Monthly Archives: November 2011

Experiments, Beta Testing, and Skyrim

Okay, so this is going to be a LONG post…I’ve been a busy man lately and I have wanted to review Skyrim but it sucked me in…and then I was beta testing SWTOR this past weekend so didn’t even have a chance to play Skyrim more, and I also want to talk about other things in my life. Feel free to skip to the sections that interest you if you wish.

Experiments in Life Hacking

So, last week I had a little bit of money and decided to download some stuff on to my Kindle. I got a couple of recreational books and I saw this one:

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Now, the sex part didn’t interest me because I am not getting any at the moment, but the rest…rapid fat-loss, I am in! Becoming superhuman? Okay! So I downloaded it. And I started reading. The author approaches things with a practical mindset. He says at one point that he doesn’t expect you to believe everything he says, but to don’t let it stop you from trying it. He’s not a doctor, or a scientist, just a dude who wanted to get the most out of his diet and workouts and found some interesting little shortcuts.

Okay, man, I am still listening.

So as I am reading, I started searching for something from this book to try. I mean changing my eating habits isn’t the easiest thing…I want to try something small first to see if it works. Skepticism at it’s finest. So out of all the things I decide to try taking cold showers instead of warm ones. Pretty simple right? Well besides cold showers being used to treat depression (which scientists are still scratching their heads over why it works) the book claims it jump starts your metabolism if you take one immediately upon waking. Now I have only been doing this for 5 days (the requisite number, apparently, for humans to ingrain some activity as part of their routine…from the book) but I have felt a dramatic uplift in my mood, and analyzed my reaction to this not so great activity. Since I have been taking scalding hot showers all of my life the transition was not easy.

Friday, Day 1 – Have to really psyche myself up to get into the water, and it is a constant act of will to stay there. Make it through about 5 minutes of the ten minutes recommended time.

Saturday, Day 2 – At home now, actually woke up and had a mini anxiety attack about taking a cold shower. Finally snapped myself out of it by calling myself an idiot for freaking out about a SHOWER, and comforting myself with the thought of only 4 days left. Eased into the cold more and set an alarm to be sure I stay in for 10 minutes. After my shower experience an immediate spike in happiness and can’t help but grin the rest of the day.

Sunday, Day 3 – Have a smaller anxiety attack, but this is curbed by the mood spike I had. Imagine that, I enjoy being happy. No problem staying in the whole time.

Monday, Day 4 – Ambivalent about the cold shower at this point, just want to get it over with. Found out a better way to acclimate myself to the cold, so the shower is not so torturous.

Tuesday, Day 5 – Actually woke up looking forward to taking my shower, quest complete.

Now, it remains to be seen if this has any effect on my metabolism or weight especially since I am only quasi-dieting (I do my best!!). But I know, for the mood lifting alone it was worth it, and I don’t even feel like it is an inconvenience any more. So maybe this guy has a few things right…but anyway, kind of cool, huh?

Beta Testing and Initial Thoughts on Skyrim

So I was in the SW:TOR beta this past weekend. It is a TON of fun. To quote one of my friends last night “It’s like this game is a drug, and now they are taking away my stash…”, It has an AMAZING story line for an MMO, great character development, and I was worried the grouping would be clunky, not as much fun, or not as rewarding. But there are some missions that absolutely require you to have a group or use your companion (about 50 to 75% equivalent to a group member) and take up a LOT of slack for them. Other than that you can go into other people’s class missions (read storyline) and help them with their objectives, and of course do the open world missions with them. One of the truly awesome things is the group dialog system. Basically, whenever you talk to an NPC you go into a conversation and get multiple options kind of like Mass Effect if you have ever played that. Well if you are in a group you all pick, and a random roll is done to see who actually speaks. Now, you don’t get Light Side or Dark Side points if the person wins, you get the points from whatever option you chose but it creates an interesting dynamic, and a real flow of conversation where the entire group is chiming in at some point and getting a chance to speak. And also an illusion of competition (“Yeah that’s right! I win! We look like buttholes now! HA!” And yes that actually happened) for group conversations that is fun and engaging. Another point, although we just did the first one, are the Flashpoints which are SWTOR’s “dungeons”, This is not your daddy’s dungeon crawl kids. When my buddies and I got to the space port to leave the Jedi planet we had two options…a personal shuttle to Coruscant OR fly first class on this freighter with your friends. I was like “Sweet, we get to kick it on this freighter” and so you are going along…we tried to gamble but they wouldn’t let us because we were Jedi and might cheat…suddenly you are attacked, and the “dungeon” begins. But really, to steal my friend’s summary of it, it feels more like an extended quest line than an instance. It was such a natural extension of the world, and well…fun. The ONLY way we found it hard was *gasp, shock* my friend had to mostly sit back and heal on the boss fights. 😛 I am glad I had to money to preorder the game, because it’s going to be a long two weeks…I can’t imagine waiting longer.

And now for something completely different.

The Elder Scrolls…ah, I have loved thee since Morrowind. I have played Oblivion for over 72 hours, had a completely maxed out character, and beat nearly every quest line in the game. Enter Skyrim. At first, I was like “Wait! Where are my ‘classes’? I don’t have to pick skills? No statistics? WHAT IS HAPPENING!” but I kept playing and it is interesting that a natural set of skills kind of extends out of your play style. So I like that…and you aren’t running around for 3 hours trying to let stuff hit you so you can level up your block/heavy armor skill to get those last few points of endurance. (Don’t judge me, maxing out every stat in Oblivion takes dedication!) My only complaint so far is that some things are based on your level (mostly instanced areas, caves and the like) but the open world is not. Which while interesting, sucks when you, the Dovakhim savior of all, running like a scared little girl from a Frost Troll because he regenerates faster than you can do damage to him. Yeah, bud, don’t worry, I will be back… Killing dragons is epic, every quest line is good enough to distract you from the main one, and as long as you develop at least a few skills devoting to killing stuff you are good to go. My first character was more sneaky and kind of got into trouble…so my second character for a long time I played as an agile warrior until her combat skills were up to snuff. So just a warning. Also, I will have a much more in depth look once I finish the main story line…but that could take time as I keep getting distracted chasing butterflies (for alchemy ingredients I swear!!), crafting, and doing the thief and mage missions…not to mention I haven’t even found the Dark Brotherhood, but I know they are around somewhere.

So initial thoughts. It’s awesome. Go buy it. 😀

Well, kids, that’s all for today. Time to get the day started!


Walking Down Memory Lane…

Finally. Sorry I have been gone for so long. I have been moving, and then I was having trouble posting because my internet at my new place doesn’t seem to like WordPress much. I don’t know what changed but luckily I can post again. So…here we go.


Had the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for my friend’s wedding tonight. It was…well a wedding rehearsal. The dinner part was…okay. But really the part I enjoyed was afterwards hanging out at my bro’s house with everyone. It’s so great to see all of my old high school friends again and talk about how they are doing in their lives. We have always been closer than just friends…more like a family, and when we get back together it’s like we never left. I hope we always stay that way…it’s a great feeling. It is especially great to have a support group outside of your family. I always feel like my family HAS to love me and support me, but my friends chose me. Or…well…we chose each other.

And one of them, who I have never really gotten along with kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Of course, she has been doing it for years so I don’t know why that would have changed. First she scolded me like I was five years old for using language she didn’t approve of. Which I respect the sentiment, and usually try and avoid using foul language around people who are bothered by it, but she could have been nicer about it. She also asked me if I knew about this big life changing decision she is making, and when I told her I knew already she launched into talking about it, and how she was kind of sad because if she did it she would miss going to our ten year high school reunion and seeing people’s reactions. I told her not to feel bad, that I would probably miss our ten year reunion too because I might be going to school far away. And she just kind of brushed it off and turned away from me. Self-absorbed much?

Then on top of that, if she does go for it, I feel like she is making a bad decision. I don’t feel like she has done everything she can with what she has. She has an amazing degree, and I assume a passion for what she studied in college, but didn’t do anything with it afterwards…I am guessing because it was probably too hard. I get that…I’ve written here before that I feel like I have never really challenged myself, and that I have always taken the easy way out and done just enough to scrape by. It is kind of funny, because I remember a time when she was in school that she made me feel like an utter failure for dropping out…and yet now I feel like she has completely given up on whatever her dreams were and is settling for a life-decision that she can’t take back. At least I am still trying to better myself and realize my dreams…although the last couple of weeks have been kind of bumps in my road. Thinking about all this tonight also reminds me of the best advice I ever got from my Dad and that was “You don’t fail until you stop getting up and trying again.” You hear similar things all the time, but coming from a man who barely graduated high school, dropped out of college, and still managed to create an amazing life for himself and touch so many people that my Mom’s church was full to overflowing with people to pay their respects when he passed was absolutely inspiring.

I just wish I was close enough to this girl to actually sit her down and say some of this and have it get across. But the truth is ever since I had a crush on her in high school we have never been close…maybe she thinks I still feel that way, I don’t know. I hate to see anyone in my adopted family, even someone who ruffles my fur more often than not, making such a permanent decision and not doing it for the right reasons.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong and she does have all the right reasons. Only God knows if she does.



COMING SOON: Review of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim….once all the wedding craziness dies down.