Dragon Soul – Yor’sahj the Unsleeping Strategy

Yeah yeah.

It’s been eight squillion years since I posted. It’s hard to post about being able to balance your life and WoW when you *can’t* balance your life and WoW. And that sucks. And actually is a bit shameful. But anyhow.

So we tried out Dragon Soul last night and (of course) WTFPWNED the elemental guy cause he’s easy. Ridic easy. *Chronicles* of Ridic easy. Then we tried to play volley ball with Warlock Zon’ozz (what is *with* the names???) and that wasn’t exactly hard, but it was getting a bit frustrating, so we decided to try Yor’sahj after our break. He’s not that bad, either, and here’s what we learned.

The Story

He stands in the middle and spawns three oozes, each in a different flavour. Each flavour of ooze does something nasty. You only get to kill one of the three oozes, thus eliminating its nastiness, but then he absorbs the other two and you have to deal with it. The key is to create a priority list of which flavour to kill, and then figure out ways to deal with the various combination of leftover flavours. Oh and, he spawns the oozes at the edge of the room and they squidge their way over to him. If you don’t kill at least one before it gets to him, he’ll absorb all three and that sucks. I guess it’s possible (with enough deeps) to kill more than one ooze, but we didn’t get that far in our experimentation last night.

Oh and he does a stacking debuff on the tank that’s not awful, but does mean the tanks have to taunt back and forth every three stacks or so. (We managed up to six stacks, but it wasn’t pretty).

The Ooozes

Purple = AMG KILL IT NAO. Causes healers to asplode. Healers do not like to be asploded.

Green = Posion! Spread more than 4 yards apart, but not too far!

Yellow = Boss AoE WTFPWN. Cuddle up on the boss’ but for AoE heals. Pray. Pray harder.

Black = Spawns a majillion adds. Cuddle up on boss butt so all the adds come to centre, AoE down. AoE heal.

Red = Chain fire. Hurts like a mofo, so cuddle up in the boss’ butt. (Seeing a pattern yet?)

Blue = Mana ball! Kill the fuck out of the mana ball! Kill it faster! AMG KILL IT FASTER I NEED MAH MANAZ BACK!

The Strategy

Our kill priority was Purple – Green – Yellow – Black. We managed to remember this by (loosely) relating it to gear quality. Epic > Uncommon > BoA > Vendor Trash. (Yeah yeah it’s not perfect. Sue me.)

Tank him in the centre. When the oozes spawn, have one person call out which flavour we’re killing. Everyone, including the tank, runs over to it and kills the fuck out of it before it hits the boss. Then we (usually) cuddle up in the boss’ ass to deal with whatever is left.

The biggest issue we faced was having four caster dps. That was nasty when the mana ball was up. Our offtank would run over and get all up in the mana ball to help kill it. We also had a healer druid ninervate one of the other healers to weather the storm while we waited for our warlocks and mages to wand the mana ball to death.

We did not (thank you Jeebus and all the RNG Gods) get the Purple-Red-Green flavour combo. This is (by all reports) particularily nasty as you KILL THE FUCK out of the purple and then are left with cuddle for Red but spread the hell out for Green. Sounds ugly.

We got him to about 30% after four or five tries last night, he’ll be dead and dropping loots tonight. Hope this helps!

Talk to Me

So, we’re trying a little experiment in our guild. We’ve shaken up the raid schedule a little bit on order to get more of a focus on clearing 25 man content and to keep that good old raid momentum moving from week to week. A suggestion was made by some guildies that maybe we could structure our raid weeks different, and the officership decided to give it a try – despite the reservations of some guildies and some officers. (And me.)

Our old raid system was a “two on, one off” sort of thing. We’d raid two weeks, usually 6 days a week, then have one week off where there would be no scheduled raids. You could PuG any content you liked, do your PvP, your farming, chill with your fam – do whatever you needed to do on those off weeks. We raided pretty hard during our on weeks, but never had a set schedule – just some 25 mans and some random 10 mans, whatever we were feeling like doing whenever that week.

I liked this system because the time off was nice. I disliked this system because of the lack of focus and structure. The opinions in our guild varied, but most people really seem to like that week off – it’s really helpful in managing raider burnout. It’s why we have that system in the first place.

We are in the second week of a trial run of a new system. (We’re expecting to go with this new system until mid-December.) Under this new system, we raid three 25 mans a week, and two 10 mans a week. (We raid slighly different days every other week, so as to make sure that if people have one set day a week they absolutely cannot raid, they can still make at least some raids.) The 10 mans are completely optional and arranged so that if you decide to not go to the 10 mans, you can have four consecutive days off in a week. The idea here was not only to have set raid days, but to really focus on 25 mans, as well as to give people some time off during the week, now that we don’t have off weeks.

Results have been mixed.

We have some people who like the structure and focus of the new system, but we have some (vocal) people who really want their off weeks back and who are feeling even more burnt out after two weeks of this new system than they are under the old system.

I understand that just because a raid is (repeatedly emphasised) as completely, totally, guilt-free and optional doesn’t mean that people will not feel any pressure to attend them. And I understand that even with four days off in a week (two of those days being weekends – which may or may not need to be Family Time) that there may not be enough time to get the gold and mats you need to keep raiding. (Though I think Gevlon might have a thing or two to say abbout that.) And I also know that I myself am not raiding because I’m out here on the Bald Prairie, working, so I’m disconnected from being able to judge my own level of burnout or monitor others in person.

I’m witholding my final judgement on the effectiveness of the new raid schedule. I’m going to keep observing and listening to people and collecting data and viewpoints. I think that this experiment should at least run another two weeks to really judge it.

So, in the spirit of gathering data – how do you schedule your raids, O Great WoW Blogspherizens? Do you have off weeks? How do you manage raid burnout? What do you think of our raid scheduling, both the new and the old? Talk to me, it’s lonely out here.

Oh, Not This Again

So, the lure of the wild has called. The call of the wild has lured. I am heading back into the frontiers and wilderness to experience this physical, natural science we call geology in all it’s glory. Oh, and there will be potash.

I won’t be gone long, (Field Season 3.5 The Search for OH GOD THIS CAMP IS DRY OH SWEET JESUS WHYYYY????) but I don’t know exactly what kind of time and internets connectivity I’m going to have. There is likely to be some blogular whining about how I can’t play Warcraft and how much I miss my guild and how my attempts to reach the gold cap are falling behind.

I will miss the Good Ship Imposs. I will try and stay connected via out forums, and hopefully someone will take the time to say “hey” every now and then. I will miss the blog communities that I have become a tangential part of. I will miss my my home and my cats and my better half.

On the plus side, I now have both coveralls and a winter coat with my name stitched on them. 8 years of University have finally paid off!!

When In Doubt, NINJA!

So, I wanted to talk a little about some healing experimentation I’m doing, but I’m lazy and when my blog reader coughed up this lovely nugget from Amber of I Like Bubbles, I figured why waste the energy? Plus, it allows me to do some shameless plugging for my blogging guildies. And, as a lovely side bonus, it introduced me to the new blogger who started the whole thing! Hi there Jessabelle of Miss Medicina!

Thank you Amber for just being awesome and a general inspiration!

View the whole crazy link round-up here!

Kelynaria, (a.k.a Amerya, a.k.a. Big Daddy G), your treeness has been tagged!
Myrah, I know you don’t WoW blog very much, but let’s hear a spacegoat’s point of view! (OMG! Myrah has accepted my challenge! Check out her reply here.)

Your mission, should you two chose to accept it:

Post this questionnaire, with your answers, on your blog. Pick the healing class you know most about (or is the focus of your blog) for the questionnaire, and then send it over to another healing blogger you know and love who heals with a DIFFERENT class. Include a link to the blogger who sent you the questionnaire, as well as a link to the blogger to whom you are sending it.

Onward to the questioneering!

  • What is the name, class and spec of your primary healer?
    Maegwen, the Holy Priest.
  • What is your primary group healing environment?
    Raids, both 10 and 25, with a healthy does of 5 mans. Practically never PvP and absolutely never arena.
  • What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why?
    Circle of Healing (a.k.a CoH). Cause I’m laaaaaazy. Though, Prayer of Mending (PoM or “bum heal” is a very close second).
  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
    lolwell. Because seriously, lolwell.
  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? Versatility and usefulness. Tank healer? Sure! Raid healer? Sure! Buffer? Why not! Pewpew? Of course!
  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? Cloth. Splat!
  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel is, in general, the best healing assignment for you?
    Float healing or healing one specific group of people (i.e. melee on XT).
  • What healing class do you most enjoy healing with and why?
    Tree droods have nice compliments to priest heals. Plus, we have a lot of them and I’ve grown fond of them, they don’t want my loots (much) and having more than one around gives me the giddy feeling I’m at a baptist revival. (And brez. Woo brez!)
  • What healing class do you least enjoy healing with and why?
    Healadins. Jesus christ getting a bunch of -adins of all stripes to get their shit together and buff and aura and then not have anyone in the raid whine about the buffs is like fifteen percent of my nightly raid headache.
  • What is your worst habit as a healer?
    Just one? Uhm … prolly a tie between my clicking playstyle and my general lack of attention to my *own* health.
  • What is your biggest pet peeve about healing while in a group environment?
    Lack of concern for the healers in terms of situational awareness. I’ll bring this mob right to the healer! Maybe I’ll run right at them during light bomb! Or eye beams! Healers love eye beams!
  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
    I think trees have a few more tricks up their branches than priests. And I miss my OP CoH. But overall, I think we’re quite good at what we do.
  • What tools do you use to evaluate your performance as a healer?
    Is anyone dead because of my fail? No? Ok, cool. I also check overhealing meters from time to time just to make sure I’m not too far up on them.
  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
    I don’t know, to be honest. Maybe that they’re hard to play?
  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
    Binding heal seems to get forgotten a lot. Mana management is a little harder for priests just learning – at least in my experience. I’ve watched a lot of new healers in all the classes learn and not “panic healing” is a big one for everyone.
  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
    I’m not always on the top – and I’m fairly high up on overheal, but that’s not a bad thing, lol.
  • Haste or Crit and why?
    Crit – it seems to have slightly better synergy with my spec and playstyle. Though I wouldn’t say no to assloads of Haste either.
  • What healing class do you feel you understand least?
    Shamans. Shamans in general are a little confusing for me. Though, I used to say that about paladins as well.
  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
    Errr …. DBM. I mostly WoW naked. I am toying with Grid to see if that gives me any massive improvements. A story for another day!
  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
    Not really, I like to load up on int, but a good balance is best for priests. Which is nice in some ways, but aggrivating in others.
  • Can you tell I’ve been focusing more on my healer and less on my hunter these days?

    Post Scriptum: Updated Blogroll. Observe!

    Real Life Crushing Blow

    So, I guess I’m not anywhere near my RL def cap. Might be that I’m BM specced IRL and I don’t need a bloody def cap! Might just be that I’m kind of clumsy, too. Or might just be the RNG boss critting me.

    I was washing dishes last Monday (I know, so long ago!) night right before bed and there was (unbenknownst to me) a broken glass in the sink. One bone-deep slash down the inside of my thumb, two bloody dish towels, one nearly fainting Significant Other, four hours in the Emergency room and three stitches later, I’m trying to drive myself back home through a terrible rainstorm in the wee hours of the morning and thinking that it’s a damn good thing it’s our week off raiding cause I won’t be able to play WoW for a while. (I also got the tetanus shot buff. Thankfully they’ve changed to tooltip from the last time I got it. “Tetanus shot now applied discreetly in the arm.” is such an improvement.)

    I’ve always had a morbid fear of losing the use of my hands. It’s likely because so much of my life as I know it is tied up in the use of my hands – I’m a gamer, a writer, a craftsperson. (It’s also highly influenced by cultural attitues towards disability – but that’s more than I can tackle right here, right now.) I could likely still end up doing quite a few things in my chosen field if I became permanently disabled, but if I intended to continue to pursue my hobbies, I would have to make some series changes. It’s easy for me – from my temporarily able-bodied place of privledge – to not really think about these things. I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to manage to raid, to write my notes at work, to be able to properly dress and groom myself. Something that I had always academically realized but never viscerally understood -that my able bodied status is something that I both take for granted and something that could be revoked very easily – was re-emphasized to me this week.

    I have often stated (indeed a large portion of the blog is based on the assumption) that “gamers” are people too. That the label is no longer one applied to pale-skinned, poorly socialized doods living in basements and consuming vast amounts of processed foods. I am a gamer. My better half is a gamer. Many of my very best friends are gamers and we represent a pretty accurate sampling of the variations of humanity. (Well, some of them. We’re all from a pretty small range of socio-economic classes.) So it stands to reason that there would be people of all ranges of ability who would also identify as gamers and my injury prompted me to wonder what the gaming industry was doing to make sure that the dollars of people with disabilities were as well spent as the next person’s. (I’m not going to be so naive as to say that game developers should be accomodating people with disabilities due to some altruistic notions. It would be a wonderful world if they did – but it’s not and they don’t. Approximately 20% of the general population is disabled in some form or another, so it’s a sensible assumption that a company would in some way want to try to capture a portion of that market niche.)

    I know that Blizz had recently come out with a colour blind setting. Poking around on Able Gamers I saw that there was general approval for Blizzard and their efforts to make the game more acessable. (I also like this suggestion by Gamasutra of having a “sound radar” available for people with hearing difficulties.) Bizz looks like they’re making taking to the community of gamers with disabilities a priority – I was very interested to read this interview of Tom Chilton aka Kalgan by Able Gamers. It makes me very happy to see Able Gamers getting a lot of very good face time with some higher-ups at Blizzcon. This particular interview does open up some good conversations about how to balance the game in terms of difficult level that will challenge and engage players of all play styles as well as being inclusive towards gamers with disabilities.

    I’m glad to see Blizz taking an interest in making their game appealing to an ever wider demographic. I know that this is often bemoaned as “catering to the casuals” and “making the game too easy” but it’s a sound market strategy on Blizz’ part. It also leads them to think about people who are too easily marginalized and forgotten about in the gaming world and to consider the fact that people of all abilities may want to play their games. (It also highlights Blizz’ clever strategy of letting mod developers do their R&D for them. I likes.) I applaud Blizzard in their efforts and I encourage people to continue to give their feedback to the Devs. Its seems that they do listen and they do have the time and the resources to act on some of the suggestions.

    Maybe I should email them my list of suggestions. Certainly couldn’t hurt!

    Post Scriptum: The gold making business is going well. Thanks to a guildie I have a good supply of eternals and my income is stable and high. (ish.) When I decided to strive for the gold cap I had just over 5k gold on my bank toon. (I keep about 500g on each of my “working” toons. So there’s ~2k scattered around that I’m not really counting in my quets to get the gold cap.) I’m now up to 17k!

    Do You Like This Colour On Me?

    So, I’ve been thinking about giving myself a bit of a make over. I’m thinking about turning my blue elf ears in for something a little more … green. Not a faction change, not a racial reroll. I’m very happy where I am and I love my toons the way they are. What I’m thinking about aiming for is the Warcraft Econ Wall of Fame.

    I pay attention to gold making (note: not gold farming) blogs and I follow their tips and use both a few addons and my own ingenuity to make enough money that I can raid, have some very nice craftable epics, epic flying for the toons I want it on and enough to raid comfortably. I enjoy the AH mini game that Blizzard has provided us. I’ve always enjoyed in-game money making, as a matter of fact. I’ve spent a lot of my time in the Zelda universe hacking away at random stands of grasses (hoo! ahh! hiya!) trying to fill my rupee wallet to the top to buy all those lovely goodies. (Yes, that’s farming. But there’s no AH in Hyrule.) I had some very nice little businesses going in the MMO I played before Warcraft. I always got a giggle out of setting up my little shop and selling off some epic staff for a hugenormous amount of cash.

    I also run my guild bank. I keep track of what people donate to it, and I keep track of what sort of items are going out of it, and make sure that we have enough of the items that the guild needs to raid. (I could write at least two more blog posts talking about how and why we provide raid consumables to our raiders and every effect that has on our raid progression ranging from mollycoddling our raiders and making them lazy to providing items they would otherwise need time off of raiding to farm. A thought for another day!) I sell off items over time and I use various crafting tricks to transform less valuable items into more valuable ones. Interestingly enough, I personally have a little bit more money than our nearly 80-person guild does. So there is work to be done, at least for the Guild Vault.

    The thing is, I don’t make the AH mini-game my focus. I sell off some stuff, keep my eye on a few markets and dabble here and speculate there. My focus is guild leading and raiding and every now and then I like to play the game and just have some simple fun, so I don’t give everything I have to obtaining the Goblin Achievement. I know quite well that I could max out my gold if I wanted it. I know I could max out the gold in the Guild Vault as well. (That poses an interesting question, by the way. Does the Guild Vault have a gold cap? Is it the same as the player gold cap? For the same reasons? Inquiring and non-technically-computer-savvy people want to know!)

    I’m not going to change my gaming focus from raiding, but I am going to get myself a pair of nice long, green goblin ears to wear from time to time, and see if I can harvest the hard earned gold of the elemental grinders of the server. I don’t expect to see myself on the WoW Econ Wall of Fame anytime soon, but I’m definitely going to see how close I can get!

    Plus, it’s one of the things I need to do win Warcraft!

    Post Scriptum: WordPress hates me and didn’t publish any of my pre-scheduled posts this weekend. It was Turkey Day here in Canuckistan and I didn’t pay close attention to the blog. So to the three people who tune in for Caturday, I’m sorry. There will be twice as much kitteh this Caturday!

    Green Eggs and Spam

    So, I usually get the regular run of the mill crap in my spam box. People leaving “Hey, I like this blog! Buy my shit!” type comments. Very uninteresting. But, in the 435 spam comments I’ve recieved in the past year, there have been a few that stand out – and they’ve been getting better lately! In the spirit of a lazy Monday, following a busy weekend (read: very little WoW time) I don’t have much to talk about, so I’ll do a lazy ass meta post.
    There seems to be a trend in “feel good comments.” I guess the spam filters are getting more and more clever, and being able to filter out web addresses put into the comment itself. So, the workaround is to put an innocuous comment and then have your name link back to somewhere that you’re selling things.

    Polite Computer Guys 1 and 2: “This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,
    A definite great read.. .. – Computer.Dood@computerstore.com” (I got this post twice, from two different user names. It was spam blocked the first time! Thanks for playing, though.)

    Polite Console Gamer Person: “Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!! – XBOXshitforsale@gmail.com” (Not a console gaming website, but good idea on the cross-niche marketing!)

    Polite Sales Lady: “Really nice posts. I will be checking back here regularly. – SalesLady@wikipedia.com” (Wikipedia???)

    greeneggs1

    Then there’s the more blatant sellers. Some of whom are not obviously native English speakers, lending inadvertant entertainment to my spam-checking activities.

    Buy My Book Lady: “OMG you are a great writer! You might want to check out my book. You can buy my autobiography on almost any website that sells books, just search for ISBN # ________ – BookLady@newblogwithoneadvertisingpost.com” (Congratz on using the search WordPress tags and finding “books” here. I did check out the ISBN. It’s really real book but I have *no* idea what it’s about, the author has left a crazy breathless runon comment on Amazon that does not in any way make me want to read her book. Sorry.)

    Game Hacker: “Best choice of the week about Crack, Vdts crack, Chem3d crack and War3tft_117a_english crack here http://crack.notakeylogger.iswear.comCrackerHackerNotAKeyLogger@honestly.com” (I was tempted to check this one out and see exactly what cracks were available, but I doubt it’s anything interesting. And I like my keys.)

    greeneggs2

    And where would a Warcraft blog be without the goldspammers? Ahhh, goldspammers. So much enterainment, so little time. (Bonus points for the broken english.)

    Gold Spammer: “used to be? hardcore in wow. but you guys actually farm them yourself? you should check out http://www.ohgodmykeys.comGoldKeySpamLogger@mwahaha.com” (You keep using that punctuation mark. I don’t think it means what you think it means.)

    I do honestly feel bad for these guys, because I know that they’re often regular people just trying to make money for their families. I know my job sucks sometimes, but at least I don’t have to spend all day searching for Warcraft related stuff and leaving my Goldspammer droppings everywhere. Which is why I don’t abuse in-game spammers. I just report them. (Also because they’re often automated – no point in abusing a bot.)

    The runner up for best spam comment ever is this one, from a foreign interest:

    LadyRussia: “Блог отличный. Вручить бы Вам награду за него или просто орден почета. =) – imanokov@CheapComputers.ru” (I plugged that into Babel Fish and got: “[Blog] is outstanding. To entrust to you reward for it or is simple the order of the honor.” Why, thanks! I’m still not going to buy your Eastern Bloc rip off computer equipment.)

    GreenEggs3

    But, the best spam I have ever gotten (to date) is this:
    Pr0nD00d: “Best choice of the month: Creampie, Clit creampie, Creampie mpg and Vagina creampie http://pr0n.popupsatwork.loseyourjob.com/” (I can’t wait to see my search terms now.)

    How did that guy even find this place??

    Talk to me about your spam comments – I’m a pretty small fish in a pretty big blogging fishbowl, other people must be getting much,much more interesting things than I am.

    Caturday October 3

    blanca

    This is the tiny little Blanca. She belongs to a good friend of ours, and we cat-sit her every now and then when he needs to go out of town. She’s a rescue cat (yay!) and was so tiny and skittish when she first arrived that it just broke my heart to think of her life before we met her. She didn’t wither those roses btw – I don’t think she’s Basement Cat.

    Friday I’m In Love

    royal_heart2So, way back in the days before there was any sort of video gaming allowed in my household, I had to turn to other forms of entertainment. (I say allowed because we didn’t have really any sort of disposable icome growing up and because the one time my mother broke down and rented an original NES machine for my brother and I it ended up in the sort of ‘console machine to the side of the head’ fight that all kids get into from time to time. Don’t ask.) Lacking both any sort of pixelated joy in the form of video games and the attention span for TV, I read a lot. Like, a lot. I read like other people breath. Books, magazine, cereal boxes, placemats – anything.

    I still love to read and I will still abandon WoW from time to time in favour of reading something really fabulous. Or reading my assigned book for the monthly book club meeting that I have with my mother and sisters. I’ll read just about anything, but what I have been reading lately is the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon.

    The books have had a bit of a sordid past. They’re not exactly easy to classify – and because the main character was a woman and there was quite a bit of sex in them, the first two got relegated to the “Romance” bin. Which, is not to say that it hurt the books, but it definately pushed them into a ‘niche’ market. You can only read paperback books with flaxen haired buxom women in ripped bodices, swooning in the arms of shirtless Fabio lookalikes on the cover in certain places – and still expect to be taken seriously.

    Which, in an odd aside, makes me think of the Harry Potter books (which I also like quite a bit). Diana Gabaldon’s books have been republished several times, and the newest print run of the books have a plain cover with a celtic knot on the front. Very discreet and adult looking. In much the same way, book publishers have capitalized on the deomgraphic-crossing popularity of the Harry Potter books and have printed them with more subtle covers so that adults won’t be embarassed to read children’s books on the train to work.

    But I digress (are you shocked?). The books are hard to describe, Diana Gabaldon, when asked what the Outlander series was about, said:

    “History, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honour, betrayal, vengance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul … you know, the usual stuff of literature.”

    -Look here

    Which is pretty much the most accurate description. She also says “Look, pick it up, open it anywhere and read three pages. If you can put it down again, I’ll pay you a dollar”, which I just love because it’s so absolutely true – it’s how I got hooked on them. She also said that she’s sold a lot of books that way – but not lost any money.

    I love them because they are epic in scale, far reaching in concept and deliver a taste of everything like a good variety show. They’re not just romance books or scifi novels – they’re amazing stories, told by a very, very talented author who deftly wields literary tools from every genre.

    It’s hard to give a synopsis that won’t make them sound really silly, because they are such a mishmash of styles (the author calls them ‘historical fiction’ which is about as accurate as any label will get, I suppose). What I can comment on is the talent of the author, both in crafting memorable, moving and elegant phrases (I used one in this post, because it’s the most spine-tingling, shiver-inducingly accurate description of All Hallow’s Eve ever penned), as well as presenting us with some of the most well rounded characters I have read in a long time. Each character speaks with their own voice, stays true to their character traits and changes and develops as the series progress. It sounds like such a simple thing to do, but it’s actually quite difficult (to judge from some of the tripe I’ve been forced to read through Book Club) for authors to manage. I’ve read some deliciously written books that have horrid, one-dimensional characters that never change, learn or grow, are used clumsily to make some point or other, or speak with the author’s voice and not their own.

    One thing I’ve noticed with Ms. Gabaldon’s writing over time is that she has refined her talent to the point where her writing style changes very subtly (and very appropriately) with the character she is writing about. Her own author’s voice, her word usage and sentance structure is tailored to suit the main character in whatever that particualr scene is. I have no idea if she’s doing it consciously, or if it’s an artifact of her being so in tune with her characters as whole and complete persons, but it’s fabulous and I love her for it.

    The most recent (8th!) book in the series was published last week (in the US and Canada.) I’ve just started it after re-reading the previous 7, and the author’s talents have never come across so clearly. I’m only a few chapters in and I’m already entranced, staying up far, far too late last night, trying to cram just a few more pages in. It’s a marvellous read, and I’m finding that I’m required to physically restrain myself to keep from gobbling the whole book down at once, rather than taking the time to savour it.

    The books (which are hefty, make no mistake. The hardcovers run about 3 inches thick!) have been described by Salon Magazine as, “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting Scrooge McDuck comic books.”

    To which I can only add: “and getting better with every installment.”

    I love Diana Gabaldon, I love her Outlander series, and all the rest of her books. You should check them out!

    A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Wine

    So, I like to drink quite a bit. I like to grab some friends and family and head down to my local and eat their delicious, delicious greasy food and drink beer and scotch until it comes out my ears. That is a fabulous time in my opinion. However, when we do such things, we usually take it in turn to decide who will be the responsible person for the evening – and it’s not so much fun when it’s me.

    It’s not that I miss drinking, it’s that I hate having to shepherd and corral and manage 17 people who behave for all the world like small children. It’s wearying. It has its moments – seeing someone miss their mouth entirely and splot their drink in the centre of their shirts is (usually) well worth the hassle of spending the night herding people who are working on a three minute, closed-loop memory. (Where am I? How did I get here? Whose pineapple is this?)

    The converse, however is pretty entertaining, too. Having one drunk person in a crowd of sober people can be quite a lot of fun. Well, for the sober people, I guess. I know that I sure enjoy teasing and laughing at (in a friendly way, of course) those people I know who are brave (or foolish) enough to come drunk to a sober gathering.

    After I logged off on Saturday night (and well into the wee hours of Sunday morning) a guildie of mine (one of our tanks – a drunk tank! punny!) came home from a birthday party absolutely shittered – and decided the best thing to do was to get onto vent. While I am so very grateful that he made the decision to display his drunk ass for our entertainment, I’m even more indebted to the kind and clever soul who decided to record the vent conversation.

    And post it on the forums.

    Mondays being what they are, I was surly and miserable when I finllally oozed into the office. After I did all my normal Monday start up things, I checked the guild forums and decided to download the file. It was 58 minutes of absolute bliss. I laughed loud enough that a few people poked their heads into my cubicle to see just what the heck was going on. I was tempted to link the recordings here, but I don’t know how entertaining they’d be to people who don’t know the guild or recognize the voices. You’ll just have to trust me that listening to an absolutely plastered man with the Bostonian accent howling “heroic throw, heroooooic throoooowwwww” like an abandonded wolf pup is pretty much the bestest thing evar. It was exactly what I needed first thing in the morning. It’s exactly what I need a lot of the time.

    I know this may make me sound like Nerdly McNerderson, Mayor For Life of Nerdtown, Nerdvania, but I was actually mopey when the recording was over. For a little while there, it was like being at home, online, (virtually) surrounded by my friends. A couple of times while I was listening, my fingers twitched a little, unconsciously typing /g in preparation to reply to something I heard. It wasn’t just that my guildies were having fun laughing at our very very drunk warrior tank (they made a drinking game out of his drunken ramblings. If he says “what planet am I on?” – everybody drinks! If he says “I’m soooo hammahhed” – everybody drinks!) but that they were together and having fun. I love that so, so much about my guild. I love the way that I feel like a part of a community – a family almost (OMG someone call the cliche police!)

    For all they drive me bugnutz insane sometimes, I really do love my guild. Actually, I think that’s why they have the power to make me so crazy – and to cut me so deeply. I care for them so much, and that means that I leave myself very vulnerable to being hurt by their indifference or their scorn.

    Drak, Sora, Undi, Chiclet, Jett, Ama, Thunder and everyone who was online – I enjoyed your company on Monday morning. Impossibilium – I quite honestly and truly love you guys.

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