Category Archives: Musings

The kindness of strangers

Several incidents come to mind.

Now I’m usually just floored by the anti-social behavior of folks in-game.  Parking a mammoth on a blood pool you need to fish for the fishing daily.  Snowballs to knock teammates off the bridge outside of Stormpeak.  All sorts of things.

But what about moments where you think to yourself “Hey, that was nice of them.”

A Rogue in Elwynn Forest gave my Death Knight on Steamwheedle Cartel 164 pieces of Wild Turkey.  (That’s enough to take cooking to 350 for two people.)  (Thanks so much, Alleybash.)

The random “gratz” I got at various holiday tables as I was making achievements cooking.  I get in a zone sometimes, and it’s half mechanical going through “the motions,” but when somebody notices something, and pointedly, via whisper, brings it to your attention that they notice, it puts the “social” back in “multiplayer.”  Thanks to you all.

To the Rogue in Orgrimmar on Kirin Tor.  Who agreed to go meet the Human Ambassador from Stormwind City, who was there for the food, but also desired to meet an Orc of the Roguish persuasion, so he could feather him.  You didn’t have to leave the gates to go get shot, but you agreed to it.  Thanks!

And to all the level 1 Rogues, of all Races, who made their way to Dalaran, to spend a little time in very public places and dance, and be feathered, and cleanse yourself for another feathering.  You guys are selfless.  (I chatted with one, who had created two of the level 1 characters we were seeing, one on her machine, one on her husbands, and thanked them because Effilda earned her achievement that way.)

(What I found odd, with Garona such a popular lore figure, that there’s so few Orc Rogues.  Perhaps with Rogues now able to use axes, and Orcs having an affinity for them, perhaps we’ll see more Orc Rogues.  But that’s not the point of the post.)

Thanks to the good folks out there, and being visible, bringing the “social” to the forefront in the game.

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Posted by on November 25, 2009 in Musings


350 Cooking for about 15g.

Tobold brought this up the other day.

I guess I’m an “uphill, in the snow, both ways” kind of guy.

I actually slaughtered boars outside Karanos, Raptors outside of Theramore, Ravagers outside of Honor Hold, etc., to level up my cooking so I was prepared to cook the hardest holiday recipe this Pilgrims holiday was going to offer.  I read it was 330, and by gum, I leveled up to 330 Cooking the usual way.  And, by gum, I liked it.

However, as Tobold pointed out, Blizzard is making a gift to you all.  For 15 gold, the price of the various materials you can buy right there, you can level from 1 to 350 cooking simply by visiting the 3 capital cities and making a sidetrip to Northrend to get Cooking Master.

My level 58 Death Knight, on my “alts when I’m bored” server, with 22 gold to his name, is now at 349 cooking.  (I mean I can wait on that final point.)

Bear in mind: 350 cooking lets you do the Dalaran cooking dailies.  (There may be, however, a level restriction to that as well.  I’m not sure.)

So, if you’re so inclined, and have an alt somewhere that you think could be a cook, then this is the chance.  15 gold, some legwork, and a couple hours, and you’re set.  (And it’ll get you the Pilgrim outfit, attire, hat, and boots, as well.)

Blizzard is showing you some love this holiday season.  Or they’re just dumbing it down, relentlessly.  Perhaps that’s the plan.  Give everyone everything, and when “The Next Big Thing,” “aka WoW 2″ comes out, and offers an experience for the “seasoned” and “experienced” Warcraft player, perhaps we’ll once again have our hill to climb.  In the snow.  Uphill both ways.  And we’ll be queued up outside the door, in the cold, at midnight, waiting to get our hands on our copies.

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Posted by on November 24, 2009 in Musings


Grind & Craft, now PvP.

I’ve got five level 80 characters.  Four of them are Crusaders.  I don’t have the time, or inclination anymore, to get the fifth to Crusader, or anyone else in the “up and coming” ranks either.  The fifth started the process, but given he’s my oldest character, and his reputation with the cities is the worst (friendly, honored) I thought “No way.”

My Orc Warrior’s crafted, let me see, four full sets of Savage Saronite Plate armor.  One for himself, two for our Horde Deathknights, and one for my Paladin.  He’s crafted 3 Titansteel Destroyers (himself, Pally, my Alliance Druid).  He’s crafted two of the Titansteel spellpower maces (my horde Shaman, wife’s Alliance Druid), a Titansteel attack power mace (for my wife’s Shaman), and a Titansteel dagger (wife’s Alliance Mage).  I’ve crafted two Spiked Titanium Plate Helms and Boots (himself and the Pally), and also crafted the Tempered Titanium (tanking) Helm and Boots (for the Pally).  A full set of i187 leather gear for my Feral Druid, and my wife’s Balance Moonkin, and the i187 mail gear for the Hunter (who has crafted all this).   And the two epic leather cloaks (for dps and tanking, for my Pally).  Good thing Frozen Orbs are available on the Auction House!

So, all that grinding and gathering and crafting got me to one niveau.  The Crusader grind has added to it by providing a couple more items.  (And cash.)  My Belf Paladin is in 2 pieces of heirloom gear and wielding the grim reaper.  My Nelf Rogue is in the leather heirloom gear and wielding the sword.  My Forsaken Priest is temporarily modeling the cloth heirloom gear and wielding the staff, waiting to pass it on to my Goblin Warlock  My Pally is flying a Silverwing Hippogriff.

And now we PvP.

Goals:  Equip my Paladin in the honor bought pvp gear.  (Shoulders, belt, gloves, so far.)  I’m struck by the fact that I can’t use honor points for weapons.  That explains the Hunter I saw with full epic PvP gear, and using the sword from the Ebon Blade faction rep.

Secondary goal, equip the wife’s Shaman and my own Warrior in better-than-we-can-craft epics.  And, heck, frankly, give us something to do.  We’ve been at a bit of a standstill for a little while now.  (She’s got three level 80 characters of her own.  We’d only do the eyeball burning “Loremaster of Northrend” achievement (and for her an epic cloak recipe) on one couple, our Pally and Mage.)

Third goal: Get a couple of the heirloom items.  My Druid has gotten enough shards to pick up the Thrashblade for my level 60 rogue.  (It’ll go with the Crusader Seals purchased sword.)  (I actually took the Sharpened Scarlet Kris.  Slow+Fast is the new black.)  My Paladin will push for the 325 shard Staff of Jordan heirloom.  That’s going to be for my Worgen Mage.  (Maybe the pvp heirloom shoulders for the Mage as well.  The Crusader Seal clothie gear is very much “Warlocks Only” in look and style.)  The wife will earn enough shards to get the Spellpower plate (and xp boost) for her Holy Paladin.  Maybe the spellpower mace if we stick to it.  Shards are easy enough to come by with patience.

Casual?  Not really.  Personal?  Very.

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Posted by on November 17, 2009 in Musings


What I take away from the Pardo interview

What happens when a hardcore guildmaster of hardcore raiders designs a game:

World of This


You come from a humble background and are brought to the big city to prepare yourself for the war you’ve only heard about.

Chapter 1

Level yourself from 1 to Level Cap.  And be quick about it.  You, slacker, are holding up your friends.

Chapter 2

Raid the latest and greatest.  If you managed to keep up with your “friends.”

Chapter 3



There is no happy ending.  That loot is only there to get the next loot which is only there to get the next loot which is only there…  Stress out, burn out, chill out, drop out.  Re-sub.

Too bad his creation has become something he does not appear to be all too happy with.  It’s too damn casual for him, basically.  If you’re willing to climb up a hill to go to school, both ways, he’ll do it in the snow.  If you do it in the snow he’ll go with bare feet.  If you do it with bare feet, he’ll add razor spikes.  He wants that gap between hardcore and casual.  The bigger the gap, the more of a winner you are.  The game must provide you the opportunity to make as big an e-peen as you can.  (Grand Marshal title anyone?  How many lives did that ruin?)

The winners, those who need that gap, always have Darkfall or Conan.  If they’ve got the balls for it.  (Those that don’t will roll on an RP server and park their mammoths on the quest giver in Wintergrasp.  They’re big like that.)

But wait, I invalidate his own argument there.  No, the “winners” have to play in a casual world.  Their accomplishments are meaningless when compared to other players with skillz.  Without the unwashed ranks of casuals to feel good against, what have you got?  You have to have casuals in order to make the leet feel leet.  If everyone else is in Tier 10 too, you’ve got bupkis.

I wonder if we’ll ever see a casual game for casual players.  And no, even I don’t want Sims with Swords.  How about something more about exploration than conquest?  A virtual world that’s more about “living” in it than reaching it’s conclusion over and over (and demanding new conclusions over and over).

I seriously hope WoW2 is not a game where you 1) RUSH TO LEVEL CAP, 2) Raid.  (Then you may as well simply offer max level characters out of the box and let them simply do arenas and puzzle events.  Screw the story and lore and backdrop.  They’re for the tourists who otherwise fund all this.  But then Guild Wars has already done that.)

I’m just piqued that he’s even complaining just a little about the great game they’ve made.  NEWS FLASH:  Count your subs.  Know you’ve created something unique.  Rest on your laurels.  Go ahead and expand on what you’ve got, all of it, if you want for a followup.  I don’t want to see a World of Raids.

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Posted by on November 16, 2009 in Musings


Dragon Age: Origins

First off, we weren’t going to get this game.  I wasn’t totally thrilled with the trailers I’d seen (I thought the graphics looked dated).  The wife was thinking between WoW, Lotro, occasionally Warhammer, when would she get a chance to play?  And it’s $50.00.

But there we were, in Best Buy, and thinking (Logitech G35 headset already under one arm), “Eh, why not.  It’s supposed to be pretty good.”

And I’ve got to say, YOW!  It’s really much, much better than I was expecting.  The graphics are over the top really, really nice.  The fire effects, the armor pieces, the environments, they all look spectacular.

You’ve heard of the Uncanny Valley?  You won’t find it on this map.  Oh, the old people look a little odd, but for the most part, the people look really very nice and varied.  Hardest to make well typically, the Dwarf women looked really nice and pleasant.  Generally, the faces are incredibly good looking.  If you can imagine what’s “good looking” you can make that face.

Story wise, I’ll admit, we did not finish the game.  Not even in the slightest.  What we did, the wife and I, was play through several of the opening sequences.  Each of the races and class backgrounds, and I’m assuming sex as well, has it’s own storyline.  Play a Human and you start out the son of a noble.  Play a Dwarf and you can be a noble, or a ruffian.  Play a wood elf and you start out harrassing the hapless humans.  Play a City Elf and you are on the rough side of town, and the humans are out to make your life a living hell.  (Because Humans are punks that way.)

The Human start was normal enough.  What you’d expect.  That was my first run through.  Next I created a forest, i.e. Dalish, elf.  Interesting.  Very fitting.  (I was shocked at how abusive they were to the humans they’d found.)  I then created a Dwarf to see things from that angle.  I picked the ruffian start and man, this is adult stuff.  Your sister is involved in what???  I really liked his dwarven sidekick.  Guy with black cornrow braids?  Reminded me so much of a Vin Diesel type with his attitude, both in voice, manner, and appearances, and the humor evident in his eyes.  Now my wife created a Human Mage and she started out someplace completely different.  (And gets hit on by some Templar guy, who would have killed her, not that he’d want to, “But, hey, what are you doing later?”)  Then she created a City Elf woman, and the story she went through… Wow.  (Her story explains why elves would sooner shoot a Human dead than humor them.)  That’s some heavy hardcore stuff.  Speaking of which, the feather’s on Morrigan’s shoulder armor look incredible.

But I haven’t mentioned the blood.  It’s everywhere.  I mean, get the plastic sheeting out, Patrick Bateman’s coming to visit.  It’s just over the freaking top.  Even arachnids spout blood like some italian fountain and the stuff gets everywhere.  Well, everywhere on you, the corpse, and then forms a puddle under the body.  (Everything else is, thankfully, still pristine.)  The blood is way, way, way over the top.

Now we also haven’t got to the noody caboody parts yet, and the “sex,” so who knows how well done that is.  (Tasteful, or like the blood, off the wall and into the realm of teenage boy fantasies.)

There’s some very adult language and situations, and a lot of blood, but, so far, it’s turned out to be well worth the price.  We give it two thumbs up.


Posted by on November 9, 2009 in Musings


Ahead by a Century

Ahead by a Century

I don’t know why exactly, but I love this song by the Tragically Hip, a Canadian group.

I first heard them, this song, listening to Iceberg on Sirius radio.  After seeing the cool video on YouTube I was wondering if I’d like the rest of their music as much.  (Oddly, sadly, no.  Ahead by a Century remains the singular favorite of mine of theirs.)

“Ahead By A Century”

First we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life
That’s when the hornet stung me and I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century

Stare in the morning shroud and then the day began
I tilted your cloud, you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

That’s when the hornet stung me and I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt tonight, we smoked them out

You are ahead by a century
But this is our life and disappointing you is getting me down.

I think the video is great.  Grainy, artsy, dark.  It’s “light” in the right place, when he’s with his girl in the tree, and then dark, and getting darker afterwards, as she’s doing dangerous things and the group is arriving in the car.  And she knows what’s going on.  You see her seeing him begin to doubt and smiling at him to assure him that everything’s fine.  But it isn’t.  She fiddles with her ring.  She knows they’re coming.  Is she ahead by a century in figuring out life’s tragedies?  Or is there something else going on that I’m not hip enough to get?  Regardless, I love the guitar work and the tone.

So, man, what’s this all about?  This isn’t Facebook.  This isn’t a musical interests blog.  This is a World of Warcraft blog.

Well it sure is.

So there I was, dual speccing my third character.  My Druid, Greenclaw.  He’s been Feral for a long, long, very long time.  And there’s this thing with Anzu, and how you need to heal the Eagle totem… I’ve said too much.  Anyway, I dual specced him into a Tree, i.e. Resto Spec.  But I’d never healed with a Druid before.  I’ve got several HoTs, several direct heals, and I took the glyph selections from Talent Chic as well as a tank-oriented healer talent spec.  I dropped some gold in the Auction House for the i187 healing/caster stuff.  I picked up a ring, and then the Argent Dawn ring.  I crafted myself a Faces of Doom for my off-hand, and grabbed the caster dagger from the Tournament quartermaster.  (Sweet that it’s a Darnassian dagger design.)  And also the caster neck and belt from them as well.  In short, I dropped a ton of mats, seals, and gold, to do it as best I could on a short moment’s notice.  I must be resto NOW.  (Actually, in Feral form, as I tried clearing around Anzu’s summoning spot, the Heroic Level trash mobs thrashed me.  Soloing in normal mode was one thing.  Soloing in Heroic mode, in crafted blues and a couple i200 epics?  Very different indeed.)

But, with the advent of the cross-server PUG, maybe I can start from the beginning, Utgarde Keep, something like that, and learn how to heal.

(My wife’s a druid too, so, together, Heroic Setthik Halls, and Anzu, and more importantly, the Raven God as a mount, shouldn’t be impossible.)

Dude, what’s that have to do with the music lead-in?  What does Anzu have to do with Ahead by a Century?

The two are related in that most “LFG’s” I see in general chat are LFG for Heroic TOC.  Where the hell are the regular folks?  The only people raiding are done with Ulduar?  I’ve never even looked inside.  :/

Is everyone ahead of me, gear/progression, by a century?

(How else could I talk about a video I like and dual speccing into Resto for seemingly my own purposes???)

Anyway.  And since life is fairly fun afterall, let me leave you with Vampire Weekend’s A-Punk.  Makes me wish I was back in UofM, Munich Campus, drinking beer in the Boot Room again, this playing on the jukebox…

We were otherwise listening to Men Without Hats’s Safety Dance back then. 

Way before Heigen stole it.

Ah, those were nights!

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Posted by on November 3, 2009 in Druids, Musings, Raids


Hunka hunka burning sameness

If Elvis were talking about burning love, you’d be thinking “Wow, he’s talking about something remarkable. Something worth singing about. Something he thinks we’d all be interested in knowing about.”

Ooh-hoo-hoo, I feel my temp’rature rising
Help me I’m flamin’, I must be a hundred and nine
Burnin’, burnin’, burnin’ and nothing can cool me, yeh
I just might turn to smoke but I feel fine

Wow, Dude. Something’s rocking his world.

But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about something remarkably average. That’s to say, something with utter sameness, just the paper mask over the face is all there is to set folks apart.

I’m taking about the races in World of Warcraft.

This thought occured to me as I, Honorus, Human Paladin, astride a charger, facing off against this gigantic Tauren astride his massive, armor plated, kodo. And I was thinking “Who are we kidding. In ‘real life’ he’d squash me like a bug.” Comparing mass, he and his mount were like six of me and mine.

But in World of Warcraft, sparring in the tournament, we are 100% identical, this Tauren and I, and our disparate mounts. We have identical health, identical abilities, identical response times. If I were a Gnome, it would be no different. If he were some 30′ tall Titan, riding on two M1A1 Abrams strapped to his feet, it would be no different. Our differences amount to nothing more than a paper mask we wear for Halloween.

If I was going to picture fantasy battles, I’d picture a group of Humans surrounding one Tauren and he’d be swinging a tree trunk side to side blowing them all away. That’s just the level 1 noobs mind you. Because a Tauren is like four times the mass of a human. Give them some advantage due to their stature.

But in World of Warcraft Tauren = Orc = Human = Gnome. I.e. 10 = 8 = 6 = 4.

So it doesn’t matter whatsoever what race you play, they’re all pretty much identical except for certain “flavor style” racial abilities. (Have you noticed how they seriously toned down racials so we’re all the same? Fear Ward anyone?) In the end it’s just a mask you wear.

If I rolled a Tauren, it’s because I wanted to be a Juggernaut. A powerhouse. A force of Nature. But noooo. In effect I’m just a Gnome that can’t squeeze into unusually small hidey holes.

And with the Worgen and Goblins able to become Death Knights (RETCON MOR!) I mean, c’mon. The Worgen are humans who escaped the Scourge behind the Graymane wall, no? Yes, yes, they succumbed to the disease that turned them into werewolf like creatures, but they were never minions of the Lich King. They were in Gilneas, and the Goblins we’ll get to play soon were on some jungle island, and yet, all of a sudden, the Lich King had actually made some of them Death Knights already, once upon a time, too?

So, pretty much, everyone is identical except for class. It is, pretty much (Tauren Paladin anyone??) irrelevant what race you want to play. It’s nothing more than a paper mask you wear. Only the classes are differentiated.

And what a shame. That’s something I think Warhammer got right. And with the introduction of the Slayer, they too have started down the road of everyone can be anything. (The Slayer is the Dwarf equivalent of an Orc unit.)

You know what I’d like? I’d like for Race to matter as much as Class.

Is that too tough to balance for Blizzard? I think the game would be better if they could make the effort and make it work so that race mattered. Instead they’re going the other direction towards homogeneous sameness in everyone and everthing. (Stat consolidation on future gear is only part of the symptoms of this.)

Are we headed to a Hello Kitty Island Adventure kind of game? Suitable for all ages, sexes, cultures, and pulse rates?

Butters: I don’t play World of Warcraft.
Cartman: Butters you said you’re on your computer all the time.
Butters: Ya, but I’m playing “Hello Kitty Island Adventure”
(All stare at Butters)
Cartman: (calmly) Butters go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you.
Butters: (nervously) Oh alright then.

Or not.


Posted by on October 27, 2009 in Musings


It’s me, not you. Not really. It’s you.

I was doing quests in Storm Peaks.  Again.  The intro to the Sons of Hodir quests and I was doing some running around for Thorim.

Once upon a time, that is to say the first three times I did these quests for him, Thorim was an icier Vrykul.

Now, the fourth time running into him, he’s a Titan just like his brother Loken always was.

It’s funny, and good, how often and how much Blizzard subtly messes around with the world improving it, adjusting it, fixing it.  The guards around towns usually always sport something different in their gear sets.

Anyway, Thorim used to look mad, or sullen.

Now he just looks bored and petulant.  Drumming his fingers is a nice touch.

Oh.  Troll on a helicopter.  Been there, done that.  Boring.

Oh. Troll on a helicopter. Been there, done that. Boring.

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Posted by on October 11, 2009 in Musings


Here there be dragons.


We decided to stop in a cafe along the beach for a wine and beer and some shrimp.  Somebody at another table said “It looks like the Loch Ness Monster,” referring to the post-sunset scene.  (I had photographed the sun setting already.)

I got the camera out again, zoomed in to the wash of color on the horizon, and sure enough it did look like Nessie.

Actually, with the right point of reference, it looks a lot like Deathwing coming up in a fire of Cataclysm from the waters of the Maelstrom.

Otherwise it’s the sunset as seen from the beach in Bradenton, FL.


Posted by on October 5, 2009 in Musings


No. No! NOOOOO!!!!!

Here I am.  On vacation down in Florida.  West Coast.  Nice place.  Pool.  Across the street from the Gulf.  Weather started out a little cloudy and wound up being cloudless and warmer than usual for this time of year.

The place also has  Wi-Fi.  So I did what any sane person does, prepare for the rainy day and bring along a laptop.  Loaded with World of Warcraft, of course.

Now I made sure I had the latest patch of Warcraft loaded before we drove down.  I put the laptop in a room by itself and it patched via the home wi-fi connection.  I only run a few add-ons on the laptop, but I grabbed the Curse Client on-line, and once loaded I took it’s recommendations and upgraded the few add-ons I had.

Now Arcarius has been sitting in the Storm Peaks, in a certain, particular, location probably well known to every Hunter capable of taming a Spirit Beast.  There are 5 or so spots where Skoll can be found.  I always park him in the spot where I last saw Skoll.  (When Skoll was otherwise engaged pounding on a Druid who was waiting for a Guildie to come tame him.)

Whatever add-ons I did have loaded on the laptop, they weren’t configured for Arcarius.  (He’s been a not-so-often played character.)  I got him to 80 from 74 with Heirlooms purchased for a 60 Rogue.

So, Wi-Fi connection, I logged into World of Warcraft.  Disconnect.  I didn’t even take a breath before getting disconnected.  This doesn’t look promising.  So I try again.  Success.  I like checking in on Arcarius, first thing, last thing, and at random times, hoping that some day I’ll log on and he’ll be seeing Skoll in a tameable condition.

Log in. Silver Dragon throws a portrait up on my screen.  SKOLL!  (SKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL to borrow from the Brazilian sportscasters.  Grats to Rio btw for winning the Olympics.)

There he is!  ZOMG!  But, wait!  What’s this crap all over my screen.  Bartender has barfed like 6+ bars all over the center of my screen.  (Dang!  I never set it up for Arcarius.)  Oh, no.  No, no, no.  (Wife is relaxing on bed watching the panicked expression on my face.)

I scan the buttons, forward and backward.  I’m on a Griffin.  I dismount and my pet appears.  The white wolf I also like.  So I do a quick pet summon (I found that button.)  I pick the moth, which I’ll abandon, and then see I’ve still got my wolf out.  Great.  Okay, so dismiss.  Dismiss.   Argh, no, Abandon!  Right click the pet bar … to target him.  Okay, targeted, I abandon him.  Tame, tame, tame.  Where is tame?  Okay, so I normally want to drop a trap.  Rare 80 beast, probably hits for a bit.  Trap, trap, trap.  Damn, no trap.  No tame either.  Open Spell Book.  Don’t get too close and aggro before I’m ready.  Tame, tame.  A beastmaster.  Tame, tame, got it.  Tame.  No trap.  No time to worry about it.  There’s 1,000 Hunters after this guy, and it’s in the flight line for popular tourist destinations.  I’ve got to get this done, and now!  Let’s hope for the best.  Through the buttons on the screen I see I’m close enough.  I target Skoll with the Silver Dragon portrait.  I start my tame.  The thing moonfires, prowls, and jumps me.  Ouch.  The taming continues.  Dang he hits hard.   Really hard.  So, which bar is going to win?  The cast bar and the tame, or the health bar and my life?



It was win-win.  I lived, Skoll was tamed.

Now I need to find a good name.

(And some aloe for my sunburned face.  I hit the pool and beach after the taming.)

Woot.  Skoll’s mine.


Posted by on October 4, 2009 in Musings


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