stinky Horde DPSer. However, I’m not a wimpy Alliance healer! FOR THE HORDE!

Previously, I wrote up a post about the small things that can bring people together or give them instant conversation topics regarding WoW. While it’s a good icebreaker, I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t talk only about the game. There was plenty of conversation about our personal interests as well as the obligatory “So… WoW!”

One thing I found out about Fannon is that he used to be a sale representative for a wine company, and knows quite a bit about the different types of wine. My experience with wine is very much a casual relationship, and if I’m lucky I’ll have half a glass with a dinner once a month or so. I had known that Ophelie lived in Newfoundland, but I didn’t know she just finished post-secondary schooling to become a pharmacist and was moving out to Alberta. It was neat hearing about her discoveries in the city where I’ve lived for so long and seeing the things we take for granted.

Even though all three of us describe ourselves as shy and quiet, we didn’t seem to have a problem keeping the conversations going. Considering we left the bar over three hours after we met, my guess is that the evening was a success. Now that I have the connections made I’m sure that more of these meetups will occur in the future, and hopefully we’ll be able to pull more local bloggers into the next event.

WoW Bloggers of the world… or at least Edmonton… unite!

The World is a Crazy Place

The world is a crazy, crazy place. We’ve seen a number of things over the past few years: devastating earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and many other things. For many of these events, they can happen in areas which aren’t very close to where people live and can be easily forgotten. Not so this year.

Right now there are two major disasters that are happening that I want to focus on: the fires in Slave Lake, Alberta and the flooding in Manitoba. Every year there is a fire and flood season in Western Canada, and unfortunately they happen to come at the same time. Alberta is tinder dry, and Manitoba is underwater.

Parts of the town of Slave Lake have been completely destroyed by wildfires in the area. Not just a few areas, but as much as one third (as of writing) has been burned up – including their town hall, library, a mall, and many houses. Slave Lake is just over two hours North and a little bit West of Edmonton, and has about 7000 residents. The entire town has been evacuated, and people are being housed in various towns around the province.

The flooding in Manitoba is so bad this year that they actually had to have a controlled flooding of an area to relieve the pressure on the dikes that were constructed. This was to prevent an uncontrolled breach at any number of locations to prevent an even further loss. Many towns and properties are under water right now.

Thankfully there are no reports of many injuries or casualties in the affected areas. Property and posessions can be replaced, you can’t replace people. The people in these areas need our help.

I implore people to donate their time and funds to worthwhile causes who are helping these people in need. The Canadian Red Cross is a good place to donate funds to for immediate help, and foundations like the United Way are good for long-term rebuilding. I’m sure that there will be agencies and funds set up to benefit the people in need.

Please give.

I’m Making A Note Here: HUGE SUCCESS

These days, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a score from a video game and one from a major motion picture. If someone is not told which one is from which and listen to a piece from each, unless that person is well versed in the movie and video game music worlds, they would be hard pressed to know the difference. This also shows how music has changed over time in the gaming world.

On Monday, my wife and I were able to go to a performance of Video Games Live. We had been to a performance once before at BlizzCon 2008 where they did a set of all Blizzard pieces, so knowing a little bit what to expect made us look forward to it greatly. This time we were treated to music from a wide variety of gaming, from Pong and the 8-bit era all the way to current titles.

For the week leading up to VGL I would randomly get the Zelda theme and the Dark World theme from A Link to the Past, as well as some of the Mario level themes. If you follow my Twitter feed or happen to be a friend on Facebook, you will have noticed many references about going to the performance. To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement, and I was not disappointed.

I am continually amazed by the quality of the music in the gaming industry. There are certain themes in movies or television shows that have become part of popular culture, like the Star Trek theme. Yet, there are songs like the Mario theme which are equally as part of our popular culture as anything else. In front of the right audience, people will recognize gaming music more than others.

There was a wide range of games represented through the evening. As I mentioned, it begun with Pong and a set with 8-bit and 16-bit games, and as I saw the videos of the games go by I couldn’t help but have fond memories of times gone by. StarFox, Zelda, Mario, F-Zero, Final Fight, among many others. From there, they did more specific themes from other game series like Castlevania, Street Fighter, Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross.

There were three things that I was wanting to see through the night: Warcraft (of course), Zelda, and Mario (specifically a certain piano piece from Super Mario World from the sky zones). Thankfully all were played, but unfortunately without Lament of the Highborne from Burning Crusade. All were played excellently, and it really gives a great sense of immersion in the games even though you’re just watching videos with an orchestra on stage.

If there was ever any doubt of how much of an impact a certain song can have on a game, a good example would be a certain song from Final Fantasy VII, “One Winged Angel“. As the song was announced, the entire auditorium burst into cheers and people sang along to the chants of “Sephiroth!”

My wife had mentioned to me that she was hoping to hear “Still Alive” from Portal, and if they hadn’t played it we were going to ask them at the meet and greet afterwards. Sure enough, for the finale we were treated to a sing-along version of the song. It was just the soloist singing and Tommy Tallarico on guitar, and it was awesome.

I give Mister Tallarico lots of credit for what he has done. Showcasing video game music is one of the best ideas to come up in a long time, as it is something that needs to be seen. People put their hearts into composing what some people take for granted as background music, and it’s great to see it out in front.

If you haven’t already, I would suggest that you play World of Warcraft with the music on and turn it up. It is excellent, and can be bought through iTunes. I would highly recommend it.

Pride

About a year ago, something happened in Canada that hadn’t happened for a while. The Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, and while that was great, it wasn’t the best thing that happened. Canadians were loud and proud for their country, and celebrated what the atheletes had accomplished for their country. We went from previously being the only country to not ever win a gold medal on home soil to the country which won the most gold medals on home soil. Everywhere I went, all I could see were flags, banners, shirts, mittens, jackets – whatever was available, a maple leaf was proudly displayed on it.

Normally when someone thinks of a country with a great national pride, Canada is far from the top of the list. For a time last February, I think that our country experienced something that I wish would stay a part of our culture. Unfortunately, that just isn’t how it is for most people. I’m one of those weird people who loves his country and is very proud to be Canadian.

Canadian Olympic fans in Vancouver

From National Geographic

There are many things to be proud of in life. Getting married and becoming a parent are two things that I’m most proud of. If you work towards something for a really long time and finally achieve it, you should definitely be proud of it. As an example, the show Departures is about a few guys who travel around the world for three years, seeing and experiencing so many awesome things around the world – Scott, Justin, and Andre should definitely be proud of that.

We should also be proud of who we are. I am a geek, and I don’t care what others think of that. I wrote before about embracing your geekiness, and it still holds true. Like many others, I’ve had some self-esteem problems in my past, because I let others get to me. I’ve learned to not really care about what other people think of me, but to care about: who I am, what I’ve done, and what I stand for. If my wife hates my guts one day, I care about that. If a random person on the street hates my guts, I won’t give it a second thought.

A good experience to help with your pride is to go to a convention like BlizzCon or the San Diego Comic-Con. You get to be with thousands of other people who share your geekiness, who like similar things to you, and where you don’t have to hide what you like. When my wife and I went to BlizzCon ’08, it was surreal to walk down the street and see people with the goodie bags, then go into a restaurant and have almost every table full of other people talking about what was coming up. There’s a great sense of acceptance when you have people there for a similar reason.

What I’m getting at is simple: be who you are. If you’re a geek, nerd, or whatever other stereotype or social label you can think of, be proud of it. You are who you are, and there’s no reason to change or hide it.

Life Getting in the Way

It can be quite frustrating at times.  I have everything planned out for a great night of gaming, and then something happens that I know will mess my plans up – life.  The great equalizer, it can happen to anyone: hardcore or casual, PvP or PvE, Horde or Alliance.  No matter what you do, Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head at you.

Currently, our guild raids once a week on Fridays since most people can make it then.  Unfortunately in my time zone, it starts at 7, and I work until either 6 or 6:30.  Along with that, I have a wife and child that I want to pay attention to (since I don’t really feel like being a BAD DAD), so I made a deal with my wife that on nights that I work late I wouldn’t raid.  It just so happens that I really enjoy raiding.  This new schedule at work is a new thing for me, so I’ll have to see what it’s like in the long term before I decide to start working out a raiding schedule at home.

That brings me to the heart of this matter, is a good life/game balance.  We’ve all heard stories about people becoming WoW (or any other game, for that matter) addicts and completely shutting out their real life.  It gets even more sad when there are kids involved who suffer, or even die, because of it.  Games are a great way to escape life – I use that as an excuse all the time, but games are not meant to replace life.  We’ve all heard it before, but the truth is still the same whether it relates to gaming or not: if something is becoming more important than what’s happening in real life, it’s time to get rid of it.

People seem to focus on gaming quite often, likely because of how easy it can be to start with it and keep going.  Yet, an addict is an addict.  Obviously, someone addicted to something like heroin is in a much worse situation than someone addicted to WoW, but there can be times where the symptoms are the same.  Not wanting to go out because you have “something to do”, scheduling a date around your raid nights, not taking care of yourself, not eating well – basically keeping yourself away from everything and anyone else.

It doesn’t take a multi-year, multi-million dollar study to realize that it’s not healthy.  I am very fortunate to have a wife who is very good at kicking my butt if I start taking things too seriously or going back into the rut that I had been in earlier in my life.  I hope that everyone has a family member or friend who is around that can give you a smack in the back of the head when needed, and I hope that everyone can have fun and play responsibly.

Merry Christmas!

I’ll be going on a small holiday around Christmas, so I thought I’d just wish everyone who reads this a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

May all your raids go smoothly, and may all your loot be epic.  Happy trails!

From WoW Insider

BlizzCon, what a rush

With BlizzCon 2010 fast approaching us (as in just over a day from now), I keep looking back to one of the best vacations of my life, which was being able to attend BlizzCon 2008.

It all started on a whim.  I suggested to my wife that we should try to get some tickets to BlizzCon, and make a whole vacation out of it.  See Disneyland, SeaWorld, things like that.  Amazingly enough, she actually agreed!  At this point, she had only been playing World of Warcraft for a fairly short period of time, and I was still testing the waters for her geekiness.  Obviously, I married the perfect woman. Read the rest of this entry

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