Links & Accomplishments, 10/8/2017 to 10/14/2017

Links

One of my Indian coworkers taught me about Karwa Chaut, a holiday celebrated largely in northwestern India by married women, which took place ~ a week ago now. I find the interplay of secular regional customs and religion interesting in most holiday celebrations, and in this example even moreso.

Brief Update

Things are… okay. My cat Brianna is doing better — all her tests for the Really Bad Stuff came back negative. Asthma seems likely. At this point she’s on steroids, and will be for at least three weeks. Antibiotics, too, in case it’s some sort of bacterial infection/pneumonia. It’s kind of “wait and see” now, since we don’t really know what might have triggered her.

Oh, and we have a working septic system again. When Roto Rooter came out with the camera, they fished out a giant root ball that the cleaning had dislodged, and noted a lot of “ground mammal” activity around where the pipe from the house met the mainline. Manfully, Matt did not ask if we should call in Bill Murray to help.

On the ulnar neuropathy front, I saw the orthopedist this morning and I’m going to need to have ulnar release, an outpatient surgery. No schedule for that yet, and it’s not certain it will even help, because nerves are finicky, and the ulnar nerve moreso. But my hand has already been numb for over a month; I don’t have a lot to lose.

The final Fifth Gate Silverfire game was this past weekend. (The final combined event is still to come, in December). I had a really hard time getting into it, due to all the real life stuff going on. By the time I did, the game was over! But I have to say, the big field fight on Saturday night, right after dinner, was pretty epic. It had BALLISTA and DOGS and also now we get to call Friedrich (Stephen G’s character) “Your Grace”, whether he likes it or not 🙂

In WoW, I have been leveling a druid (a male worgen named Wodehouse. This name entertains me, if no one else). He’s 66 as of this writing. So far druidry is one part “I can loot stuff from travel form without shifting? HAX REPORTED” to one part “WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL THESE BUTTONS?”

I’m leveling as Guardian, because I want to learn how to tank on the most ridiculously overpowered tank in the game, and because it’s easy to get groups this way. I haven’t been exclusively doing dungeons to level — because I hate PUGs almost as much as I hate Outland questing — but enough to learn my way around and get some dungeon quest XP.

I think quest mobs must be very confused when a raven drops out the sky, turns into a bear, and kills them.

Oh, and my social media hiatus ends today! So I can actually check your responses to this post on FB or whatnot. I’m still figuring out how I want to fit social media healthily into my life. It’s clear to me that I do better, mentally, when I don’t have a million voices shouting at me at the touch of a button. It helps me to focus on my friends, my projects, and what’s really important. But… I also really miss the interaction that happens with other larpers on FB, especially post-events.

Accomplishments

Writing
– Did 30m of editing on Lioness
– Wrote 3500 words on the Story That Should Not Be, a.k.a. the story in the world of Lioness. I have come up with at least three titles, all of which sound like formula romances.
– Wrote blog post “Almost Glorious: Notes on a Nearly-Irrelevant Legion Raid Achievement”

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “Silicon Valley Sexism”, part 1 and 2
– Listened to Writing Excuses 12.37 and 12.38
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “Problematic Faves: Judge Judy”
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “Pregnant in Prison”
– Got the Glory of the Legion Raider achievement in WoW

Health
– Did Zombies Run! Season 2 Episode 1 (2.65mi in 43:42)
– Did ZR S2E1 (2.40mi in 37:25)

Picture of the Week


Burnbright and Brianna are Friends. For now, at least.

Almost Glorious: Notes on a Nearly-Irrelevant Legion Raid Achievement

This post was penned over the course of the last few months. Most of these achievements were done before the Tomb of Sargeras raid came out, which trivialized a lot of these. But we just completed the Krosus and Gul’dan ones this week, so I decided to finish this post, in case there’s anyone out there who still hasn’t done it.

While we were waiting for Tomb to come out, my WoW guild (Knights of the Night, US Duskwood/Bloodhoof – Alliance), began trying for the Glory of the Legion Raider achievement, which involves doing several finicky things during various boss fights in the Emerald Nightmare and Nighthold raids.

For some background, this was largely done by KoTN’s heroic raiding group, which raids Mon/Tues and usually fields 10-15 raiders. We’re not terrible at this (there’s a guild name, right there), but we’re also not hardcore progression, either — we only just downed heroic Kil’jaeden last week, and we spend more time making terrible puns than we do reading strategy guides. We did this over several sessions, with a varying group each time; speaking for myself, most achievements were done pre-Tomb, and the final two (Krosus and Gul’dan in NH) were done post-Tomb.

Emerald Nightmare

Most of these were done over the course of one Monday raid night. We skipped some parts because we already had them; i.e. everyone had the Ursoc achievement, and a lot of people had the Cenarius one or most of it.

Nythendra, “Buggy Fight.” Here you have squish fifteen of these glowing gold bugs that pop up only during the Heart of the Swarm phase (where she sucks up all the poison she’s thrown down). There are only four bugs per phase, which means you need there to be four Heart of the Swarmp phases — possibly five, if you happen to miss one of the bugs. (Which we did).

The hardest part, for a heroic NH-geared guild, was keeping her alive long enough to get five phases, without hitting her enrage timer. We literally had twenty seconds after the fifth Heart of the Swarm to kill her before she enraged. Fun!

Ironically, the other afflic lock and I were like, “Wait, we need to do less damage? Okay, I’m switching to destro for this fight.” I dunno about my pal Malefic, but I haven’t been Destro since just after 7.1.5, and at that point I hadn’t even upgraded my Destro artifact for 7.2, so it was… entertaining.

Ursoc, “Scare Bear.” We’d all done the achievement before, so we skipped it this time. It involves rescuing an NPC and keeping him alive for the whole Ursoc fight.

Dragons of Nightmare, “Imagined Dragons World Tour.” This one is kind of fussy, but in a fun way. Every member of your raid needs to go through EVERY one of the four portals to different parts of the world and pick up a buff from glowing green wisps. You then have to kill the dragons while everyone has all four buffs.

It really helps to have three tanks here — two do the normal tank-swap mechanic, and one to run through the portals with everyone else. The runner then swaps in as the first two tanks need to pick up the buff. Unfortunately, one of our usual tanks was away for this, so we had one main tank (my husband Matt’s pally, Marrais), a druid who usually heals but at least had her Guardian artifact (Bree), and a frost DK with a taunt (Anieros). It was super messy. Mar ended up asleep due to the stacking debuffs. But we overgear it enough it didn’t matter, and we got the achiev.

Next up, everyone’s favorite spiderbird, Elerethe Renferal, with “Webbing Crashers.” This one was a PAIN in the ASS — but at least a pain in the ass that we resolved in two tries. Basically you need to break seven “pulsating egg sacs” during the fight.

Easy enough, right? Except most of the eggs are in hard to get to places; at least two are on platforms you can only get to with the feathers Spiderbird drops in her bird form — and that there’s no safe return from.

Oh, and if you accidentally break an egg before the fight? You have to pull, wipe, and reset.

We would have loved a demon hunter here, for Glide; instead we had feathers, failed Demonic Circles, and suicidal DKs who saved the day. (How thematically appropriate).

At the end, only two people were up — Matt, and the other afflic lock. “Don’t worry,” someone pointed out. “Malefic does more dps alone than we did when we first took down this boss.”

And indeed, we managed.

Il’gynoth, aka spooky tentacle tree, was up next, with “Took the Red Eye Down.” You have to kill twenty slimes within a small period of time on top of the eye. I was concerned about afflic lock cleave from Soulflame killing the slimes before we’d gathered twenty, but it didn’t turn out to be much of a problem. The hardest part was counting them!

Cenarius, “Use the Force(s).” The achievement can’t be done in one go; you have to NOT cleanse each potential group of adds. We all looked at our achievement progress and it seemed like the only group we hadn’t gotten already was the wisps. (Because fuck those Twisted Sisters).

So we pulled Cenarius to the back of the room, where there was NO CHANCE of anyone accidentally voting to cleanse the wisps, and then fought whatever else came out. (I think we got cleansed dragons). It went super fast. There wasn’t even time for a tank swap in the second phase.

Xavius, “I Attack the Darkness.” Ahahahaha. This achievement. It was a mess. Remember how I said we didn’t have any DHs in the group? Yeah. That was relevant.

So what you basically have to do is: in every one of Xavius’ three phases, someone has to wander off into the darkness, find an invisible add, pull it back to the group, and kill it. The video we watched ahead of time joked that the way you do this achievement is, you start on your main, wander around in the darkness finding nothing, then give up. Then you pop on your demon hunter, use Spectral Sight to find it, attack it with Throw Glaive, and pull it back to the group.

Literally. You need a demon hunter for this. A hunter’s Flare doesn’t work, or any of the other abilities you think might. As our druid healer Tyrwll (my pal Mel) said, “Well… I guess this is the demon hunter expansion.”

Luckily Matt has a demon hunter tank, too — though massively undergeared, never having seen the inside of a raid or M+ dungeon. So he logged on Syladia, his DH.

First problem. Throw Glaive no longer works to grab the add. You have to use your taunt. Which is on a cooldown. It took us a good long time to figure that out, all the while our other tank going insane.

That got us through the first two phases. Then… the third phase. It should work the same, but see, phase three is when those Nightmare Tentacles come out, spewing poison throughout the room. The DoT kept breaking him out of Spectral Sight.

Yeah, we wiped a lot there, because it was basically impossible for him to grab the add, and everyone else was going insane…

So then we decided that if one demon hunter wasn’t enough, two was better. Our other afflic lock logged on with his, and about that time, our other main tank — who happens to main a demon hunter! — showed up. Three! Three demon hunters, did the trick.

(Though really, Matt claims, finding the add before the Nightmare Tentacles spawned was the trick).

So yeah, that was a trash fire, but we got it done.

One thing I will say is: I learned a lot about the mechanics of the various fights, doing these crazy Emerald Nightmare achievements. I came to Legion late, and only saw a bit of EN before Nighthold came out, so there were a lot of fights where I only had the vaguest idea of what was going on. I don’t think I’d fully understood, say, how voting for the cleansed adds on Cenarius worked before, or what spawned Il’gynoth’s slimes, or what you were supposed to do with killing the adds in Xavius phase two (apparently you have to soak the nightmare goo when they die, or they respawn?)

Nighthold

Then we moved on to Nighthold achievements! (Because Mel/Tyrwll, who was leading the achievements run, decided she would rather punch herself in the face repeatedly than do the ToV achievements, especially the Guarm one, and they’re not needed for Glory of the Legion Raider anyway). Here’s how these went.

Skorpyron, “Cage Match.” You have to kill him while staying within the ring at the center of the room. (Not the tiny inner one; the larger outer one). This means no one can fuck up Shockwave and get thrown back into the adds. Also you have to be careful which crystals you stand behind for Shockwave, because some spawn outside this area. But other than that, it was not too hard, and we got it on the first try.

Chronomatic Anomaly, “Grand Opening.” This one is, oddly enough, an achievement that you probably want to do in heroic. Remember those Time Bombs that you don’t want to explode in melee?

Yeah. Now you want to explode them in melee.

Specifically, you want to explode a Time Bomb on every one of the blue circles along the boss’ path. When you successfully do this, it gets a little hard-to-see spotlight effect to show that it’s done.

The reason for doing this in heroic is because you just get more Time Bombs to work with before you hit his enrage timer. We weren’t able to complete this until we tried it on heroic.

Trilliax, “Gluten Free.” I would wager everyone has this already. It involves not eating the Toxic Slices he throws around the room, so pretty much every group probably has this already from their first derpy try at the boss. I know we did.

Spellblade Aluriel, “A Change in Scenery.” This one requires three kills, at least. Being one of the few bosses that can be kited out of her usual spot in the instance, this achievement involves killing Aluriel in different remote places in the dungeon — specifically Star Augur Etraeus’ tower, Krosus’ bridge, and Botanist Telarn’s garden.

The first part is easy — as soon as you step into the building where Star Augur is (next to Aluriel’s patrol path), you’re considered to be in Astromancer’s Rise. So you can just clear the trash and pull her a short distance. That one is only difficult because it’s an enclosed area, and finding a spot to stand that is not detonating arcane orbs and not in front of Annihilate can be tough.

Killing her on Krosus’ bridge is tough for a different reason. It’s distant, which is a pain — part of the achievement is you have to kill Aluriel within two minutes of engaging her. Also when you drop down to Krosus’ bridge, you can’t get back up without killing him. But after you’ve killed him, there won’t be much bridge left to fight Aluriel on.

The way we solved this is to have everybody but the locks (we have two) and one other person jump down, kill the summoner trash before Krosus, and then have the locks summon a tank and a healer back up. The tank and the healer go grab the boss — we picked our most mobile tank (DH) and healer (druid). (Or post-Tomb, just let a healer and a tank hang around upstairs while trash is cleared).

Of course the annoying bit was that it’s very possible for the healer to get Mark of Frost and die to umpteen stacks of Frostbitten right before reaching the bridge. Buuut aside from that hurried battle rez, it went pretty smoothly.

Oh, also, be careful with Searing Brand, lest it kick you back into Krosus’ toxic pee.

Next you have to kill Aluriel in Botanist’s arboretum. Distance is the biggest obstacle here, too, as well as the LOADS AND LOADS of trash to clear along the way. (We joked that many of the Nighthold achievements came down to KILL ALL THE TRASH). You can just kill Botanist normally and then pull Aluriel back to his doom-tree-under-glass. Again our healer got Marked, but this time we were ready for it, and avoided any premature deaths.

Star Augur Etraeus, “Elementalry!” This perhaps one of the most entertaining ones. Remember how at the back of Aluriel’s courtyard, there’s an imprisoned nether elemental? (That you probably killed once, and then never bothered with again, because why would you?) You have to free that guy, drag him up to Astromancer’s Rise (yes, all the way, this time), and then have him survive to the third phase of the Star Augur fight. When the elemental’s nameplate turns to “Well-Traveled Nether Elemental,” then it’s safe to kill him.

The hard part here is cleave: warlocks do cleave that they can’t turn off (Soulflame), DH tanking has a lot of cleave, and our DK cries when he can’t use Breath of Sindragosa. Basically we ended up having to keep the elemental banished throughout the whole fight.

In the process we learned: I suck at banish rotations.

(The second time we did this — on our way to do the Krosus and Gul’dan achievs — I just let Malefic handle the banishing. And our DK is now a fire mage, so 😉 )

But! We finished, and got the achievement.

Krosus, “Burning Bridges.” We didn’t get this one on our first trip — it involves letting fifteen of the Burning Pitch elementals die by dropping off the edge of the bridge when Krosus does his Slam. We only had eight raiders on achievement night, and since the number of Burning Pitch is dependent on the size of the raid, there just weren’t enough elementals to get that.

Also keeping those things alive hurts, even on normal. Tyr’s comment, trying to heal through that, was “Well, that was bracing.”

When we finally did this, we had 15 or so raiders, and we did it on heroic (where a minimum of six Burning Pitch will spawn each time). We also kept a couple of folks at the back killing the elementals that would never get dropped off the bridge. We also had like five healers, and were heroic Tomb-geared.

Tichondrius, “Not For You.” This is a personal achievement — it involves not taking any damage from Echoes of the Void, i.e. actually standing behind the pillars during this ability. During our initial run, everyone already had the achievement; when we went back there post-Tomb, we attempted to get it for the one person who didn’t have it (my husband on Mar), but we forgot that whole thing where each pillar only takes so much damage before it’s destroyed, and he ended up failing it. Womp womp. But another simple run through should be enough…

Elisande, “Infinitesimal.” This achievement is trivially easy — assuming someone in your raid has the Infinite Whelpling pet from Caverns of Time. You summon it during the fight, and eventually Elisande turns it against you (being the mistress of all things time-magic-related, I guess) and you have to kill it. As it turns out, two of our raiders had the pet, so we had two infinite whelplings betraying us!

Botanist Tel’arn, “The Fruit of All Evil.” This one was done as part of a separate alt run. It involves every member of the raid eating one of the “mysterious fruits” lying on the ground in his arboretum. (Continuing the trend for NH achievements, you have to clear a lot of trash in order to get to enough fruit to feed your raid). You then have to keep the debuff from the fruit on you through the end of the encounter, i.e. no one can die during the encounter.

These fruits do one of three weird effects every so often — a stun, a knockback, or summoning a hallucinatory beast that only you can see and attack. So yeah, imagine the craziness of the Botanist fight, only with 100% more wackiness.

The hardest part was surviving the fight with everyone alive, especially given that we were carrying a lot of undergeared toons for this run. We had a few wipes to reset it, but eventually succeeded.

Gul’dan, “I’ve Got My Eyes on You.” Kill sixteen Eyes of Gul’Dan within three seconds? HAHAHAHA NOPE.

Or at least that was what we said until we were sufficiently Tomb-geared, i.e. last week. We tried it first on heroic — because you get four eyes per phase on heroic instead of two, so you need to hold out for fewer replications — but the healing was too intense there, even with our shiny 920-ish gear. Also having dreadlords occasionally dropping from the sky makes things a bit tougher.

Finally we did it on normal, letting it replicate WAY MORE TIMES than we actually needed before saying “go!” Then we annihilated them.

As a note, we found we didn’t need to weaken the eyes beforehand, as there was enough unavoidable cleave going out in our party. Your mileage may vary, based on your raid team.

And that’s it! I now have the Grove Defiler pet, which is an evil moose that disappointingly does not fly:


Credit: Hilox on Wowhead

Links & Accomplishments, 10/1/2017 to 10/7/2017

Brief Update

Expressed with pluses and minus:

+ Matt’s and my 13th anniversary was yesterday, celebrated with a trip to the happiest place on Earth: the Melting Pot.
+ I wrote ~7000 words this weekend on a new story!
+ Our guild finally downed Kil’jaeden in heroic Tomb of Sargeras in WoW.

– Ulnar neuropathy is status quo. Still numb. It might be getting better, but infinitely slowly.
– The story I’m working on is best titled The Story That Shouldn’t Be, because it has no audience except me. It’s basically a fantasy romance, but people who haven’t read Lioness have no reason to care about these characters, and people who have are more likely to wonder why I’m writing the pairing I’m writing. In answer: because it tickles me.
– Internet has been on the fritz, and has picked delightful times to just stop working — like in the middle of heroic Sisters of the Moon, with me healing and Matt tanking.
– Our septic system started backing up again this weekend! Seeing as we just had the tank emptied in August, this meant a blockage. We had an emergency visit from Roto Rooter, and someone is coming with a camera later this week to make sure the main line hasn’t collapsed. Again.
– My cat Brianna has been wheezing for five days or so now. We took her to the vet after it started, not too alarmed, as she was still eating and being her normal bitchy self. They told us it was probably some sort of sinus infection and gave us antibiotics, saying it didn’t seem like there was any lung involvement. There was no improvement, and in fact it seemed to get worse, so Matt took her to the emergency vet this morning. They saw definite lung involvement, so she’s now on oxygen and steroids, with a probable diagnosis of asthma or pneumonia. (And hopefully not heartworm or lungworm or lung cancer…)
– I fucked up my sleep schedule something awful this weekend, and ended up awake until… I don’t even know. 4 or 5 or 6am. So now I am taking a sick day because I am a wreck.

Links

I went looking for the origin of New Englanders’ love of Dunkin’ Donuts, and somehow ended up on a couple of essays by Michael Deresiewicz on The American Scholar, the magazine of Phi Beta Kappa. They synergized well with the current stuff going through my head about deep work, thanks to my recent read of Cal Newport’s book of the same name.

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education. I identified a lot with this one, having attended Vassar, which is a Seven Sisters college. In particular, this quote explains why I tend to struggle to build a writing career — I feel like it should be easier than it is:

They were talking about trying to write poetry, how friends of theirs from college called it quits within a year or two while people they know from less prestigious schools are still at it. Why should this be? Because students from elite schools expect success, and expect it now. They have, by definition, never experienced anything else, and their sense of self has been built around their ability to succeed. The idea of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them, defeats them.

I also enjoyed Deresiewicz’ essay on Solitude and Leadership.

Accomplishments

Writing
– Attended writing group
– Did ~2h of work on Lioness edits
– Wrote 2800 words on a new story in the world of Lioness
– Submitted “The Mirrors of Her Eyes” to Uncanny Magazine
– Submitted “Granny Hubbard” to Flash Fiction Online

Reading
– Read “Fluency”, by Matt Mikalatos, in Flash Fiction Online

Other Media
– Watched the RiffTrax of Oblivion — not the Tom Cruise movie, but a cheesy 90s sci-fi Western with George Takei as a drunken old-timey doctor making terrible Star Trek jokes (i.e. as he takes a swig of whiskey, “Jim Beam me up”). My commentary on this was largely, “This is the worst Sparks Nevada fanfic I’ve ever read.”
– Listened to Food Stuff, “You Butter Believe It’s a Two-Parter: Part 2”
– Listened to Food Stuff, “You Say Tomato, I Say Wolfpeach”
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Bicameralism, Part 2: The Silent Pantheon.” I find the theory of the bicameral mind utterly fascinating, all the while admitting it seems improbable. However, I might use it to explain the differences between the two different types of uplifted creatures in Gods and Fathers, if I ever go back to that novel…
– Listened to Writing Excuses 12.34 – 12.36
– (finally finally finally) Downed Kil’jaeden in heroic Tomb of Sargeras, and got that cherished Ahead of the Curve achievement. (With a month to spare until Antorus comes out!) It was, as all our first kills are, “clean as fuck” — with only one tank, one healer, and two DPS surviving to the end. I survived until about 4% (I was the third and definitely weakest healer, on my resto shaman), but fuck phase three, fuck those obelisks, fuck that blazing orb, fuck Gravity Squeeze.

Social
– Had dinner at Cracker Barrel post-Madrigal with EB
– Celebrated my 13th anniversary with Matt at The Melting Pot

Health
– 1.4mi walk
– Did Zombies Run! S1E22 (2.44mi in 37:56)
– Did Zombies Run! S1E23 (1.90mi in 29:31) — and with that, finished season one!
– Had a massage

Rejection Log

– 10 day rejection from DSF for “Granny Hubbard vs. the Giant Slime”
– 12 day rejection from Fireside for “The Mirrors of Her Eyes”

Picture of the Week

Well, of course I had to share the pic from our heroic KJ kill. (I’m the dwarf shaman Terbodhna, hiding behind Aegwynn and looking fabulous…)

KotN heroic KJ kill, with Illi-chan, because Zallak insisted.

We’re apparently going to group up with another guild to try mythic tonight. What a shitshow that’s going to be… I watched the video for Sisters of the Moon and was like NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

Note: As last week, I’m still on my social media hiatus, so comment here or message me if you want to chat about anything in particular…

Links & Accomplishments, 9/24/2017 to 9/30/2017

Links

I was feeling down due to my ongoing ulnar neuropathy, so EB sent me this to cheer me up: A Portrait of James I’s ‘Husband’ Has Reappeared in Glasgow. Many of you may know my interest in, as I have joked, “hot historical homosexuals”*, and I’ve been particularly intrigued by the odd relationship between James I and the first Duke of Buckingham. (Indeed, this Buckingham — the Buckingham of The Three Musketeers — is in part the inspiration for the character of Bizel in Lioness).

So yes, seeing this lovely Rubens of him — which I’d seen before, but like everyone else, had assumed was the work of a different artist — fills me with glee 🙂

Also, fun fact! The article mentions that the King referred to Buckingham as “Steenie” after St. Stephen, who was said to have the face of an angel. True, that! But more specifically, he was comparing him to a painting of St. Stephen that was once in his home. If that strikes you as a little odd, keep in mind James was prooooobably getting a little senile by the time he met Buckingham…

(I maintain there was probably syphilis running through the Stuarts. Blame Lord Darnley).

(Also while James I is not my favorite Stuart king, he is up there in my estimation. I like to imagine him loping around Whitehall, being eccentric and aggressively Scottish at things).

*Well, bisexual; and sexual orientation is a thoroughly 20th-century concept, anyway. But that isn’t nearly so euphonic.

Accomplishments

Reading
– Read Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner

Other Media
– Watched RiffTrax of Psychotronic Man
– Watched Penny Dreadful S1E1
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “The Problem With a Pinterest-Perfect Life”
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “Baby Powder is Killing Black Women”
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Bicameralism, Part 1: The Voice of God”
– Listened to Food Stuff, “Expiration Dates: Best if Listened By”
– Listened to Food Stuff, “You Butter Believe It’s a Two-Parter: Part 1”

LARP
– NPCed for Madrigal 3. Borderline, this, since the event ended on Sunday, but I’ll allow it 😉

Health
– Did Zombies Run! S1E20 (1.85mi in 30:16)
– Did Zombies Run! S1E21 (1.73mi in 27:44)
– Did Ninja Fitness Endurance workout #4, Agility #2, Zen #4, as well as some freeform core exercises (crunches, dead bugs, alternate heel touchers)
– Had a whole slew of medical stuff done (blood work, an appointment with an orthopedist/hand specialist, and a nerve conduction study/EMG. The latter I highly ANTI-recommend)

Picture of the Week

Again borderline, since it’s from Sunday of Madrigal. But I already know what you’re getting as next week’s pic, so here, I am, orcing it up for the final field fight of the weekend:

As you’ll recall, I made this costume for the first event of Mad3 — and aside from fifteen minutes at the campaign opener, I haven’t gotten to use it since. So when Griff approached me on Sunday and asked if I had the costume with me, I was all HELLZ YEAH.

It was also my first time really being a lieutenant/boss in a field fight! And my first time getting to throw Death effects. (Luckily for the PCs, the one I threw missed).

Pro-tip: orc skirts need a proper belt to them, or they may end up around your feet, showing off the latest in orc lingerie.

Oh, and a reminder: I’m still doing my social media hiatus, so if you want to discuss anything in this post with me, drop a comment below.

Brief Update & Accomplishments, 9/17/2017 to 9/23/2017

I live! Aside from the fact that my ulnar nerve in my left arm is no longer on speaking terms with me, I am doing pretty well, having finally crawled out of a depressive episode of over a month.

However, I have sworn off social media for the next thirty days, so if you want to reach me, the best bet is a)texting/messaging me (I’m still using FB Messenger, even if I’m not using Facebook), b) I dunno, smoke signals? I decided to try this social media sabbatical on somewhat of a lark, but I’m finding it delightful not to feel like I have the universe yelling in my ear all the time. I may never come back!

(And yes, I’m still crossposting to social media. If you want to reply to something from this post, your best bet is commenting here, because I sure won’t see it otherwise).

To be frank, I shouldn’t underplay the problem with my left arm. My pinkie and ring finger have been numb for three weeks now. I’m scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow, and to have a nerve conduction study with a physiatrist next month, but in the meantime I have no relief. I try to stay positive, but my work involves typing, and my hobbies generally do, too, so it’s exceptionally hard not being able to do what I want.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

Accomplishments

Writing
– Edited FSOTU story “Pinions” for writing group
– Did a second editing pass of FSOTU story “The Mirrors of Her Eyes”
– Submitted “Mirrors” to Clarkesworld (and got a prompt rejection)
– Submitted “Mirrors” to Fireside
– Did a second editing pass of FSOTU story “Granny Hubbard vs. the Giant Slime”
– Submitted “Granny Hubbard” to Daily Science Fiction

Reading
– (Re)read The Dragonbone Chair, by Tad Williams
– Read Deep Work, by Cal Newport

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “The Psychology of Tattoos”
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “Women & White Supremacy”
– Listened to Happier with Gretchen Rubin, episode 131-133

Social/Travel
– Took trip to New Hampshire with EB
– Visited the Hamilton Smith Memorial Chapel in Durham, NH
– Visited the Woodman Institute Museum in Dover, NH
– Visited the Madison Boulder in Madison, NH
– Stayed at Adventure Suites in North Conway, NH
– Had dinner at Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Company in N. Conway
– Visited the Memorial Arch of Tilton in Northfield, NH
– Visited the Franklin Pierce Manse in Concord, NH
– Visited the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, NH and saw the Lake Winnepesaukee Mystery Stone
– Visited the Old Man in the Mountain replica in Hooksett, NH
– Had lunch at LaLa’s Hungarian Pastries in Manchester, NH
– Visited Cat Alley in Manchester, NH
– Visited the Dancing Lion Chocolate Shop in Manchester, NH
– Visited the grave of William G. Bruce in Mont Vernon, NH
– Visited the Swing Bridge in Milford, NH
– Visited the grave of Caroline Cutter in Milford, NH
– Had dinner at Yamato Japan in Leominster, MA with EB

Health
– Did Zombies Run! S1E18 (1.91mi in 29:55)
– Did Zombies Run! S1E19 (1.78mi in 29:05)

Picture of the Week


One of the highlights of this weekend’s New Hampshire adventure: a clamshell bed.

Rejection Log

– 2-day rejection from Clarkesworld for “The Mirrors of Her Eyes”

Links & Accomplishments, 8/6/2017 to 8/12/2017

Links

ADHD Survival Guide: How I Stopped Procrastinating and Got My Sh!t Together, by Sam Dylan Finch. Regardless of whether or not you formally have ADHD, this is super useful. The possibilities of Todoist sound amazing, although I admit I’m pretty tied into using Habitica for my task list these days.

Car That Caught Fire on Interstate 89 on Friday Belonged to Vermont Gelato. From near my hometown! I feel bad for the owner, but the idea of gelato catching fire is still pretty funny.

Accomplishments

I was traveling this week, so there was a lot of reading and play-watching, and not so much exercise.

Reading
– Read His Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik
– Read The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

Writing
– Wrote story for round 3 of FSOTU, the Codex summer flash fiction contest

Other Media
– Watched the RiffTrax of Final Justice
– Listened to The Training Dummies #172
– Listened to Happier with Gretchen Rubin #128
– Saw five plays at the Stratford Festival: The School for Scandal, The Virgin Trial, Tartuffe, Timon of Athens, and The Changeling.
– Saw the play The Downs at the Blyth Festival.

Social
– Traveled to Ontario for the Stratford Festival, and visited with my mom there

Health
– (Mon) Ninja Fitness Endurance workout #7, Strength #5, Agility #4, Zen #4

Picture of the Week


Part of my tea haul from my favorite tea shop, Distinctly Tea in Stratford, Ontario.

in Blog | 234 Words

Links & Accomplishments, 7/30/2017 to 8/5/2017

Links

I found this author’s ruminations on ADHD illuminating, and will probably post most about it at another time.

“In the Court of the Mad King,” by Andrew Shvarts. Scott Lynch tweeted about how modern-day politics makes for jealous fantasists, and Shvarts wrote this story in response. I would read this book, but I sure wish it wasn’t happening in my country.

Craft Beer Names Invented by Neural Network. I think the Strong Pale Ales get the best names, and I would definitely drink a beer called “Thick Back.”

My pal Django has a new fantasy trilogy coming out from Orbit!

Accomplishments

Writing
– (Tues) Brainstormed with Skye some fixes for the ending of Lioness
– (Weds) Worked on Lioness editing ~1h

Reading
– Read “Scattered Along the River of Heaven”, by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld Year Six)
– Read “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare (Clarkesworld Year Six)
– Read “Prayer” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld Year Six)
– Read “A Silhouette Against Armageddon” by John Wiswell (Fireside Fiction, August 2017)

Other Media
– Listened to The Training Dummies episode #170 and #171
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “The Misnomer of ‘Manterruptions’.”
– Listened to By the Book, “America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money”
– Listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class, “Ibn Battuta, the Traveler of Islam”
– Played a game of Mysterium
– Played a game of Mansions of Madness (second edition)

Social
– Visited with Matt’s parents at the IWANE dog show; went to Bocado in Worcester for dinner
– Had dinner with EB at the Traveler Restaurant in Union, CT
– Hosted a visit from Mike and Josh

Health
– (Mon) Ninja Fitness Agility workout #4, Strength workout #4, Zen workout #3
– (Weds) Zombies Run S1 E11 (2.16mi in 34:28)
– (Weds) NF Zen workout #3
– (Thurs) 30min walk
– (Fri) ZR S1 E12 (2.09mi in 31.13), NF Strength workout #4, NF Zen workout #3

Picture of the Week


A dramatic hibiscus flower in someone’s yard in Framingham.

Accomplishments, 7/23/2017 to 7/29/2017

Writing
– Wrote a story for week 2 of FSOTU (Codex summer flash contest)
– Wrote blog post: Becoming Shadowborn: Costuming My Shadowvale character
– Did ~45min of editing on Lioness

Reading
– Read “Last Chance”, by Nicole Kornher-Stace (Clarkesworld, July 2017)
– Read “The Bridgegroom” by Bo Balder (Clarkesworld July 2017)
– Finished Heartless by Gail Carriger

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Svalbard: Land of Snow and Apocalypse Arks”
– Listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class, “Catalina de Erauso”
– Listened to Happier with Gretchen Rubin #127
– Listened to Writing Excuses 12.30
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “Work Fails”

Health
– (Weds) Zombies, Run S1 E9 (2.20mi in 33:29)
– (Mon am/pm; Thurs am) Planks/wall sits x 3
– (Fri) Ninja Fitness Agility workout #3 and Strength workout #3 — and finally gained my yellow belt!
– (Sat) Zombies, Run S1 E10 (2.38mi in 37:35)

Becoming Shadowborn: costuming my Shadowvale character

As I promised back in Into the Shadowvale, I’m going to share the details of my character Melusina’s costuming. Mostly for the benefit of Fair Escape 😉

Costuming for this game was fairly simple, in that I made exactly nothing. I am coming to realize that while I enjoy putting together costumes, I rarely enjoy sewing. Thankfully I am at a point in my life where I can just throw money at the problem.

That said, there were a lot of moving pieces, and I’d like to give a nod to all the vendors who made it possible.

Here’s Melusina again, for visual reference. I realize that ALL BLACK ON BLACK is an aesthetic that’s hard to photograph, so I’ll add some pictures of individual items, too.

Let’s start from the top, shall we?

Headwrap: is a lightweight black scarf I found at Savers. I tie it behind my head, and roll one end into a turban (thanks, Shadows of Amun, for teaching me how to do that!), leaving the other to hang. I may do something different in hotter weather; we’ll see.

Hair: Shadowborn are said to have hair in colors of purple or red. I knew I didn’t want to wear a wig, so hair pieces and falls of various sorts seemed the best idea. Thus I opted for these deep purple/black bangs from Damnation Hair.


Credit: Damnation Hair

I was very pleased with this piece! (Although the matching hair falls I bought didn’t work out, for various reasons). It is human hair, which means it’s actually not unpleasant to have hanging in my face, like synthetic hair can sometimes be. The seam where the hair clips in is fairly obvious, and does need to be covered, however — hence the headwrap. I could probably make do with some sort of headband in hot weather.

Lipstick: is a matte lip paint in “Raine Fever” from Coloured Raine, the most enthusiastic cosmetics vendor I’ve ever encountered. (Putting in an order prompts a mailstorm of “wow, we’re so excited to serve you!” messages). Thanks to Abrihette, who plays Samaran priestess Azar, for turning me on to this company.


Credit: Coloured Raine Cosmetics

Elf ears: are custom-painted elf/hobbit/pixie ears from Etsy seller Elven Caravan. Their ears are available in a selection of colors, designed to be to matched your skin tone. They had many other ear options, too, should these ears not suit. I made a good choice as to color, if I do say so myself — I had at least one person tell me I had the “most matched elf ears” among the Faeborn. (In case you were curious, my shade of White Girl is “medium”).


Credit: Elven Caravan

Ear cuffs: are moon and star ear cuffs from Silver Palace, a Thai Etsy seller. Ear cuffs are helpful when wearing elf ears, I learned, to hide the seam where the elf ear meets human skin.


Credit: Silver PalaceTH

Contacts: Shadowborn are supposed to have violet or grey eyes. Problem: I have brown eyes. I could have just ignored this requirement, since I had other clear markers of my elf-ness, but I wanted to do something to nod in this direction. Unfortunately, since I wear prescription lenses, I found my options somewhat limited in terms of colors. (I may just not have been searching hard enough; Ashleigh, who plays Forestborn witch Lairel, had better luck finding weird prescription lenses).

I ended up ordering FreshLook Colors in Violet from 1-800-CONTACTS, which is a fairly normal sort of colored lens — you could probably get them from your optometrist. They definitely add a purple/grey cast to my eyes, but are not as dramatic as they could be. Notably, they also add a bit of a fog to my vision — not impairing, but definitely noticeable — and so required a bit of practice beforehand.

(I tried to take a picture of my purple eyes, but it’s really hard to photograph, folks!)

Here’s a headshot of Melusina, to focus on these details:

Tattoo: Melusina has, for Backstory Reasons ™, a tattoo of the letter ‘M’ on her neck. Given the armor I need to wear, this is rarely visible, but I wanted it to be there, nonetheless. Thankfully, there is such a thing as temporary tattoo printer paper. The biggest obstacle, after that, was the fact that I wanted to use was a PC-only font (Blackadder, a script font), but I needed some functions of Photoshop in order to make the sheet of tattoos, which I only have on my Mac. Much transferring of files was involved in bringing this to life.

Armor: It’s hard to see in the pic since it blends in with my clothes, but I’m wearing a leather tabard/jerkin as my required physrep for three points of armor. The tabard, in black, is from Larperlei, a German Etsy shop.


Credit: LarperLei

Shirt: In the pics I’m wearing a black shirt from The Pirate Dressing (I think it’s the Cap’n Quincy?), similar to one I already own, but which my husband stole for this event *looks meaningfully*. I ended up borrowing a larger size of the shirt from my friend Chris S, who conveniently plays one of the Veiled (a.k.a black-clad undead) in 5G Silverfire.

My other shirt for this event is a “Classic Renaissance Shirt” from Sofi’s Stitches via Medieval Collectibles.


Credit: Medieval Collectibles

Trousers: in the picture I’m wearing a pair of black breeches from Sofi’s Stitches via Medieval Collectibles.


Credit: Medieval Collectibles

I also have a pair of (voluminous!) Viking Linen Trousers from Armstreet, also in black.


Credit: Armstreet

Boots: Are my usual larp boots: Men’s Black Leather Knee High Renaissance Boots, from House of Andar.


Credit: House of Andar

Belt: This is my typical belt for larping, the 2.5″ Ladies Warrior Belt from Ravenswood Leather, with buckled pouch (something similar to the Corsair Satchel, though looped) and two Noble Jack Sword Frogs.


Credit: Ravenswood Leather

Swords: two 46″ longs from B3 Imagination Studio, i.e. Ben Becker’s company. I went for the custom sword design, opting for the angled tip, the flat sides, a round pommel, a wrap showing the phases of the moon, and a silver crossguard in the shape of the crescent moon.

Accomplishments, 7/16/2017 to 7/22/2017

Writing
– Wrote two blog post: “Things I may or may not have done at Readercon 28” and “Into the Shadowvale”
– Worked on Lioness edits ~2h 15m

Reading
– Read “Dragon Girl”, by Cat Sparks (reprinted in Podcastle #479)

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You, “Women and ADHD”
– Listened to Food Stuff, “How Did French Cuisine Become King?”
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Artificial Gravity: Cosmic Wheels and Hurtling Towers”
– Listened to By the Book, “Past Lives, Future Healing”
– Listened to Writing Excuses 12.29
– Listened to Happier with Gretchen Rubin #126
– Listened to Ditch Diggers #43

Health
– (Mon) Zombies Run S1 E7 (2.56mi in 40min)
– (Weds) Ninja Fitness Endurance workout #3, Agility #3, and Zen #1
– (Fri) Zombies Run S1 E8 (2.51mi in 38 min)

in Blog | 132 Words