What a long strange…year…it’s about to be.

Starry, Starry Blackberry Wallpaper

I’m not going to do my standard “Year in Review” post today.  I’m also not going to list resolutions for the new year that I will certainly break.  What I am going to do is tell you my plans for the year, so that this time 2014 I can look at this post again and see how close I got to getting it all right.

A short disclaimer:  This optimism is destined not to last, so enjoy it while it is here.  I’m sure I’ll be back to my regular emo ray of sunshine self very, very soon.

This year is going to be very lucky for me and mine.  We have a house.  We will have a fence and a deck soon.  Our basement floor will return to normal.  We will get all our boxes from the overseas move unpacked before summer.  We will have guests from the UK and the US and Canada and wherever else we have friends to come stay with us. I will be having a Eurovision finals party at my house in May. Daisy and Clown will maintain, healthy and happy, as they are today.

Our family will grow.  We’ve gotten downright scientific about this whole process, and while we will definitely increase the canine population of the house with a larger and fuzzier newcomer, I am confident that we will also add to our family of humans.

I will get something published.  In the past, I have resolved to “make part of my living with my writing” and I’ve done that. Daisy’s book and my others are still available on Lulu.com. This year, however, is when that takes a step up.  This is the year that all my nano-noveling and other pecking at my keyboard will be shared with the world, as well as the year that I truly start to believe that I have a story to tell that people want to read.

I will be doing more things in the name of self-care.  There will be yoga and meditation to quiet my mind as well as a dedicated effort to start running again while my knees will still allow me to do so.

There will be travel.  Watch this space, as I will be filling all five or six of you in on my travels in a more timely manner than I have in the past.  Along those lines, and in combination with the above publishing work, there will be a photo book in the works of our honeymoon trip.  We are fairly decent photogs, me and my Mister, and I want to share the incredible experience we had with others.

I am going to be a better listener and friend, and will spend more time doing and less time talking about doing.  Of course, this blog doesn’t count…

Finally, I’m going to look back on this post on 1 Jan 2014 and smile at all I’ve accomplished this year.  Happy New Year, Lettuce Readers.  Live long and prosper, and all that jazz.

Lions and…yeah, you know the rest

Tower of London by Nancy Dunne
Tower of London, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

I don’t have much to say today, and clearly haven’t all summer, if you go by my blog here! I’m formulating a “catch-up” post about what has happened since returning from Europe, Simon moving to the US, and our seemingly never ending search for a house in Greenville. In the meantime, please enjoy these lions made of wire and mesh that grace the front of the Tower of London.

Hey, at least it isn’t a bunny with a pancake on its head…

How Gaming Levels My RL

Tired and Fussy by Nancy Dunne
Tired and Fussy, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

First, let me say for the .0000 of you that are Lettuce Readers that didn’t know, I’m a gamer. I play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). Currently I play Everquest and Star Wars:The Old Republic but I have toons (Avatars, characters, etc) running around in Jade Dynasty, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Runes of Magic, and probably Free Realms and Shaiya. I say probably because those two…oh, and Perfect World International as well…those THREE didn’t hold my attention long enough to count, really. Now then, disclaimer done, on to the post.

Simon and I are currently on a long-overdue honeymoon. We started in London on the 17th of May, flew to Paris on the 19th, and have just returned to the UK yesterday. We’re currently (as I type this) at his folks’ place up in Newcastle for a few days before heading off again to spend the rest of our trip in one of my fav cities on earth, Edinburgh.

The picture to the right, there, was taken last Monday. We went to the Louvre because it was chucking it down with rain (dontcha love Yorkshireisms?) and we thought it would be a good way to stay dry and see Paris. Dry, yes. Massively huge with ridiculously hard floors and lots of steps? Yeah, sadly.

So…onto how “Gaming Levels my RL” (Real Life). The idea for this post came to me as Simon and I were learning how to navigate the insanity that is public transport in Paris. There is a train, called the RER, a subway of sorts called the Metro, and then a tramway that thankfully we didn’t have to even think too hard about while there. We had gotten turned around…for about the millionth time…when I took hold of the map and started navigating. We found the right transit line and sat down, and Simon mentioned how good I was at navigating. I started thinking about where I learned to read maps with such ease and came to the conclusion that it happened in the old days of Everquest.

When your character got killed, you had to run back to where you died and 1. hopefully get resurrected and/or, if no “rez” was possible, 2. collect your things. I spent a LOT of time running all over the game world of Everquest (Norrath) and most of that time the in-game map was superimposed over the view of my toon running. Map reading should have been a skill set in that game. I would have been a Master Mapper.

Okay, that sounds too much like a hip-hop performer gone very wrong. Moving on.

The revelation about my Master Mapping led me to think about the other places in my life that my gaming experience has helped me level up (gain experience and progress to higher ability and content) in my real life. I came up with two more things that I’m good at in real life that I think I can tie to gaming.

The first one (or second one, really…that is counting which is part of Math, in which my skill level is a fat (0). Anyway…): Navigating crowds and new places without drawing agro. “Drawing agro” is a gaming term for moving your toon too close to something that wants to eat you. It realizes that you are close and BLAMMO. Dead Druid. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Again, moving on…

I am pretty good at not getting in anyone’s way, especially in a crowd. I think Simon was annoyed with me a few times because in a long queue I would move out and around a corner (opening up a place for someone to cut in front of us) just so that no one would accidentally back into me, thus drawing agro. I can also weave through a crowd when on the move, avoiding the very social (meaning one mob/bad guy will see you and will bring several friends to eat you) survey takers and beggars in London and Paris and managing to not knock anyone out with my backpack as I run past.

The third one (hey! Math (1) for me!) is auto-follow. In Everquest and other games, there is a command that you type that lets your toon follow along where someone else’s toon goes. That can be dangerous, in game, when that other toon runs into a forest or around a path through a mountainous area. In real life, if you don’t pay attention when you’re following or watch out for the person on /af with you, one or both of you will get lost. Occasionally in Paris I almost got knocked out cold by Simon’s backpack because I was following too closely and he decided to look around to see if I was still there. Bless him, he doesn’t game.

Anyway, those are ways that gaming has positively affected my real life. Don’t try to comment on the negs, okay? I know all of them…and to quote Stan from South Park, ” I am socializing *****! I’m logged on to an MMORPG, with people from all over the world and getting XP with my party using teamspeak.”

And yes, I realize how sad that was, quoting a cartoon character to rationalize online gaming fandom. So? /rude

/camp
/ex

It’s almost time!


Eurovision Song Contest
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne

No, not for me to finish working at The Bookshop (that was yesterday) or for me to move to America (two weeks from today I’ll be there). It’s almost time for Eurovision!

Yesterday, at work, one of my colleagues said that he’d always thought my interest in Eurovision was ironic. Couldn’t be farther from the truth! Now I will admit to some giggling and finger pointing and rabid tweeting during the two semis and the final but overall, I love it! I think the UK finally has a good shot this year (“I Can” by Blue), while being simultaneously horrified that Ireland might have an equally good shot with Jedward. I’ve been on YouTube pouring over the official entry videos and made lists of what I MUST download for my iPod. I still listen to entries from last year and the year before, cringing at some and…well, I haven’t pulled out a full catwalk boogie on a train platform yet, but I’ve still got 13 days, hey?

So instead of feeling a failure for repatting so soon, mourning the loss of the friends I’ve made here, or going through my things to weed out and pack for my flight on the 19th, I’m choosing to immerse myself in all things Eurovision. Glitz, glamour, bad tunes, crazy costumes, what could be better?

(And seriously, if you watch So You Think You Can Dance, Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor, Strictly, or any of that sort, all I can say is pots and kettles my friend…oh, and nuls points!)