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.