Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wii wish you a Merry Christmas!!

Here it is, Christmas Eve and I am home in California, far from the freezing ice in Boston. In all the years I've lived away from mom and dad, Christmas always meant a couple of days away from the hustle and bustle of my every day life and getting to recapture what it was like to be a kid. This year I decided to bring along my Wii to pass the time on Christmas Day waiting for my sister and nephew to get here.

When I set up the console last night, I plugged in Wii Play to teach my mom how to use the wiimotes. We had a great time playing the cow racing game, knocking down scarecrows and running into trees. Then I plugged in WiiSports when my dad came in for the night. We ended up bowling until midnight, which was a lot of fun. They both kicked my butt (beginner's luck!!) and we all had a lot of fun.

This is what the holidays are all about. Spending time with friends and family, playing games, having a good time, and making memories together. Like laughing about how you get nothing but splits no matter how you bowl. Or how impossible it is to get a strike even if you get it right into the pocket. >:-)

Wherever you are and whatever you are up to tonight, have a wonderful time and remember to tell the people you care about that you love them. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and lots of gaming goodness under your tree!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crafting weekend...

With two blizzards blowing through Boston this weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to focus on crafting with my many alts in EQ2. I buckled down and got a lot accomplished:

Yrkin completed his second crafting instance, this time outfitting the dwarves in Firemyst Gulley. He gained three more levels and is now a level 60 Carpenter.

Maellendy churned out potions and combat arts to gain four levels to become a 50 Alchemist. Now she can delve into the wonderful world of the crafting instance as well.

Trincket gained three levels, going from just barely into 43 to a 46 Jewelcrafter.

Xharel gained four levels going from midway through 43 to 47 in Woodworking.

In my next push I'll get the two of them up to instance level as well.

My other crafters - Texl, Tobiegh, Granyte and Exander didn't get any attention this weekend, but I may have time at the aiport tonight to play them a bit and get some crafting done. They are all still in high 20s to mid 30s, so they have a long way to go.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Potato Heads!!!

For Halloween this year I decided I wanted a Mr. Potato Head for my desk at work. Just something to have fun with and liven up my office. Then for Christmas I decided I needed more! They all came today and my absolute favorite is Opti-Mash Prime!

A little Googling later and I found all sorts of Potato Head sets I can pick up. And I remember from last year's visit to the NYC Disney Store that they have bins of Potato Head parts I can pick up. So I'll have to make a trip down to the city soon...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interesting Bits

Today I got to spend some quality time with my DS. It's very quiet around here right now, due to the craptastic economy and not much going on client wise. So I was able to sneak in a surprising amount of time with my favorite handheld.

I decided to tackle the last few puzzles I had to solve in Professor Layton and the Curious Village (Guitar Hero On Tour being a bit too rambunctions for stealth play in my cubicle).

I have been putting off these last few brain teasers since midsummer when I first picked up and immediately got hooked on the game. It has a great story, stunning graphics and some amazingly fun puzzles. There were a couple of mind benders I just couldn't figure out as well as a few Sliding Block puzzles (which I abhor) on my To Do list.

The best part of the game is the interesting story line that is interwoven with the many different types of puzzles. Add to this the unlockable bonus content and the 26 downloadable "weekly" puzzles and you've got more than 150 different puzzles to try your luck with. Most of the puzzles have a slight trick or different way of looking at that, once you discover it, makes them amazingly simple to solve. A few even have the "*smack your forehead* I can't believe it was that EASY!" solutions to them.

If you haven't picked up this little gem, and you enjoy fiddling with puzzles, you should go get it. Right now! The game is an excellent fit for the DS, as you can use the stylus to help figure out the solutions to the mind benders. I for one am eagerly awaiting a port of the sequel (which has been out in Japan since last year) and hope that Nintendo gets it here in time for my birthday next year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Shadow Odyssey Introduction

Read through the story below for a nice little in game accounting of what I've been up to since TSO shipped. Rather than deal with the lag of a hundred bajillion adventurers fighting over mobs and resources in the Moors, I decided to jump right into the crafting aspects of the expansion. Other than Malfi as an 80 sage, Yrkin was my next highest crafter at 50. Since that is just the right level to participate, I took him to the Moors and found the Ship Out! quest line to get the necessary faction for the Supply Division. Since then he has done the Clockwork instance once, solo, getting him to level 55 and also earned two more levels doing first time combines of the essential recipes in the 50 - 55 Carpenter books. That puts him at 57 right now with a slowly replenishing vitality. He's also done two weekly quests and is eyeballing some writs for faction as well.

Trincket and Maellendy are my next two highest crafters, and I've been working on them in the traditional way. Since they are both scholars, they can level just off pristine combines without too much reliance on writs. Both gained three levels - Maellendy 43 to 46 and Trincket 40 to 43. My Woodworker, Xharel, is also in his 40s, but I was getting bored with crafting by this point. As Stargrace says, after doing the tradeskill instances, crafting the old way is just not as much fun!

So I took a break from the crafting table and took Yrkin out for some adventuring in Antonica. He had earned a couple of levels in Mara running the introduction to the village quests, which dinged him up to 20 or so. I wanted to get him his Shin charm, but for that he needs harvesting of 240. Most of his skills were in the 30s, except trapping which was NINE! Oye! So back to Oakmyst and The Caves to get that up to the minimum for Antonica, then out for harvesting. I forgot how much fun I have in Antonica, and I started running quest lines as I was seeking out harvestable bits all over the place. This of course lead to more levels which got me to looking at my gear... Ugly. So...

I decided to get him geared up with full Steel armor (Granyte) and weapons (Exander), bow and arrows (Xharel) hex dolls (Texl), food/drink (Tobiegh), and jewelry (Trincket) as well as App IV abilities (Maellendy). Yes, I have every crafting class available to me, and I LOVE to gear my alts up with all crafted stuff. It's a great way to play the game in my opinion as it really feels like you are taking a character from nothing and working your way up through the ranks! I used steel for the armor and main weapons, fir buckler and bow, and non-rare materials for the rest of it. I really like the smart loot options they put in place in Antonica. 99% of the time a Treasured chest gives him a new Adept I which is a GREAT way to adventure. Always something useful!

That's what has been keeping me busy in game! What was supposed to be 20 minutes or so crafting up his skills the other night turned into a three our, alt hopping, craft-a-palooza! But my hoppy little Paladin looks pretty good in all his gear now!

I also bid farewell to the Renegades with Malfi, moving him over to my crafting guild. Since the TSO Signature series of quests grants Status at most of the steps, and there are five (or so) new Heritage quests out there, AND Renegades are already a level 80 guild, I decided to swap him over to take advantage of the status he is going to be earning. Autumnmist Enterprises is the name of my little alt guild and currently we are level 12. Every bit of status, at this point, helps a lot so I wanted to see that status put to good use.

Outside of adventuring and crafting I've been decorating a bit, and put together what I think is a great little apartment for Maellendy in Baubblshire. If you get a chance, stop by and check it out. I have it all decorated for Frostfell right now, and will probably take some pictures of it to post here and/or in the Norrathian Homeshow thread on the official forums this weekend.

Finally, I'm going to be working on my Fury (Autumnmyst) who is currently 42. I want to get him up to 50 so he and Malfi can duo some of the instances. I've heard about the lootable furniture in the instances and want to get myself some of that, as well as the Void Shards that are available.

So much to do and so little time!

Oh! And for those keeping track... I haven't touched any information about TSO yet, outside of great blog posts by Star and Tipa. Everything I've done in TSO so far has been by my own blood, sweat and tears. And I LOVE it!

Autumnmist Enterprises Quarterly Report

Report on the activities of Autumnmist Enterprises
As delivered by Xharel Notedancer
Chief Correspondent of Autumnmist Enterprises
At the quarterly Ironforge Exchange shareholder meeting
Steelday, the second of Firstchill

My dear sirs,

It should come as no surprise to any of you that Lord Malfi Autumnmist has a most excellent relationship with the Far Seas Trading Company. This conjuror extrordinaire has worked with the trading company since the moment he was discovered by their Captain Varlos adrift in the high sees surrounding the Shattered Lands. Long ago he became so popular with the Company they stopped offering him any incentive to continue such menial tasks as they offer to the common adventurer and now only call upon him when they are in need of his superior skills. This makes the advent of the new Supply Division of the company quite vexing to him.

Many of you know my lord well, but allow me a moment to introduce him to those among us who have not had the pleasure of making his aquaintance. Lord Autumnmist is a world renowned Sage. He has gained the trust of the residents of the Village of Shin, creating the Legendary Paper for the Augren family and earning their Auspicious Inkwell. He's proven his Master Sage abilities to the residents of Teren's Grasp in the perilous lands of Kunark, earning from them the Fabled Earring of the Solstice, thought to be lost in ages past. He has spent months harvesting resources all across the globe to show, again to the villagers of Shin, his mastery of harvesting and earning the coveted multi-colored cloak they honor in recognition of such abilities. And of course he has spent countless hours harvesting resources and crafting spells for you, the good people of the Iron Forge Exchange, as part of your certification programs. These hours were well spent hunched over the Engraved Desk workstations in the Willow Wood learning new techniques for crafting more and more powerful spells of mystic and divine force, as well as supplying the spells needed for his army of minio- err employees.

To be honest, though, this man is no saint of the crafting arts. He has been lacking in his pursuit of secondary trade skill knowledge. Months of pursuit of treasured bits in order to garner a basic understanding of Transmuting came to naught when the ultimate analysis found the cost to benefit ratio on this skill set were far below the minimums required by the Enterprise. As such, he returned to the lands of Faydwer and humbly requested the gnomish crafting guilds share with him the secrets of the ancient art of Tinkering. As it turns out, this skill has a much lower ratio of cost to benefit than Transmuting and after many hours of determiend study, my lord has just barely mastered making Gnomish Cross Trainers reliably. For now, the pursuit of this secondary skill has been set aside for a future rainy day. A rainy day far, far in the future.

But given all of his accomplishments, you can imagine that the prospects of proving himself, once again, to this all new trading group in order to earn the rights of access to the special books and bits and bobs they've discovered in the Moors of Ykesha is, well... That it is disappointing to say the very least. Especially considering the missed opportunity to garner the enormous amounts of favor they were granting in the heady early days of discovery due to his commitments here at the Exchange. It may be that in the future he will focus on building a personal relationship with this group, perhaps when he has the time to advance his skills in spellcrafting again. For now, however, he is content to explore the Moors, helping to tame the new lands and continue on in his adminstrative role with Autumnmist Enterprises.

In his stead he has appointed a number of talented staff members to the task of building a relationship between our firm and the new division the Far Seas Trading Company. Allow me to introduce to you Maellendy Briarthorn, Trincket Gnimbledigits and Yrkin B'Gurggle.

Maellendy Briarthorn is a rambunctious young halfling ranger who, at an early age and much to the dismay of her parents, took a strong interest in chemistry. The family farm still bears the tell-tale signs of many of her early experiments. Who knew that one shouldn't mix sulphur with an open flame in a barn full of dry hay and milk cows? Over the years she has turned her talent for explosiveness into a lucrative career as an Alchemist and is currently working through her Advanced Tradesman certification with your most esteemed organization. Recently she taken great strides forward in her abilities and is hoping to journey to the Village of Shin in the near future in order to be introduced to Supply Division representatives.

Lord Autumnmist discovered Trincket Gnimbledigits while adventuring among the ruins of Ak'Anon, now called Klak'Anon by many, when she was very young. The distraught gnomish lass was nearly comatose, in a state of emotional shock and clinging to a bag of intricate carving tools. She muttered to herself constantly and exhibited an unnatural, for a gnome, fear of anything clockwork. Lord Autumnmist coaxed her out of her hiding place and brought her back to Qeynos where, after a good cleaning, a hearty meal and many years of intensive therapy, it was discovered she had a knack for working with gems and soft metals. She quickly rose in the ranks and became one of the leading Jewelcrafters of the guild, now entering your Advanced Tradesman certification training program and eagerly looking forward to traveling to the Village of Shin with Ms. Briarthorn. She does, however, still have some issues regarding her early confinement in Klak'Anon and approaches clocks and other ticking objects with extreme caution and much reluctance.

Yrkin B'Gurggle is a talented young Froglock Paladin from the idyllic Castleview Hamlet. Raised in a family of devout Marr followers, even when it seemed the gods had left us, Yrkin firmly believes that helping others is the highest calling one can achieve. To this end he has long cultivated his natural abilities with wood and metal to help shelter and furnish the homes of the steady influx of refugees joining us in Qeynos. With the recent discovery of the Moors of Ykesha, he is eager to return to his people's ancestral homelands and strives to forward his knowledge as a paladin, righting wrongs in the lands surrounding Qeynos. However, he understands that his considerable talents as a Carpenter will allow him to have an impact in the Moors much sooner than his ability to swing a sword. Recently graduated from your prestigious Advanced Tradesman course, he immediately took an internship with the Supply Division. His talents have grown expansively under their tutelage and he is rapidly becoming one of their favored Carpenters.

As you can see, gentlemen, Autumnmist Enterprises is committed to forwarding our relationship with the Far Seas Trading Company, further cementing the excellent ties between this expansive corporation and the great city of Qeynos. If any of you should have specific questions regarding our current goals, or wish to personally interview any of our staff members, I will be more than pleased to arrange a private meeting at the Lion's Mane Tavern in the South of Qeynos.

Until next we meet, I bid you farewell and much good fortune.

{Recorded by Ebnezer Quillmender, scribe to the Ironforge Exchange}

Look for more stories in the future as we track the adventures of these three up and coming artisans!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Interesting Bits

Wednesdays are going to be Interesting Bits days! These will be little things I've been toying with this week, and want to throw up a quick post on. Yes, yet another attempt to give some structure to my blogging.

Everyone else in the blogosphere has already posted about it, so I'm going to also! Auditorium. Click on it. Play it. Experience it. Even if you aren't a gamer. This thing is AMAZING! Simple to navigate and learn how to play, but very complex in figuring out the interactions of the light/sound stream.

Playing around with it a bit this morning, I was reminded of two of my favorite PS3 downloads. PixelJunk Eden and Linger in Shadows are two... experiences I really enjoy.

PixelJunk Eden is an amazing little game where you jump and swing your way around a neon garden environment, collecting bits of fluff. The goal - grow more plants in the environment in an effort to collect all the large seeds scattered around the garden. The more seeds you get the more environments you open up. It is an amazing little program that packs a lot of diversity into a simple (in appearance) design. A platformer with a twist, everything is done via threads you swing on from plant to plant.

Linger in Shadows isn't a game, but a demoscene project published by Plastic out of Poland. I downloaded it from the Playstation Store the other night, and was immediately hooked. Basically, it is a graphical/technical demo that has a bit of interactivity attached to it. By fooling around with your SixAxis or DualShock 3 controller you can unlock interesting things in the demo to earn trophies for your collection.

I really like all three of these games as they explore gaming beyond the "traditional" aspects of bash/quest/save the princess. Go back up there and click on the Auditorium link. And, if you have a PS3 I definitely recommend giving the other two a chance. You will be extremely happy you did!

On a slightly different front, I've been very good at keeping my ShutterCal updated. I've only missed one day so far! I'm finding the project to be a lot of fun, looking for different pictures to take and getting them posted up. ShutterCal has a friendly community, full of talented people taking pictures all over the world. If you have any interest in photography, or even if you just have a camera, you should go check it out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Tipa at West Karana recently posted about ShutterCal, a website where you can post a picture a day, in a calendar type format. It also will send you reminders to get something posted when you might forget. As I mentioned in a prior post, I've been looking for something to get my creative juices flowing again, and I think this would be a lot of fun! I've always got my digital camera in my bag, and now that I have an IPhone on my hip, taking pictures is super easy.

This is similar to a project that Stargrace recently participated in, NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. While I don't have the gumption to participate in something on that scale, I think focusing on this blog and trying to keep ShutterCal up to date can help provide some structure to my need for a creative outlet. I've been feeling stifled lately, and simple things like this that will help me channel my creative energy should be just the ticket.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lego Trains in New England

On Saturday morning I dragged Jason up to Wilmington, Mass, to check out a Greenberg Train and Toy show. The reason I wanted to go was because NELUG, the New England Lego Users Group, was putting on a display at the show. Their display was HUGE! 6 ft. x 35 ft., with tons of trains, buildings, and a fully functioning carnival all included. It was pretty cool to see so much Lego in one place outside of a Legoland park.

My pictures aren't the greatest, but they give you an idea of the layout. My favorite part was absolutely the carnival. I've toyed with the idea of putting together a Lego carnival for years, and seeing one executed so well was inspiring. I took lots of close up pictures of ideas I want to stea- err incorporate into my own projects.

The NELUG members running the display were very friendly and I'm seriously considering joining up. I was a member of BAYLug (Bay Area Lego Users Group) back in California, and attended a few of their events. It is always a lot of fun to get together with other AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) and see the amazing things they put together in their spare time.

I've been a long time Lego collector, almost 22 years now, but have been going through a bit of a dark age for the past five or so years. Prior to my most recent move, any time I wanted to get my Lego out to do some building it meant taking over 3/4s of my house. Now that I have the whole basement of the condo to myself I can pull out my Lego to work on projects and not have to worry about putting everything away when I want to take a break.

A project I would like to take on, and have been planning out in my mind since this summer when Jason and I visited Provincetown, is to build the Pilgrim Monument. I think it would be a fun project, and something that would really get me back into the swing of Lego design. Lego Castle has always been my first love, and the Monument has an excellent Gothic architecture that falls right into the building style I like the most.

My hope is to build it as "realistically" as possible - meaning I want it to be to minifig scale. The typical Lego Minifigure should be able to make their way up to the top of the model and look around, just like we can in real life. It should have some unique building challenges, as I would also like to incorporate the many different engraved stones that pepper the inside of the tower showing the years the various towns in Massachussets donated to the building process. I'll keep you posted as I begin work on the project!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Video Games Live!

Friday night I went to Video Games Live! here in Boston with Jason and our friend Sarah. What an AMAZING concert. I only took the one picture (above) with my IPhone, but the evening was definitely one to remember.

The event is comprised of live orchestral and choral renditions of popular video game music spanning the last twenty years. Everything was represented - Mario, Zelda, Tetris, God of War, Gears of War, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, MegaMan, Metroid, you name it. There was a piece for every gamer. Designed by Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, the music of the games was augmented by light shows, video clips, on stage shenanigans, and the catcalls and shouts of the audience members. Every section of the show had its avid supporters, and nobody hesitated in making it known. This was strongly encouraged by Tommy who took every chance to rev up the crowd.

My absolute favorite part of the show was when they introduced Ralph Baer and Bill Harrison, the originators of the video game. These two designed and built the very first system back in 1969, when televisions were black and white and had 13 channels. Mr. Baer, now 86, has a website chronicling the history of the development process. It was phenomenol seeing these two founders of what has become, in 40 short years, the multi-billion dollar gaming industry. I think they got no less than three standing ovations during their time on stage. Mr. Baer and a child from the audience also went a few rounds on one of the original "Brown Box" devices that held a functioning version of the very first video game. It was a tennis type game (ala Pong) with controls for moving your "player" up and down, left and right, and also to put some english on the ball and make it curve. The little boy who got to play ultimately won, to the cheers of the audience members.

Another great bit in the show was the Guitar Hero competition. Before the show everyone got a chance to play Guitar Hero in the lobby, with the winner getting to play Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion on the Hard level during the concert. If they scored more than 200,000 points they got to go home with a prize pack. I forget the name of the guy who won, but he was amazing. He didn't play on Hard, he played on the Expert level, and ended up scoring over 300,000 points - a 90% success rating on notes hit. For someone who (still) struggles on some of the EASY stuff, I was very impressed.

My favorite piece of the musical selections was absoutely God of War. As much as I love Mario and Zelda, the scope of God of War's music is perfect for the concert venue. The music washing over me made me want to run right home and jump into Kratos' world to tear up some gorgons and ogres. The choral effect was amazing, and the soloist who sang had a wonderful voice.

All in all it was a great concert experience and I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes video games of any stripe, music afficionados, and just about anyone who enjoys a good time. Jump onto the Video Games Live! website and see when they are coming to a concert hall near you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Way I Play

I've been reading through Stargrace's posts regarding the new EQ2 expansion and the Ancient Gaming Noob's recent reminisces of his MUD days, and they got me to thinking about how I play games.

Back when I was a kid my parents had a very strict policy when it came to computer games - no new ones until I finished the ones I already had. This lead me to long hours playing games to the hilt, exploring every inch of the universe until I solved the final puzzle and reached the elusive end game "movie" that was the reward for the graphical adventure games I favored.

The HOURS I spent on the little hoverbike in Space Quest 1, trying to get from the crash site of my escape pod to Ulence Flats, crashing into rocks and ending up buried head first in the sand. The days it took me to sort through the spells in King's Quest III so I could knock off the evil wizard and escape back to my homeland. Let's not even get into the weeks of my life absorbed in Super Mario Brothers 3 at my best friend's house, memorizing patterns of marauding turtles and mushroom people.

All of this playing had me writing copious notes in order to remember where everything was. You never knew when that blue rock that could be moved was going to be an integral part to a puzzle. One game in particular, Starflight and its sequel Starflight 2, had me creating pages and pages of notes - habitable planets, lucrative trade routes, worm hole coordinates - I kept everything in a log. I was so obsessive about it, I even wrote letters to Electronic Arts (the publisher) checking to make sure I had found EVERYTHING!

Fastforward to today, and my gaming habits are a very different picture. From my computer desk I can see rows and rows of PS2 and Nintendo Gamecube games I've never even put into the console, let alone played through completion. They're right above the DS games and below the (rapidly growning) PS3 library which is following a similar path. I just FINALLY put Lego:Batman into my console this past week, and I've had that for at least a month or so already!

Beyond the vast library of games is the way I play games now. I'm the first to run crying to EQ2I when the immediate answer to a Norrathian quest isn't right in front of my nose. I've got a stack of console game walk throughs and cheat guides holding down one end of my entertainment center. And for anything that I don't have a printed version for, there are at least a thousand on-line walk throughs or hint sites I can run to for help.

Somewhere along the way I lost that drive to find everything on my own, at the same time gaining a disposable income that threw the "rules" of game buying out the window. How did this happen?

As I've thought about it, I can't decide if it is because I have become a lazy gamer, or that I just don't have the time to commit to marathon gaming sessions anymore. Have I become a too busy adult, who would rather let somebody else do all the playing while I receive the payoff for their effort? "Where's the fun in that?" I ask myself. That isn't how I want to enjoy my hobby.

So, I have resolved that for the latest EQ2 expansion - The Shadow Oddyssey - I'm not going to use any spoilers or write ups as I adventure. I'm going to do it on my own, exploring and discovering all the great content the developers have put together. I want to figure things out, and work through the quest lines, and enjoy the stories of Norrath at my own pace, not plow through them as quickly as I can.

And if I do come across something that I can't quite figure out on my own, well, it IS a MASSIVELY MULTIUSER online game. I can always fall back on one of my friends for hints and tips, rather than a canned write-up from somebody I don't even know!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blog Name Change

Hey all!

I updated the title of my blog. Malfi is a character name I've used in on-line worlds for a while now. My first character in Everquest was a half elf rogue I named Malfizorous. Very quickly I was nicknamed "Malfi" by my guild mates, and I adopted that as I moved on to different games and posting forums.

Also, an apology for the fuzziness of the pictres. I still haven't gotten my home computer system up and running yet after the move. The profile pic and the one posted below were both taken with my IPhone while out at Bodega Bay on an overcast day. Not the greatest quality!

Family Time!

Since everyone else has posted entries about family, I figured it was my turn now. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I am a California native from what I used to consider the "little" town of Petaluma - about 45 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, along the 101, in Sonoma County. Since moving to Massachusetts, I've discovered what a little town truly is, and in comparison Petaluma is a booming Metropolis.

I was raised on a 40 acre ranch on the outskirts of town, and grew up with all that "farm living" brings a person. I was in 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) and raised a herd of Guernsey dairy cows that I showed at local fairs and expositions. We always had a number of other animals around, including sheep, pigs, three horses for a few years, typically five or so dogs and (at one time) about 35 cats of various ages and varieties. Most of these cats were from a single, over productive "Mama Cat" who always eluded my father's efforts at capture for spaying. Eventually we shipped the entire cat herd to a friend's dairy where they were having a rat problem.

My older sister and I were lucky while growing up in that our parents never split up (coming up on their 35th wedding anniversary in 2009) and our grandparents (on my mom's side) lived just a stones throw away on the ranch. We always had a strong family connection and learned the valuable lessons of loyalty and respect for others early on. When I was 20 years old, and making my own way in the world, my parents sold the ranch and moved to four acres a few miles down the road. Having all that property was great, but also a burden to maintain. Four acres is just right to let the four dogs run around and grow some olive trees.

While I have headed out into the world, my sister remained in our hometown close to mom and dad. She now has an amazing son, Lucas, who just turned seven years old. Above is a (somewhat fuzzy) picture of he and I with my mom on a recent whale watching expedition to Bodega Bay. We didn't see any whales, but the hot dogs and ice cream were great!

I don't have any children, other than my 17 year old cat Tobie. He's a tuxedo, and he's been with me since I was 13 years old. He's lived in all the places I have - Petaluma, Santa Rosa, West Hollywood, San Francisco (two different apartments), Fremont, and now in both Quincy and Rockland in the Boston area. I did a tally and both he and I have moved over 12 times in his lifetime. I'm sure we have a few more moves ahead of us.

We just completed our most recent move, from Quincy to Rockland, where we live with my partner Jason in a brand new condo. Building a life together is interesting, and challenging, and fun all at the same time. Deciding what goes where, who is responsible for what, and balancing personal time with "us" time is turning out to be an adventurous voyage in its own right!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MMORPG? How do you even say that?

In my initial post I mentioned that I play two on-line games called EverQuest II and World of Warcraft. For those of you who don't know what these entertainment behemoths are, let me explain a bit.

Way back in the beginning, before there were computers, nerds and geeks would get together to play a little tabletop game called Dungeons & Dragons. Pencils, paper, character sheets, dice, Cheetos and Mountain Dew made for long nights of battling dragons and clearing out dungeons.

When computers came on the scene, these avid roleplayers made the leap to the electronic age and began transferring their adventures into computer programs. Now instead of the manual labor of recording hit points (life totals) and character levels on paper, a computer took care of all the math for them. These initial programs were known as "MUDs - Multi-User Dungeons," where individuals could connect using dial up modems and bulletin boards to facilitate their adventures. October 20th (just last week) was the 30th anniversary of the very first MUD. These MUDs were text based, meaning there were no pictures. Everything depended on the imaginations of the participants to create the scene.

The next evolution then, was to take these on-line adventures graphical. Now known as "MMORPGs - Massively Multi-user Online Role Playing Games" (pronounced as each of the individual letters, not "MORE PIGS") the best known, EverQuest (EQ) was first published by Sony Online Entertainment in 1999. In the nearly 10 years since EQ came on the scene MMORPGs have expanded into a multi-billion dollar industry. World of Warcraft alone boasts over a million current subscribers, with the industry overall garnering more than a half billion dollars in revenue in 2006.

EverQuest II and World of Warcraft are two of the most prominent games in the current generation of MMORPGs. In essence, they are the same as the Dungeons & Dragons games of the 70s, but now instead of playing with your three neighborhood friends, you are playing with thousands of people from all over the world. The game software acts as the Dungeon Master, sending you on quests and epic adventures, and the experience is augmented by amazing graphics, full orchestral soundtracks, stunning sound effects and voice chat with your fellow players.

In one recent session I grouped with six other people, including individuals from the Netherlands, Michigan, Australia, stationed in Iraq, and just down the street from my home in Rockland, MA. All from the comfort of my home computer system. In the eight years I've been playing on-line games (I started in the original EverQuest in 2000) I've met people who have become true friends and that I still regulary keep in touch with.

So that is a little bit about what EQ2 and WoW are. If you click on the links above, your browser will take you to the Wikipedia entries where you can get some more detail on the genre. If you are interested in hearing more, just let me know! I'm always happy to show these fascinating worlds to new people!

Monday, October 27, 2008

But... What do you do?

While I would love to say I spend all my time in fantasy worlds, slaying dragons and righting wrongs, in truth my reality is a little less excting. I work as a corporate trainer for a large, Boston based financial firm. My firm is the second largest clearing firm in the US, and my clients are broker dealers all over the place. This means I get to spend a lot of time away from Boston, training clients new to our platform. When they join us they need to be taught how to open accounts, initiate and monitor trading activity, move money into and out of accounts, and just about anything else you can think of related to the transacting business in the stock market using our systems.

I am a fully licensed broker, holding Series 7, 24, 27, 55 and 63 designations with FINRA, formerly known as the NASD (National Association of Securties Dealers). These licenses allow me to conduct trading activity, open my own broker dealer, act as a market maker, file Focus Reports with FINRA, and be licensed to conduct business in the 50 US states. I've been in the industry for twelve years now, starting as a sales assistant and also acting as firm principal, trading desk manager, and various and sundry other positions prior to joining my current firm. Here I've been a Client Service Manager (serving 20+ clients at a time) and now a trainer.

Now is a truly exciting time to be part of this industry, provided you enjoy rollercoasters. Luckily I do! Even more lucky for me, I work for a very stable company and have little to fear from the current economic crisis other than a rapidly dwindling 401K plan.

Links Galore!!

I added a Blog Roll and a link list of a couple of the webcomics I read on a regular basis. These are some of my favorites, and maybe you'll find something you like too!

A word of caution, all of these links are pretty heavily invested in gamer/geek culture and humor, so click at your own peril. They should all be safe for work.

Hello! Hello!

Matt here. I've made forays into the world of blogging in the past, but it never stuck with me - the first post on most of them read something like this first sentence actually. I read a number of blogs on a daily basis, mostly having to do with the on-line role playing industry and games such as Everquest II and World of Warcraft. I also keep current on a number of webcomics, update Facebook regularly, and in general find the Internet a very comfortable place to be.

I'm a California native who, almost two years ago now, made the switch to the East Coast. After spending nearly 28 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, the adjustment to living in Boston has been a long one. But I'm getting there, and enjoying everything New England has to offer.