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Last fall, when BTH & I found out that we would be adopting, I negotiated a parental leave agreement for this semester that involved me teaching just one class — organic chemistry — instead of my usual load. I would take two weeks completely off when the baby arrived, during which time a colleague (who is also my Dean) would teach the class. For the once-a-week three hour lab component of the class, I would attend the first half-hour and get the students going, after which my Dean would “babysit” the students for the rest of the course.

Yesterday afternoon, for their Lab Final, I gave my students an assignment to use the chemical knowledge that they have developed over the past two years of studying chemistry to a) extract pigments from spinach, raspberries, and blackberries and b) use those pigments to dye hard-boiled eggs. I told them that I wanted to see pretty pictures of the results in their lab reports.

My Dean joked that instead of taking pictures, they should show me the eggs by hiding them in my office — with each student’s grade being dependent upon how cleverly they hid their eggs.

This morning, I walked into my office and saw this:


I burst out laughing. They actually DID it!

The rest of my morning was lost to finding the rest of the eggs:










I remembered that there had been sixteen eggs, but after I found these fourteen, I searched and searched all over my office and just could not find the last two.

When I went to class, my students were amused at my tale of how they had caused me to thoroughly waste my morning. They told me where to find the fifteenth egg:

The sixteenth egg wasn’t actually in my office. It was still in the lab because the student was trying to intensify the color by soaking it overnight in the dyebath he had prepared. He went and got it, to complete the set:

The eggs dyed with the natural pigments really quite nicely, especially the ones dyed with the blackberry pigment mixture. The really brightly colored eggs, however, were done with standard food coloring, which we keep in the lab for a handful of lower-level experiments.

I love my OChem students (and my boss)!

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As you might have guessed from the observation that the flow of my posting continued un-interrupted, the adoption that was supposed to happen at the beginning of January fell through.

Fortunately, the agency was able to match us with another birth mom very quickly. We just got the news that she’s been admitted to the hospital to have the baby, and we are in a flurry of packing our suitcases and the car to drive to the city where the agency is.

Serendipitously, it is also the city where my paternal grandfather, who will be turning 100 in a few months and is still hale and hearty and active, lives — and I’m super excited about getting to visit him, too!

So if I don’t manage to post again for weeks or months, well, that’s what happened 😄

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Zeirah and DeezWurds and RepGrind have all tagged me for the latest iteration of the blog survey meme.

Aww, thanks, guys!

Zeirah asks:

If you couldn’t blog about WoW anymore, what would you blog about?
Before I began playing WoW, I blogged about Harry Potter on LiveJournal for several years. WoW came into my life at about the same time as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published. By the time I started this blog, about two and a half years after I began playing WoW, I was barely posting in my LJ anymore — and by now, I haven’t logged into LJ at all for a few years.
Eventually, I will drift away from WoW, and maybe when that happens I will have drifted to something else that I will feel like blogging about — but for now, I really don’t know.

What’s the best and worst thing about blogging?
The best thing is the people I’ve gotten to know! Though I recognize that it’s not likely to happen, I would be delighted to meet you folks in person. For instance, if I ever manage to go to Australia (and to the right part of the continent), I want to do lunch with Navimie and Cymre 😀
The worst thing is when it’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve posted and I feel like I ought to make a post just to keep from having too long of a post drought, but I can’t think of anything to say.

What’s your favourite achievement in WoW?
The original “Loremaster” was my default answer to this question for years, because I worked hard to get it with Kamalia in late Wrath.
Maybe it’s really the one(s) to fish up all the coins in the Dalaran fountain, though. I wrote down in a notebook all the little tidbits of lore from the flavor text on all the coins when I did the original achievement back in Wrath. I’ve been meaning to set aside some time to do the new version of the achievement for the Legion Dalaran fountain.

How long have you been playing computer games?
We got our first computer at home when I was maybe seven or eight? It was an Atari, but I don’t know what version it was; it was the late 1980s, and the machine took two-and-a-half inch hard-cased disks, not five inch floppies. It had two external disk drives — one to put the program disk in to read, and the other to put a blank disk in to save files to. Donald Duck’s Playground was the best game! At school, in elementary school, I played Oregon Trail and various versions of Carmen Sandiego. As home computers got better, I played Jinxter and Matterhorn Screamer and Logical Island of the Zoombinis and the Animaniacs’ Variety Pack. I got really good at Smoocher and Barney’s Balloon Bop from the Animaniac’s Variety Pack while I was in college. We had Myst, too, but I never played much of it.

If you could have one day to do anything in, what would you do?
In the morning, I’d like to take a riding lesson and then go for a trail ride. I took English riding lessons for about a year and a half during graduate school. That was over a decade ago, though, so I’d have to start back at the beginning. After a picnic lunch and a siesta, it would be pleasant to go canoeing on a lake in the mid/late afternoon. Then I guess I’d want to go out to dinner at a moderately nice restaurant, maybe the sort that has a dance floor and a live swing band. To finish the day off, ice cream sundaes at a local business ice cream shop that makes their own stuff. But I don’t want to do those things by myself, or even just me and BTH. I’d want to do all that stuff with my whole immediate family. That would end up being a pretty expensive family reunion — but if I can really do anything, I have the funds for whatever I want to do, right?

What’s your favourite food?
Bread. Seriously. I mean, I thought about saying “chocolate, 60 – 70% cacao”, because I do love the stuff… but that’s so trite and boring. Give me some good bread and some butter to put on it — yum! As long as it’s quality stuff, I love all kinds of bread. There’s this faculty development lunch meeting once a week that’s catered by campus food services; one of the types of rolls they make are so good that when those rolls are on the menu, I might eat four rolls and skip dessert. I like to bake bread, too, but I don’t do that nearly often enough.

Where do you prefer to go, Mountains or Beach?
I’d rather go up in the mountains. The beach can be lovely, but I dislike how sand gets everywhere. I’m terribly out of shape and I huff and puff and my legs and feet get tired and I whinge and moan about those things when I’m hiking — but it’s worth it to see the rocks and the streams and the trees & other vegetation and to hear the birds singing and to get up to an overlook and see a magnificent view.

DeezWurds (Marathal, I think?) asks:

In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, are you prepared?
Nope. When the Rash illness comes, hopefully I’ll be one of the ones who just dies quickly and stays properly dead…

Have you ever had someone you never would have thought would ever read you blog, mention something you wrote?
I was really tickled when Alternative Chat once metioned something that I’d written.

Of course I have to ask. Alliance or Horde, but also, One Main? or Army of Alts.
Horde; Army of Alts. Did you really have to ask that about me? 😛

Have you ever had the opportunity to attend Blizzcon, or some other large gaming convention.
No. I’ve been to a couple of American Chemical Society national meetings and to an Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference, though. I should probably try to get to another ACS national meeting one of these years, or maybe the next Biannual Conference on Chemical Education.

Do you think Warcraft will ever end, and how do you see them ending it.
I kind of hope that Warcraft won’t go on “forever”. I know that I start to get tired of a book series when it gets longer than about seven or eight books; I stop keeping up with it, and when, a few years later, I see the books that were the newest ones at about the time I stopped actively following the series at the library, I can’t muster up enough interest to pick them up and read them. Ideally, I’d like to have WoW have the last patch of its last expansion at about the same time that my own interest in the game completely wanes, so that later on, I don’t find myself wondering if I want to get back into the game and trying to catch up on everything that I’ve missed.
I’m honestly wondering where WoW will go from Legion, however. If we’re actually going to go to Argus and take on Sargeras in 7.3, what could top that? I guess Sargeras could run away and we’d have to chase him down for the next expansion. But after that, what? If the plot takes a sudden dramatic turn from everything we’ve done so far, then I couldn’t say what that might be or how it might ultimately end — though I am a fan of Rossi & Stickney’s predictions that killing Sargeras will result in a “good job breaking it, hero” moment, after which we’ll have to spend the next few expansions taking care of the Old Gods for reals.
It would be nice to see how various dangling plotlines resolve and clean up and settle down on Azeroth. Although those kinds of stories might not make for very exciting questing, I think it would be a nice “closing the game” touch to have the last patch ever be “clean up/resolution” type quests that actually phase the world to leave Azeroth in a more comfortable and hopeful state before the final log-off… Things like seeing a partial restoration of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, taking all those places where the player’s actions are supposed to have saved a town and actually having the town be saved (instead of continually under attack so that the players who are still leveling have things to do), and so forth.

What in all the years you have played games, has been your favorite to play.
My favorite game ever? Oh, my, how am I supposed to choose?
My favorite outdoor game is croquet.
My favorite card game is SET; I also enjoy Dominion even though I’m really bad at it.
My favorite board game is Catan — the recent Explorers & Pirates expansion is especially fun to play; I also like Ticket to Ride a lot.
My favorite computer game is probably WoW, though the ones I mentioned above in my answer to Z are also games I really enjoyed during the periods of my life when I was playing them.

And a final one. Should Tauren be allowed to play Rogues? 😛
Well… yes and no. Not so long ago, I would have definitely said Yes. I think there’s plenty of lore precedents for Tauren Rogues of the Outlaw/Pirate variety. It would be fun to play a Tauren Outlaw Rogue. There’s not so much lore precedent for the Subtlety or Assassination varieties, though. I think I’d have the same sort of cognitive dissonance over the idea of a Tauren Subtlety or Assassination Rogue as I do with Tauren Shadow Priests. Tauren also have a rather boring Stealth pose and animations. If Tauren Rogues became a real thing, I’d feel obligated to roll and level one… but I am really happy with my current Blood Elf Rogue, and I think I’d want to keep her as my “main” Rogue.

RepGrind asks:

Do you have a favorite mount or type of mount? (horses, dragons, mechs, etc)
All of my major characters have unique mount macros for their specific mount preferences. Actually, they all have at least two mount macros — one for ground mounts and one for flying mounts. Some of them have more than that to sort different types of ground mounts or flying mounts. Kamalia has four mount macros: one for kodos, one for other ground mounts that I like that have a smaller profile than kodos, one for dragons, and one for smaller flying mounts.

Do your characters have individual personalities?
I would like them to, but I feel like the ways in which I have outlined differences in their personalities to myself are not very well developed — that I use those personality traits in a cardboard/type-casting/one-note kind of way. I don’t think I do very well at making their personalities truly individual when I write stories.

Transmog, yay or nay?
Yay Yay Yay!
Although I was into in-game fashion before Transmogrification, the feature took over my game goals — since Transmogrification debuted, I’ve only really cared about the looks of gear. I choose what content to do and what gear to try hard to obtain based on what it looks like, rather than what its stats are.

Do you have pets?
I’m so glad you asked! Here, have some pictures of my adorable cat being derpy.

What is more important to you, a good storyline or plenty of endgame activities?
A good storyline, because I’m going to be playing through it with a lot of characters. It’s a close call, though, because I also want a variety and abundance of endgame activities — preferably ones that continue to engage with the storyline — so that my lots of characters have a good range of choices of things to do at max level.

How did you get started in blogging?
I got into blogging originally because I wanted to write my thoughts about and post my drawings inspired by the Harry Potter books. I started blogging about WoW when I wanted to participate in conversations about and share my creative projects inspired by the game. Blogging provided an outlet to talk about and document my involvement with these fandoms in more detail than my parents and siblings care about knowing.

What kind of car do you drive?
My car is a 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer that I paid $4800 cash for in 2012. When I need a “new” car, I look for something 5 – 7 years old that I can get for about $5000 and is still in decent condition. And then I drive it until it is really truly dead — needs repairs that would cost more than the worth of the vehicle — before I replace it.

Most of the folks I would think about tagging have already been tagged by someone else, so I’m only going to tag three: Gnomecore, Syrco Owl, and Awaiting the Muse.

Tell me, tell me, would you please? —

* What locations in WoW have the best background music?

* Are there any ways in which WoW (or other games) has influenced or inspired things you do in your pay-the-bills career?

* Which calculator format do you prefer — TI (enter numbers and operations as you would write them on paper) or HP (reverse Polish)?

* What was the most memorable book that you read/movie that you watched last year? What made it so memorable?

* If you could take six months off from your current job and go back to college for a semester and study anything you wanted, what class(es) would you take?

* Give me a recipe for something that you like to make for dinner when you don’t have much time or energy for cooking.

* My current favorite chocolate bar is Chocolove’s “Holiday” bar, which is 55% cacao chocolate with pecans, currants, dried cherries, walnuts, hazelnuts, candied orange peel, and candied ginger — every square is a different delight! What’s your favorite sweet treat of the moment?

If I didn’t tag you but you still fancy answering any or all of these questions, please feel free to do so in the comments!

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During the second half of December, when we were trying to be prepared for the possibility that baby might come early, I hustled to get all my alts through getting their first Artifact weapon.

Now that baby is definitely late*, I’m hustling to get all my alts through getting the rest of their Artifact weapons.

My Warrior was Fury during Mists and Warlords because of Titan’s Grip, and I was comfortable with the spec. Then, on Mr Rossi’s advice, I chose to go Arms first for Legion. Now that I’ve gotten comfortable with Arms, switching back to Fury was an adjustment and I didn’t feel like I quite managed to get the hang of it during the course of the Fury Artifact questline. I felt very squishy.

It was quite surprising when I ended up in the Helmouth Shallows for the Survival Hunter questline, but it wasn’t surprising at all that I had to go there for the Fury Warrior… where else would you go to steal weapons back from Helya?

The Protection questline took me, as expected, back to Shield’s Rest island, to the only unexplored wing of the tomb complex where the Protection Paladin and Beastmaster Hunter had also gone. The text in the Paladin quest said that a Warrior had already been there; when I got there with my Warrior, the runes on the Paladin door were active and glowing. When I got there with my Hunter, the runes on the Paladin door weren’t active. From this, I surmise that the canonical order of the plundering of the Tomb of the Old Kings was Warrior, Paladin, Hunter.

I’ve only played Prot with a Warrior at low levels before, so there was a bit of a learning curve to it, especially figuring out what my active mitigation abilities were and how to use them appropriately. Nonetheless, it was rather fun, and it felt different from the Prot Paladin fight in ways that felt appropriate for being a Warrior. I still think I’ll run Halls of Valor to get the Aegis of Aggramar as Arms DPS, though 😛

Now that Warrior is done, I just have Paladin left. I get the day off tomorrow, so I’ll be burning through those last two** Artifact questlines tomorrow morning***.

* Even if the due date we were originally given had been a week off, he’s half a week overdue by now… the pins-and-needles are intense, and I’ve been bobbing in and out of being a nervous wreck all week.

** Getting the other two Paladin weapons will formally complete the set of serious Class-based Artifacts; I will still need to get the silly Underlight Angler for Kam and a duplicate Artifact (Aluneth) for my Alliance Mage.

*** We’re hoping and praying that our birth-mother will take our facilitator’s advice and go to the doctor to get induced tomorrow, and that we’ll be on our way to pick up baby by tomorrow evening.

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blog interruption imminent

After several years of infertility and a series of semi-successful medical treatments, including IVF — “semi-successful” in that the medications produced the desired effects, but I still didn’t get pregnant — we finally got our act together to submit adoption paperwork in late spring/early summer of last year. Early in autumn — a very short wait, from what I’ve heard of adoption processes — we were selected for placement.

Although having a baby will reshape our lives in ways that I’m sure I cannot even imagine right now, I’d still like to try to accomplish the following things during Legion:
in approximate order of priority
* Acquire all of the Artifacts, including the Fishing Pole
* Play the 7.0 Order Hall Campaign for each class
* Play the complete Suramar storyline (7.0 & 7.1) with Kaelinda (Horde Mage)
* Complete “This Side Up” with Kamalia so that everyone can get those Artifact appearances unlocked (so very very glad that the devs decided to make the Artifact appearance unlock account-wide!). I’ve skipped a few fortnights of Archaeology here and there, so it’ll be another couple of months before I can finish this.
* Craft the Tailoring and Blacksmithing armor sets, just once, to load them into my Appearances library
* Play the Light’s Heart/Xe’ra/History of Illidan storyline with Kiralaira (Demon Hunter), stopping at “get 80 oojimies from dungeons”

After I’ve completed the 7.0 & 7.1 content, if I manage to complete it, then I can think about playing the 7.2 Order Hall Campaigns and the solo challenges to unlock new Artifact appearances.

Everything else — filling out all the traits in all those Artifacts, getting Hidden Artifact appearances, farming dungeons and raids for Transmogrification shinies (as opposed to running them once or twice when the story content requires it), leveling all the other Professions — will be much lower priority. If those things never happen… *shrug* oh well.

The baby that we will be adopting is due any day now. So if I don’t make any new posts for weeks or months, well, that’s where I went.

This little WoW blog survived the major life change of beginning a full-time faculty position. I hope that it will survive the even greater major life change of becoming a parent.

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As a Thing To Do Together for his Christmas vacation days off from work on Friday and today, BTH carried me through the Return to Karazhan. On Friday, he ran me through the Mythics at the beginning of the attunement quest chain, and this evening he ran me through Mythic Karazhan itself.

We wiped at least once on every boss, but it wasn’t always due to my inexperience or just-barely-good-enough gear (I’m currently at 850-something). We wiped and wiped and wiped on Shade of Medivh because we had a DPS who couldn’t stand still when Flame Wreath was cast… eventually BTH kicked him. We wiped quite a few times on the final boss, too, because I am a total klutz with fights that have crazy movement requirements.

But eventually we succeeded — hurrah!

The first half of Mythic Karazhan is familiar enough to be comforting and different enough to be interesting. The second half of Mythic Karazhan, though — wow, that place is so trippy! The upside down parts, running on the ceiling… those twisty hallways… the distorted Gamesman’s Hall… I took a lot of screenshots, but not a lot with my UI turned off, just sightseeing. I did go back in after we finished it, though, to get some pictures of this stunning new chamber in the Library:

~*~*~

I noticed this a few days ago — the Mage Order Hall has Winter Veil decorations!

After I noticed that, I quickly cycled through my other characters’ Order Halls to see if any of the others also had Winter Veil decorations. But no, none of them did — not even the Rogue place, which is also in Dalaran.

Clearly, the devs love Mages best 😉

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My First Day In Legion

Having decided at the eleventh hour that all of my active alts needed to have a Demon Commander’s Cloak, I was doing a Demon Invasion with my Paladin, collecting a few more Nethershards to buy one for her. At about 12:46 local time — my local time is one hour ahead of Irvine time — I suddenly noticed that the little mobs around the big demon I was fighting were giving +2XP when they died! And I had an XP bar back! Just like that, quietly and without fuss or fanfare, WoW ticked over into Legion.

My Paladin had already done the first part of the Dalaran-over-Karazhan questline. When I logged in with my last couple of alts who hadn’t, they got the quest pushed to them again. I imagine, therefore, that if I’d been playing with an alt who hadn’t done the Dalaran-over-Karazhan questline when Legion officially went live, I might have gotten the quest popping up in my face again right then wherever I was.

I didn’t go to Dalaran. I continued going through my alts and doing some bag cleanup and pulling them back to Frostwall to wait until their turn to go to the Broken Isles.

And when I was done with that, I went to bed.

I had been considering wearing my Dalaran University T-shirt to school today, but I decided that even with a coordinating cardigan, it wasn’t quite professional enough. I wore black trousers and a light green shirt instead. Somewhat surprisingly, I wasn’t nearly as distracted at school today, wishing that I was at home playing WoW, as I had thought I might be. My classes went well, and I managed to get a more or less usual amount of prep-work-for-tomorrow done in between them, too.

BTH did decide to come back to WoW for Legion, at least for the leveling and early dungeon-running part of the game, so while he marvelled over all the the things that had changed and got his action bars set up and did the Broken Shore scenario, I dinked around with alts doing dailies in legacy content. Then I realized that if he was going to be a Bear, I needed to get my Resto spec sorted out…

Finally we were ready. We watched Dalaran get BLINKED. We began our Artifact scenarios — and then the doorbell rang, and it was my brother. We knew he was coming to visit us this week, but we weren’t expecting him until tomorrow.

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