Friday, January 30, 2009

Retirement Homes

I found an interesting post on a Blog (I amaze myself how I find this stuff, sometimes) about outfitting Retirement Homes with LANs, to give the elderly folks something to do as they wait out the remainder of their days on this earth.

If you think about it, most Retirement Homes are very passive places. Old folks sit and watch TV, read the newspaper, or talk quietly among themselves. Or they sit & stare out the window as if wondering who will arrive first: Their kids & grandkids, or the Grim Reaper.

Several years ago I was out door-knocking (I think I was trying to raise money for a charity) and I went into a Retirement Home, thinking the old folks in there would probably be generous and willing to donate to a charity. But the second I walked in and saw all these old folks sitting there, waiting (& you know what they're waiting for), I changed my mind. But by this time I was already well inside the main sitting area, and one of the Orderlies was making his way over towards me.

I looked around at all the old folks just minding their own business and I asked myself what the hell had I been thinking.

And then I saw my Great Aunty. My Mother's Grandmother.

She used to live just a few doors up from us and I'd visit her all the time when I was a young boy. Then...I stopped visiting her. I can't remember why. Maybe it was because she'd been "put in The Home". (How cold does that sound? You "put your parents in a home".) Even though she'd been more of a Grandma to me than my actual Grandma, I hadn't thought about or seen her for years.

So I walked over and sat down next to her and re-introduced myself, because I had no clue if she'd remember who I was. I can't have been more than 12 years old the last time I saw her, and at this time I was a young man in my 20s. I explained how we were related, and sat and talked with her for a little while, although she seemed more inclined to chat with her neighbor than me, and why not? Who was I to her? Just someone who'd walked in off the street, really. I was just someone who popped back into her life for a few minutes, then walked out on her again. Like everyone else I left her there, out of sight out of mind, to be forgotten until...you know.

I'm sorry for everything both my parents went through during my father's last years, that it wasn't a Bam! You're dead! Now get over it! situation. But I'm also glad my father was able to spend his last days, weeks, months on earth in his own home, that he had the dignity of dyign in his own bed. That's how I'd like to go.

Or take one last walk up into the mountains, and not come back down.

Or would I be happy in a Retirement Home if it had a LAN? Would I be content fragging the shit out of my geriatric neighbors? Or would it still weigh heavily on me every time my kids left with my grandkids, that maybe this goodbye is our last goodbye?

PSA

I'd just like to take this opportunity to say...

OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!



Are you still here?
Whadda ya think yer doing?
Get over to their website, NOW!


This is insane. They're releasing this on not just the PC & XBox, but the PSP and the DS! I can't imagine trying to play it on the DS...actually I can, but Damn! When you've got a game like this, you want it on at least a 19" screen.

Damn. Guess I'll be buying two copies of Diablo 3 and two copies of Bloodbowl this year...or next year :P

Messing around

I decided to try a new Blog layout, so I've been messing around with the tools Blogger gives you to accomplish this. I like this layout because it's KISS. I can't stand Blogs with non-scrolling backgrounds that obliterate the text you're trying to read, or try too hard to get your attention. Maybe that's my conservative side coming out. What I also like about this layout is it's one of the very few Blogger has which expands the "entry/post" column with the size of the window.

Now, what about the color of the text? Is the standard black text still okay? What about the blue or the red I used in that previous entry? I'm pretty sure I can still mess with the HTML code to change text color, or just remember to change it here when I post.

Is anyone's Blog missing on the side (in the links) that used to be there? For some reason this new layout killed my regular Blog list while keeping my MOG Blog list. I tried to add back in as many as I could remember, but if I missed yours, or heck, if you read my Blog and just want me to add your Blog to my roll, drop me a line and I'll add it.

That's about it, for now ;)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Getting your fix

A comment over on WWMD about the lengths D&D players will go to get their fix, including trying to play long distance using VOIP tech, inspired me to write this...

DM: Ok, Zygor. Roll to hit, please.
(Sound of dice rolling)
Zygor: Alright! Natural 20!
DM: Again? That's your fifth 20 in a row...not that I'm counting, or accusing you of cheating. But five 20s in a row?
Zygor: Man! I am ON..A..ROLL!!!
DM (sighing): Okay. Fine. Natural 20 it is.
DM (to self): Hmm. Could I? Should I? Yes. Yes, I shall!
DM (out loud): Mwah hah ha!
Zygor: You okay there, man?
DM: Um...er...ahem. Yes. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I'm good. Zygor, because you rolled those five 20s in a row, I need you to make one more throw for me.
Zygor (hesitatingly): Er...okay.
(Sound of dice rolling)
Zygor: It's...a...20?
DM: Are you sure?
Zygor (more confidently): Yep. It's a 20.
DM: Oh. That's too bad. Really. I'm sorry to say this but...
Zygor: Wait! WAIT! My mistake! It's not a 20! It's...a...1?
DM: A 1? You're positive now?
Zygor: Yes! Yes! It's a 1! It's quite clearly a 1! Definitely a 1!
DM: Oh. That's...even worse than the 20. Now not only does your sword break because of how powerful your recent blows have been...
Zygor: It breaks? My sword breaks? Whadda ya mean it breaks? It's a magical sword! It can cut through anything!
DM: Yes, it can, can't it? Which explains why the broken blade so easily penetrates your mithril armor and embeds itself in your stomach. Ooh, that's gotta hurt. Let's see how much.
(Sound of dice rolling)
DM: Oh.
(More dice rolling)
DM: Ooh.
(More dice rolling)
DM: Oh boy. Let's see now...carry the 1...divide by Pi...adjust for the phase of the moon and...Zygor? How much health do you have?
Zygor: Um...158 hit points?
DM: You don't sound too sure.
Zygor: No. No, it's 158. Definitely 158.
DM: That's what I thought too. So, after being stabbed in the belly by your own magical sword you now have 1 hit point left.
Zygor (faintly): 1...hit point...left?
DM: Yep, just the one. Now, as you stand there, dizzily clutching the broken blade protruding from your stomach, your Orc opponent swings his axe and...
(Sound of dice rolling)
DM: Well, whadda ya know? A 20! How about that. Zygor, I'm afraid I've got some bad news for you. Zygor? Zygor?
DM (breaking character): Bob? You there, buddy?
Bob (Zygor no longer): I think I'm going to lie down.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yes, Virginia...

you know the rest, or should ;)

Coming out of Souplantation last night we were walking the kids to the car when The Bunny let out an excited squeal.

"SANTA!!!" she screamed, pointing across the parking lot to where a large, jolly looking fellow with a snowy white beard, a round belly...a red t-shirt? And a fluffy, white headband??? stood next to an old model VW Beetle.

"Santa" locked his car and came over to us so I stepped forward and apologized to him.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I'm sure you get that a lot."

He smiled and said, "that's because I really am Santa. I'm on vacation." And he took something from a pocket. A stack of...business cards? He held one out and I looked at it, and for some reason I decided to let my son take it. Then "Santa" gave a card to The Bunny, or perhaps Liz took hers and passed it on. The kids took their card excitedly and climbed into the car as Santa rejoined his family and headed into Souplantation.

As my son buckled up his seatbelt I took his card from him and looked at it. It had a picture of Santa's smiling face, complete with red hat and white trim (not just a white headband), and had the caption "Santa sees all".

I flipped it over but the back was blank. No phone number. No email. No website. Nada. It wasn't a business card at all, just...I don't know what it was...something for "Santa" to give to the kids, I guess. I'm sure he caused quite a stir inside Souplantation.

As we pulled out of the parking lot we passed Santa's VW Beetle and I pointed it out to my son. "What's the license plate say?"

He looked at it. "Santa I ?" he said

"Santa One," I corrected. "The letter I is one in Roman Numerals."

Sometimes you need a little magic in your life. They help push out those memories of the time when you were a child and you saw Santa. Of course it wasn't the real Santa but a tubby Garbage Collector with a long beard, who didn't take kindly to you calling out "Hi, Santa!" Which is how you found yourself taking refuge in your mum's car while a very angry "Santa" stood outside, screaming at you through the window.

Fortunately last night's Santa behaved more like the real deal, than the belligerent impostor of my childhood.

If you've got a few years under your belt, and a few extra pounds around your waist, and a long, white beard, I think you should be willing to accept the occasional (or even frequent) case of mistaken identity.

Embrace the Santa.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Debuffs in Wizard 101

Card Combat in W101 is not terribly complicated, but there are little tricks of which you might, or might not, be aware. For example, what is the correct order in which you should cast the following three debuff spells, in order to maximize their effectiveness, and why? For the sake of the argument, let's assume you're a Death Wizard facing another Death Wizard.


Take your time now.

I'm not going anywhere.

And I haven't worked out how to do a "more after the Break" thing in my Blog, or I'd put the answer after a "break".

Instead I have to rely on cheap delaying tactics, like this ;)

So, what order do you apply those Debuffs for maximum effectiveness versus another Death Wizard? You must cast Death Prism prior to casting Death Trap. Curse can be cast at any time, but you must cast Death Prism before casting Death Trap.

Why?

Because (currently) debuff spells go off using the LIFO method, that is the last Debuff you cast is the first to go off, while the first Debuff you cast goes off last.

So if you cast Death Trap before Death Prism (as I found out, to my detriment), Death Prism will go off prior to the Trap, thus converting your lovely Death School Damage into Life School Damage. And your Death Trap debuff, the one which increases the amount of Death Damage inflicted by 30%? It does nothing for Life School Damage.

But if you cast Death Prism before Death Trap, the Trap will go off and add 30% more damage to your Vampire Spell, then Death Prism will go off and convert your Death damage to Life, and Life has a boost effect on Death-school Mobs which is why we're using Death Prism ;)

So, Prism before Trap except after...well...never, really :P

P.S. For Bonus Marks, can anyone tell me if the Pips next to the Cards mean anything? Coz I have no idea why they're there. And it might be important. It's not the Pip/Mana cost of each spell, because all of those Debuffs are free to cast, hence the zero in the top left corner of each card.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Death in Wizard 101

I must say, I am enjoying my Death Wizard. I haven't specialized in any other Schools, other than investing a few Training Points to get access to Shields/Wards to help better protect me against them. Death Wizards are very versatile, and very soloable, in that their (or at least my) primary attack returns half the damage I inflict back to me, but as health, so a 750 point attack will heal me for 375. It's not a lot, but when combined with Wards to reduce incoming damage it's enough to keep me going, and going, and going.

Like Saylah I find myself soloing a lot of W101's content, and a Death Wizard is very well suited to do just that. I even soloed The Ironworks Instance in Marleybone, twice. There were a couple of close calls but nothing so close that I was freaking out. Usually it was just my Health falling below 500 points before I was able to deal out the finishing blow.

Your Soloing ability is also greatly enhanced by use of RMT or Crown Gear, and my Death Wizard has the 25 RMT Cloak and Boots, but not the fugly Hats. After that last horribly inappropriate outfit, as much as it would have benefited me, I couldn't even bring myself to buy the 30 RMT Hat, which looks not unlike the Jester-style Hat I had at level 12. That Cap of the Banshee is my current Hat, which you'll get to see later.

I thought about farming the Boss-dropped Death School Hat, so I looked up where it dropped. It only drops off the final Marleybone Boss, Moewiarty himself, who is located on the 15th Floor of the Big Ben Instance. Yeah, like I'm really going to "farm" him, running the Instance numerous times, just to get a hat which is not only inferior to the RMT Hat...but still makes me look like a freaking Court Jester!!!
The game rewarded my adherence to style with the Cap of the Banshee:
While it may not give me a Health Buff like the RMT & Boss Hats, and there's no extra chance of a Power Pip, nor increased Accuracy, it does come with a +4% Attack Bonus to my Death spells, and a +8% Resistance to Death magicks. Ok, so that's not as good as the overall Offense and Defensive bonuses of the RMT Hat, but who cares? It's a freaking Bowler! Not only does it look totally cool, but it dropped in the very same color you see in the picture. It came matched for my outfit! And, I may be the only one to say it, but I think it completes the look, and my Death Wizard looks like a real Uber bad ass in it :)
John Shadowblade...Undead Hunter?
Damn straight!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What the??? Where'd that come from?

Drat that Mogs and her newly discovered archery skills.

Six random things about me.

Random? How does one decide what constitutes randomness?

Just like Mogs,

1. I also like to hunt (but haven't for quite some time). My implement of choice is a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded for bunny, of course ;)

2. I can shoot a bow too, and am purty darn good at it, or I used to be. I could reliably put an arrow into a 4" circle at 20 metres (approx. 65 feet).

3. I once beat a semi-professional swimmer at his own game.

4. I could climb before I could walk. Classic example was my mum coming into the living room and finding me sitting on top of our television set.

5. I once helped out a mate by replacing his car's broken tail-light with a unit I found...in a used car lot...on the back of another car.

6. English is my first (& only) language, and I love to read, but I was terrible at English (the subject) in High School.

Mogs? Do I need to Tag someone else now? I could Tag my wife, but I think she's given up on blogging. Xinh, however, she's pretty reliable about doing these things.

Xinh? Tag! You're it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

What happens in Vegas...

doesn't always stay in Vegas.

Friday afternoon we dropped the dog off at the in-laws (who already had the kids) and the FIL pissed Liz off by making fun of the list she gave him, such as locking the dog in her crate at night. We should have had JE watch A Night at the Museum with him, so he could see what happens to people who don't follow directions. Of course they didn't lock in the dog in her crate on Saturday night, so she repaid their "kindness" by taking a dump outside their downstair's bathroom. They still thought she was a good dog.

Saturday morning we were off to Vegas, and we made pretty good time right up until we hit Primm, Whisky Pete's, and...the Fashion Outlet. After returning a Coach purse for Liz that she'd bought last time we were in Vegas, along with visiting numerous other stores where more items were purchased which will (probably) be returned at a later date, we resumed our journey. Thanks to our GPS the trip was fairly uneventful, except thanks to the almost, never-ending construction going on around The Strip we missed our turn-off to the Monte Carlo. We had to drive a mile further up the road then come back down The Strip, where we encountered more construction, road works, etc.

And let's not forget the Vegas pedestrians who are worse than the elderly Chinese folks you run into (or would, if it wasn't illegal) in Chinatown.

Oh look, we need to turn right here, and we have a Green Right Turn arrow but...there's people crossing the road. Both roads. People are both crossing the road in front of us, and crossing the road into which we want to turn. Then there was the woman in the car ahead of us who refused to turn at a Green Right Turn arrow. Possibly because the other lights were Red. Maybe because she'd found herself in a Right-turn only lane and she wanted to go straight ahead. We tooted her, the car next to her tooted her, Pedestrians on the sidewalk even tried to wave her around the corner. Finally she made her turn...just as the light changed and all the pedestrians began crossing the road. After Liz zipped through a gap in the pedestrians (don't ask how an SUV zips through a gap between pedestrians, it just does) we made our right-hand turn, and found the woman pulled over to the side of the road. Yup. Lost.

We checked into our room and found not a single, King-sized bed as requested but two Queens. Not only that, but for a non-Smoking room on a non-Smoking floor, it sure smelled like someone had been smoking. And look, here's an ash tray on the table. An ash tray, in a non-Smoking room. Just lovely.

I called down to the front desk and was informed they had no other King-sized bedrooms left on non-Smoking floors. So we took what they did have. Our second room turned out to be on the third floor, at the very end of the hall, and had a fantastic view of the Monte Carlo's second floor roof top. Our previous room had been on the 22nd floor, right off the elevator lobby, so I was pleased to get a room which would see zero foot traffic, and indeed it did prove remarkably quiet.

We went downstairs, hit the Casino, and found the Jackpot Dance Party machines that we'd enjoyed playing last time (it has a mini Bonus game that pops up occasionally and gives you a chance to win extra credits). Unfortunately we only found two of this particular machine, and both were being played, so we found a couple of other machines that looked like fun and settled down. We don't go to Vegas to get rich, we go to have fun, except these two machines weren't fun, and we were losing our money too quickly, so Liz went in search of a different machine while I waited for the waitress to return with the beers we'd ordered.

While waiting for our beers I watched another woman play a different machine, and a combination of a long wait for our beers, my non-playing, and my observation of this other woman playing managed to draw the attention of Security, because suddenly I had a large guy standing over me asking me in a jovial, but very direct, no-nonsense manner, "Where is your Player's Club card, and why aren't you playing?"

Now I've done some things in my life before which should have attracted the attention of security, but never did, so their arrival this time greatly amused me and I literally laughed out loud. I explained that I was waiting for the waitress to return with the beers I'd ordered, and that as soon as she showed up I was going to search for my wife who'd gone off to play another machine.

Taken by my accent the first Security guy (there were two of them) responded that as soon as he got home he was going to turn on the BBC. But the second Security guard had a better ear for accents and had me pegged as an Aussie, and he chastised his friend. We chatted for a couple of minutes then the cocktail waitress turned up with my beers, lending credence to my story. "Here's my beers," I said, tipping the waitress. "Now I just need to find my wife." The waitress remember Liz and told me she was just around the corner, and she was. My wife had been sitting right on the other side of my bank of games, and judging by the grin on her face, she'd over-heard my close encounter of the Security kind, too ;)

After playing our new machines for a while I was up a couple of dollars but Liz had lost several dollars so together we were a few dollars in the hole. I'm not trying to make light of our losses. We go to have fun not get rich, but we don't plan to lose our life savings either, so we play the Penny Slots. Yep, we're real high rollers, we are ;)

Actually I did play Blackjack once at $5 a hand. I'd allowed myself a stake of $50 before I knew what the table limit was, and even after seeing it was $5 a hand I still decided to play. I'd won a few hands but lost more and I was down to my last $10 when the cards started falling my way again. Half an hour later I'd won more hands than I'd lost and I had $50 in front of me once again, at which point I stood up, tipped the dealer $5 and walked away.

So now we just play the Penny Slots.

We played for a while then I went to the Box Office and secured our tickets to see Lance Burton, then Liz and I hit the Monte Carlo's buffet. We leisurely stuffed ourselves on all the fine food available, then with full bellies, wandered across the casino and into the Lance Burton Theater. Lance was pretty good, although I think both Liz and I would have liked to see Penn & Teller, if only they weren't so freaking expensive. As a bonus, there was a very humorous half-time show by a juggler and his stage hand.

After the show Liz and I wandered up The Strip but didn't get much further than Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile Shops, where we strolled around, watched the indoor thunder storm, and bought more stuff.

Sunday morning we sampled the breakfast buffet at the Monte Carlo before heading up the I-15 to yet another Outlet Mall where...we returned the pair of jeans we bought at the Outlet Mall at Primms.

We also did a spot more gambling, again on the Penny slots, again on the machine we like playing. There was a lady playing at the machine Liz had been playing the previous day (& losing), so Liz sat down at the machine which I'd been playing (& winning) and fed in $5. Within minutes (or so it seemed), Liz won a 250 credit Jackpot (Woohoo! $2.50! Yes! In your face!) then the bonus game came up and Liz won another 500 credits.

That was about when the lady next to Liz decided to leave. I didn't have much luck with her old machine and by the time we walked away Liz had won back everything she'd lost the day before, but now I was down a couple of dollars. As I said, we play to have fun, we won some, we lost some, we broke even, we had fun :)

Sunday night we ate at the Bellagio, then we killed our feet some more walking up The Strip before riding The Deuce back down to the Monte Carlo.

That morning we'd discovered another good thing about our room, it faced north, so when the sun came up it beat down on the opposite side of the building instead of shining in our window. This made sleeping in very easy, and both Sunday & Monday morning we slept late. Sunday we made the breakfast buffet at the Monte Carlo with just half an hour to spare, and before we were done eating the lunch selections had already been brought out, so we got the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wanted! Dead or Alive!

BugHunter has a post up about a 'date' he & his wife recently went on to Body Worlds. That may not sound like a great date to you, but BH & his wife apparently had a great time (other than the delays, long lines, and crappy customer service), and I would have thought it was pretty cool, too (other than the delays, long lines, & crappy customer service).

When I did a search for Body Worlds, one of the links that popped up caught my eye: How much is your body worth?

Intrigued, I clicked on this Cadaver Calculator, and this is what I found out:

What about you? Are you worth more Dead than Alive?

*Edit* After answering the 20-question quiz you will be prompted to sign up for something like Mingle (an online Dating service), but in small print at the bottom will be a link you can click to say "No thanks, take me to my quiz results."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Welcome to the new regime

Now with hand-picked press conferences.

According to Chicago Sun-Times Journalist Carol Marin, many of the journalists at press conferences for President-elect Barack Obama (what? You thought this was about G.W.?) "don't even bother raising our hands any more to ask questions because Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who've been advised they will be called upon that day."

So certain Journalists at the press conferences are pre-approved to ask questions, and if you're not on that pre-approved list, don't even bother trying to get the President-elect's attention.

Yeah, so what if this has been going on down through the ages? So what if G.W. did it, too. It's too late to go Bush Bashing (unless you've got a Holden Ute, then I'm in), we're entering the Age of Obama, baby!

And all I have to say to that is: Don't blame me. I voted Libertarian.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And here we go again...

It's the twelfth of January, already. How did that happen? We're almost two full weeks into the year, just like that.

This year promises to be a big one, too. I'm not talking about any of you, I mean for me. I was born in 1969 so this is the year I turn 40.

Thank heavens there's a couple of mates who'll hit the big Four-Oh before me ;)
Don't bother clicking their links, the slack buggers haven't updated their Blogs in donkey's :P

40 years old.

Technically I'm already in my 40th year, because each birthday actually celebrates the culmination of another year since you were born. And because I was born on August 30th, and there's just 7 1/2 months until my birthday, if you believe life begins at conception then I'm already over 40 years old.

What have I done during these past 40 years that's actually note worthy?

When I was about 4-5 I fell out of a tree, dropping approximately 15' to the ground where I struck my head on a concrete lawn edging. Oh yes, there was blood.

At maybe 8-10 years old I pushed a basketball out to my little sister and probably saved her from drowning.

As a teenager I won a couple of ribbons for athletics in High School, and even represented my school in an inter-school tournament.

I also finished second in a regional marathon (my first & only), then waited around for the presentation ceremony where I discovered that just as in life, there's no prize for coming in second; you're just the first loser.

At 19 years old I crashed my grandparents' car into a very large tree. The tree survived, the car did not.

At 20 years old I competed in the Victorian State Karate Championships, where I had the dubious distinction of being eliminated by the eventual Winner of my Division. It wasn't really that big of a deal. Just like in Karate Kid, anyone with their Sensei's approval could compete :P

In my late 20s I flew to the U.S. to meet a woman I'd met on the internet. Later we got married, and eventually had two kids.

I also completed my University degree here in the States. I graduated in absentia, but my parents were still proud of me.

And that's been my life, so far.

What haven't I done?

The only goal I set for myself (that I recall) which I never actually accomplished was to race Puffing Billy.

I also don't own a classic (pre-70's) Ford Mustang, but there's still time for that ;)

Oh, I also never became a millionaire by 30 years of age, because the system I had for betting on Horse Races worked brilliantly in the data gathering stages, but failed miserably when it was actually put into practice.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Now I know...

why Garfield, and Bob Geldof & The Boomtown Rats don't like Mondays.

You know what's worse than opening a pistachio nut and thinking it's moldy?

Discovering the "fuzz" on the nut is actually the remnants of a cocoon spun by a little grub. And look! There it is! Roasted in its little niche, inside the pistachio nut.

You know what's worse than that?

Looking at the pile of empty shells from the pistachios you've already eaten.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Inappropriate work attire

My Life Wizard made it to Moo Shu, but because my son and I haven't been playing together as much my son's Wizard is still stuck back in Marleybone, so I rolled a Death Wizard, a big, bad Necromancer to play in the meantime. He's actually kind of fun. Whereas my Life Wizard has low damage but the ability to heal himself, my Necromancer can heal himself by sucking the life right out of his opponent. Other than my Life Wizards (yes, I have two :P) he's the only Wizard I've played that beat Golem Tower before hitting level 10. In fact I did it twice in a row with my Necromancer, with him at just level 5.

At level 12 you begin a chain quest to get a totally new outfit, and I was really looking forward to completing this quest as every piece is almost always an upgrade.

Here's my Necromancer before equipping his new level 12 Quest pieces.

Prior to this I had a Black robe with Purple Trim, and I would have dyed this one the same, but I figured I was getting an upgrade soon so I didn't need to waste the Gold, likewise with the Hat. The Boots were originally black so I didn't bother dying them.

Then I completed the quest chain and got my new clothes. Alright! Let's see what my Necromancer/Death Wizard looks like in his new clothes!!!

What the fuck is this?! Excuse me! I'm a Necromancer! A Master of the Undead! I can't go running around looking like this! What the hell were the designers thinking? I know this is a game targeting the kiddies, but come on!

Actually, I'm keeping the Robe, but the obscenely tall & pointed hat, with the flower on the side? Uh uh. The shoes can go, too. It's a good thing that quest chain provides you with a decent chunk of XP (I leveled twice while doing it) because the Quest Rewards (for a Necromancer) suck. The hat would provide me with 14 more Health and +3% Resistance to Death Magic, while the Boots would have me exchange +3 Dmg for +2% Resistance to Death Magic (same Health, before & after). I can live without that. I might go dye my new Robe though, if it's not too expensive :P

Friday, January 02, 2009

When do you let go?

For too long JE had training wheels on his bike, and it was far too rarely that he actually went out and rode. I knew I'd been a poor father when picking up the Bunny from Preschool I saw several of her 4 y/old classmates riding around the playground, on 2-wheel bikes. Oops! Big Oops.

I don't know how old I was when my father taught me to ride a 2-wheel bike, but I never had a bike with training wheels; I went straight from Trike to Bike. I remember being envious of the younger kids with training wheels on their bikes, even though I could already ride a 2-wheeler. I remember talking with one girl who said her Dad had taken one of the training wheels off her younger brother's bike, but she said he didn't even need one training wheel because she'd seen him riding his friends' 2-wheel bikes with no problems.

So when I figured it was time for JE to lose the training wheels, I just took one of them off. That was actually a mistake. Instead of trying to balance, JE would just lean over to the training wheel side. So I took that wheel off too, then holding his seat or handle bars I trotted along beside him while he freaked out. It became almost impossible to get him back on the bike. I had to tell myself not to give in, not to put the training wheels back on.

In a local Thrift Store Liz and I discovered a pre-loved Razor Scooter which looked like it still had quite a few rides left in it. I figured this was a good way for JE to learn to balance on two wheels, or more to the point, to have the confidence in his own ability to balance on two wheels. At first he'd be almost constantly pushing off with one foot, but as his confidence grew he began scooting for longer and longer distances between pushes. We got our daughter a scooter of her own, too, so with both kids having Scooters, and Southern California having somewhat mild winters (except when it pours down raining, which isn't that often), the kids were able to get out and ride a lot.

Every now & then I'd put JE on his bike, and holding onto his seat and running alongside him, we'd do a couple of laps up & down the driveway. Then I realized the little guy had outgrown his old bike; his knees were almost up around his ears as he pedaled, even with the seat fully raised up. It was time to get him a new bike.

With a donation from one Aunty we bought JE a new, bigger bike for Christmas, and as small as it was, it was still pretty tough getting it into and out of the back of the SUV (it came pre-built) then wrestling it into our storage closet until Christmas. Naturally when the big day arrived it was pouring rain, so JE had to wait until the next day to go out on his new bike.

But when he did, what progress he'd made!

I ran along beside/behind him, not quite holding his seat, and he'd ride from one end of the driveway to the other (probably 50 metres or so), then turn around, sometimes on his own, and ride back. Occasionally I'd catch him from toppling over, but more often than not he'd catch himself. He was wobbling all over the place, but he wasn't going down.

And I found myself in a situation that as a parent, I'll have to face quite a few more times in the future, with both of my children.

Letting go.

I'm sure my son can ride by himself without my help. He's already demonstrated that he can turn 180-degrees and right the bike before tipping over. He has trouble getting started without my help, but I seem to recall that was a problem I faced myself when learning to ride. I tried to show him how to push off while standing on one pedal, much like you do on a scooter, but he preferred to start riding while already seated, with me helping him maintain balance. I also recall I used to lean my bike against the fence, climb on, then begin pedaling while simultaneously pushing my bike off the fence.

My son can ride his bike by himself, the issue at hand is him having the confidence to do it all by himself, and not losing that confidence when he takes his first fall, but getting straight back on and riding again. But that's not going to happen if I don't let go.

As parents we need to learn to let go; we need to let our children spread their wings and fly. They'll always be our babies, but they won't always be children.