Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category

After school was over for the year, BTH took a week of vacation and we went to see some national parks that are within reasonable driving distance from home, considering our small children. We checked out a suitable number of volumes of the How to Train Your Dragon series on audiobook CDs to listen to during the drivetime; of our local public library’s selection of audiobooks for kids, these were the books I thought would be most enjoyed by both the kids — our five year-old loved them! — and the parents.
The Barrens:

Thousand Needles:

Stonetalon Mountains:

I didn’t get any pictures of the grasslands on the interior of the top of the plateau, as I would have had to take them out the window of the moving car, but they put me in mind of Mulgore.

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WordPress reminded me that today, March 9, is my blogiversary — my 12th one, in fact.

Red and I were having a little conversation about cosplay. I mentioned that I sew, and though I don’t do anything complex or demanding, I did make my own Senior Prom and Wedding dresses. I used simple patterns and let the materials make them fancy. Red wanted to see them, and I thought they’d make a good Special Milestone blogiversary post, so here they are.

Senior Prom, 25 years ago

Renaissance Faire dress, 15 years ago
this picture is from the weekend BTH and I got engaged

Test run of the wedding dress pattern, 15 years ago

Wedding dress, 15 years ago

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My husband came down with Covid a week before Christmas, so we were in quarantine for the holidays. I’ve had all three of my shots and my husband has had one, so our symptoms were relatively mild. My husband was achy and spent as much time sleeping as he could. I had a persistently scratchy throat, slightly achy lungs, and a noticeable decrease of stamina for reading stories or singing bedtime songs to the children. The kids had sniffles and some coughing, but otherwise seemed to be fine — no fevers, and completely normal behavior. We think the cat might have gotten it, too, because he was lethargic and sneezing for a few days.

My husband has long been a fan of the Wheel of Time series. Not having gotten into that series myself while I was a teenager/young adult, I used to say, somewhat flippantly, that maybe I’d read them while I was breastfeeding, if I ever had a biological child. Somehow, that didn’t happen this summer and fall. During the past couple of weeks, my husband watched the Wheel of Time TV series on Amazon Prime, and I got sucked into watching the last couple of episodes over his shoulder. He described the earlier episodes as being more like Peter Jackson’s treatment of Lord of the Rings… and the later episodes as being more like Peter Jackson’s treatment of The Hobbit. Naturally, then I had to find out for myself just how different the TV show was from the books. I read New Spring and Eye of the World with the baby either nursing or just sitting on my lap, while the older kids played with their Christmas toys or on the computer (they loved the Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar that my Mom always gets for me). I found myself sufficiently interested by enough of the characters that I might have continued on to The Great Hunt — except that by then I’d received a book I was much more interested in, Rhythm of War, as a birthday present from my husband. I am currently about a third of the way through that tome. Speaking of Brandon Sanderson books, before reading the Wheel of Time books, I read Cytonic, which I gave to my husband for his birthday a month ago, after he finally finished reading it.


In Azeroth, Kateleina and Kaelyra have reached Renown 79 with the Necrolords and the Kyrian, respectively. They’ve also gotten their Covenant Sanctums as fully upgraded as I intend to do. So I guess it’s time to go do the 9.0 Campaigns for those Covenants. Then I suppose it will be back to their home Covenants and off to Korthia — and flying! — at last.

After getting all four Covenant Sanctums upgraded to level 3 Travel Network and level 2 Anima Conductor with the Treasure Box and World Quest reinforced, here is my personal ranking of the Travel Networks. The Kyrian Travel Network is the most useful because it is a true network, because it has points right on top of the Anima Conductor features, and because it has other points that are very conveniently located for other Bastion World Quests that I like to do. The Night Fae Travel Network is the next most useful; it has a point close to the Treasure Box and points close to some of the Ardenweald World Quests that I like to do — but for the Anima Conductor World Quest, as well as other Ardenweald World Quests that I like, there are conventional flight points that I find more convenient to use. The Night Fae Travel Network also has associated with it the Marasmius dailies, which give Night Fae characters an advantage for quickly collecting Anima. The Venthyr Travel Network I found to be much less useful. The Anima Conductor features are more easily accessed from conventional flight points. I only ever used two Venthyr Travel Network points — the Eternal Terrace mirror when “Secret Service” was up and the Feeder’s Thicket mirror when “Parasol Peril” was up. And the Necrolords Travel Network? Completely useless for getting to the stuff in Maldraxxus that I like or at least am willing to do.

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gratuitous art post: diversity circle

I drew this many years ago — it’s not dated, but it was probably around a decade ago — just to play with the various skin tone-like colors available in Crayola’s marker line at the time. There was a box of 8 beige to bronze to umber shades called, I believe, the “Multicultural” set, which I supplemented with peach and 3 other browns from other sets. After the events of summer 2020, just before the 2020-2021 academic year began, I pulled it out of the art binder I’d had it stored in and stuck it up in my office window as a sort of subtle “diversity welcome here” statement.

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It is said that to not speak up in support of the oppressed is to tacitly assent to the oppression, so I suppose I had ought to say something about the recent news concerning Blizzard’s corporate culture and the experience of working for Blizzard. I didn’t read the lawsuit itself, but I’ve read most of the coverage from Wowhead and Blizzard Watch, the article about it in the New York Times, and various thoughtful posts by the small list of active bloggers I currently read. Like others, I am saddened and sickened, disgusted and disappointed that such acutely and chronically distressing things have happened at Blizzard — somehow I’d hoped that Blizzard would be better than that. I thought for a bit on whether I should cancel my sub, and stop playing World of Warcraft for awhile — I do have other games to play now, Horizon Zero Dawn where I still haven’t made it out of the starting area, and Bloons Monkey City which is mostly for my kids but in which I could get more involved if I wanted, and it might be fun to run through Portal again and see if I can get past that one level where I stalled out a decade ago… I decided to keep playing; I agree with the sentiments expressed by Gnomecore and Wrath of Kubla Khan about the value of continuing to support the “normal people” at the company — the 2500+ employees who signed on to the open letter rebuking their company leadership, the artists and animators and code writers, etc, who actually do the nitty gritty nuts and bolts work of making the game that I enjoy. Besides, at this time of year I always have to make myself take a break from playing WoW while I’m scrambling to get my courses prepared for the impending doom of the beginning of Fall semester, now only a month away. So for me to say that I was taking a break for ethical protest reasons seems like it would be kind of disingenuous.

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Back at the beginning of November, I wrote:
“I’ve fallen into a WoW lull over the past several weeks. I’ve got an unusually light course load at school this semester — but a health condition that has developed, and a medication that I’m taking to help with this condition, have made it so that I just can’t stay up late like I used to. When I’m finished with my evening slate of schoolwork, I more and more frequently just go to bed. If the Emissary reward isn’t 2K gold, or I’m not working on outfits for the next Sunday Mog Show, I don’t have much motivation to stay up late in Azeroth.”
I only had to take the medication that made me extra-sleepy for ten weeks; soon enough I was again staying up until midnight or 1 am in Azeroth after completing my evening schoolwork. The health condition, however, persisted — which was the desired and intended result of the medication — and this past Friday night it resolved with the exquisitely intense experience of the birth of my first, and perhaps only, biological child.

I am the oldest of six children. As far as I know, my mother had all of those children more or less when she wanted to have them. Thus, infertility was not a life-challenge that I expected to have. But a few years went by after BTH and I got married, and I still hadn’t gotten pregnant. About the fifth year of our marriage, I was diagnosed with anovulatory polycystic ovarian syndrome. We attempted a few less-invasive reproductive medicine therapies — this drawing was made as a response to the failure of one of those attempts — before trying in-vitro fertilization in the eighth year of our marriage. It failed; none of our embryos survived the transfer process. After that, we decided to pursue adoption. We adopted our first child shortly before our tenth anniversary; he is now four. We adopted our second child shortly before our twelfth anniversary; he is now two. I was now in my late thirties, and success rates for IVF drop off rapidly with maternal age especially after forty, so we decided to make one more attempt at IVF. Because I’d experienced some complications and needed to have the embryos frozen for later transfer during our first IVF attempt, we planned ahead to initially freeze the embryos and transfer later for the second attempt. Then COVID came along and significantly delayed the timing of the transfers; we weren’t able to start trying transfers until the middle of last summer. The very last embryo from that second IVF cycle was the one that survived the transfer process and became the perfect, beautiful baby boy who is sleeping in his bassinet while I write this post.

Naturally, I haven’t logged on to WoW for a few days now, and while I’ve certainly thought a bit about it here and there, I haven’t really missed it. I’ve been much too busy with much more important things. Although I’ve “done newborn” before with my two adopted children, this time around is a whole new experience because this time, I’m doing it with breastfeeding and postpartum body and brain — and with two other young children whose needs for affection and attention also have to be managed and fulfilled. As Baby and I adjust to each other, as the two older children get adjusted to the new state of our household, I’ll have more ability to come back to Azeroth — and, to be honest, I’ll want to come back to Azeroth as a stress relief/relaxation activity! But I also still have a mountain of prep to do to get my classes ready for Fall Semester. So I’ll have to severely limit my time in Azeroth, and I cannot do “all the things” that I’d been doing anymore. I’ll have to select one or two objectives to accomplish with one character in each play session and just be okay with letting the others not progress.

I will probably log on for a little bit tomorrow, though, even if it’s just long enough to find out if Kaelinda finally managed to get the Robes of the Cursed Commando from the Great Vault from doing LFR last Wednesday, but I probably won’t do much else — certainly not running the Maw with three level 60 characters!

Baby is still asleep! If I go straight to bed as soon as I hit “Publish”, how much sleep will I manage to get before he wakes up hungry…?

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I first heard the word “sklonklish” in a movie starring teenage Shirley Temple that my family watched when my sisters and I were teenagers. It became part of my family’s lexicon immediately because it perfectly describes that feeling of being vaguely irritated and out-of-sorts with the world. It’s sort of like ennui, only with a bit more of a disgruntled edge.


Kaelinda and Kaurinka have each finally finished reinforcing the fourth stream for their Anima Conductor; since I don’t intend to upgrade the Anima Conductor to stage 3, I am now Done with it, which is something of a relief. With my remaining three characters, I’m thinking that I’ll just do stage 1 of the Anima Conductor and just reinforce the stream to the Treasure, since that’s the activity that I have done the most consistently with the first two.
The Travel Network is likely to be the only Sanctum feature that all five characters will fully upgrade.

Kaelinda reached Exalted with Bastion last week. She kept grinding away at Maldraxxus, trying to do one or two WQs in Maldraxxus each day. This week’s WQ rep buff, plus a string of Maldraxxus Callings, allowed me to finally finish that off, too. Phew! I intensely dislike Maldraxxus as an environment, so now I can mostly ignore Maldraxxus with everyone except Kalaneia (my designated Necrolords character)*.

I have also been actively farming Anima with Kaelinda. I don’t try to clear the map of Anima-rewarding WQs, but I’ll often do as many of the available ones as I find tolerable to do. She has gotten both of the Venthyr Renown backpieces and has been spending Anima as fast as she gets enough of it on acquiring the rest of the Renown recolor of the Venthyr Covenant armor set, after which she will be Done with Covenant collectibles (at least until Patch 9.1). She needs 11000 more Anima to accomplish this goal.

I’ve been pushing hard to finish these reputation and collection goals because I’m wanting to just be Done with Kaelinda — to be able to put her/the Venthyr on the bench for awhile** and move on to the campaigns of the other three Covenants. I intend to do Night Fae first, then Kyrian, then Necrolords.

Since the news from the Patch 9.1 PTR is that the Korthia extension of the Covenant campaigns brings them all together right from the beginning, making them all essentially the same except with variations in the window dressing, I’m thinking that I want to get all of the 9.0 Covenant campaigns completed before I jump into the new Patch 9.1 content — even if that means that Patch 9.1 will have been out for quite some time before I finally get there.

Anyhow, the result of pushing rep and Anima with Kaelinda so hard recently is that I am feeling a bit burned out and can barely bring myself to do much of anything with Kaurinka (even though there is a lot more Night Fae stuff that I want than Venthyr stuff). As I’ve mentioned before, though, part of that feeling of burnout is spillover from RL right now. It’s the penultimate week of the semester, and I am feeling greater than usual end-of-semester weariness.


* Well, Keliora has to complete the House of Constructs storyline in Maldraxxus before she turns on Threads of Fate because saving Kyrians. But after that, Kalaneia will be the only person who has to be in Maldraxxus.

** I do want to play the Ember Court (and the Queen’s Conservatory) before Shadowlands ends, though. I’ve learned that if I don’t do an activity while the expansion it debuted in is current, I’m not going to come back to do it later (e.g., Deaths of Chromie). I can worry about gathering Anima for those upgrades, however, when I’m ready to actually do that content.

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nonsense and nonesuch

As usual, Wowhead’s April Fool mockups are much more entertaining (to me) than Blizzard’s own mock patch notes. The great thing about Wowhead’s stuff is that it always looks so plausible, even the parts of it that are deliberately silly (like the Pepe battles in this year’s edition).

Kaelinda and Kaurinka have now gotten the second stage of the Anima Conductor and are plinking along at reinforcing the third and fourth Anima stream locations. Having another choice on the map for what to do to gather Anima or complete “do 3 World Quests” (when it’s in that Covenant’s zone) is nice, but I haven’t yet chosen to do the Anima Conductor World Quest over my tried-and-true favorites. The Anima Conductor dailies, well, they just seem very grindy — “go find/kill 15-30 of such-and-such creature” or “go clicky 7-12 of such-and-such environmental object” — and like they’d require running all over the zone to find enough things to reach completion. I’ll continue to plink Anima into them until both streams are reinforced, though, so that they’ll be available if I want to put more effort into actually doing them later.

A very large part of my lack of motivation to actually go do the Anima Conductor World and Daily Quests, however, is just my current RL circumstances. School has gotten very busy with various faculty responsibilities in addition to my usual teaching-related tasks. I still log on every day to pick up the Calling (whether or not I actually go out and do it), collect the Anima Conductor Treasure, and see if there are any 3-4×35 Anima token WQs up that I actually enjoy doing, but doing any more things…? Not right now. Maybe later.

Another time-consuming in-game activity that I’ve decided to put off until Later is the Ember Court and the Queen’s Conservatory. I’ll activate those and get them going after I’ve accomplished my primary expansion goal of playing through all four of the 9.0 Covenant storylines. I’ll at least activate and check out the Path of Ascension, though I’ve heard that it is kind of ridiculously challenging. I’m not at all interested in the Stitchyard, and don’t plan to activate it even just for the sake of having all of the Covenant Special Features activated.

So for now, after I’ve gotten the third and fourth locations for the Anima Conductor permanently reinforced, I think I’ll start picking up Covenant cosmetics — the 3500 Anima backpieces, to begin with, then the Renown recolor of the Covenant armor set.

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Kaelinda’s progress through the first chapter of the Venthyr Covenant campaign was slowed by searching out and doing a handful of side quests that she hadn’t discovered while leveling in Revendreth so as to finish up the Sojourner achievement for that zone. Eventually, I made my way through it and unlocked Threads of Fate for everyone else.

Except for Kaurinka, who was already most of the way through level 59 and chose Threads of Fate, they all chose to continue the story campaign. Kaurinka chose the Night Fae, then did “Aid Ardenweald” and part of “Aid Bastion” to get to level 60 and complete her initiation into the Night Fae. She has one more side quest left — the one that doesn’t unlock until a Covenant is chosen — to complete the Sojourner achievement for Ardenweald.

My opinion of Bastion and the Kyrian has gradually improved as I’ve visited the other zones. In Revendreth, too, the souls unburden themselves of the memories and experiences of their lives — though they do not completely forget who they were in life — and those who choose/are selected to become Venthyr take on new names and new forms, as the Kyrian do. I also understand now, which I didn’t quite at the beginning of my journey through the Shadowlands, that choosing a Covenant now doesn’t irrevokably bind my character’s soul to that realm & Covenant when she passes through the veil — the Arbiter (once we revive her, as I’m sure we’ll do by the end of the expansion) will still determine which realm is the most appropriate place for her. If I ever manage to get Kasheena up to level 50 and decide to bring her on to the Shadowlands, I’ll probably choose Kyrian with her. Having two Tauren Night Fae Druids would be rather redundant, don’t you think? I like the Kyrian leather set better than the Venthyr leather set, for a Tauren, at least (the Venthyr set would suit my Blood Elf Rogue or Demon Hunter quite nicely, though), and the Necrolords leather set is a flat NOPE.

In terms of progression through Covenant stories, I’m currently working on Venthyr, of course, and will probably continue to keep that Covenant in the lead. I’m next-most interested in Night Fae, then Kyrian, and Necrolords last. I am slow enough, and there is enough to do with each Covenant, that it might take me half of the expansion just to get through the 9.0 content! Looking at the sources for the four tints of the Covenant armor sets, it looks like I want to prioritize getting the Travel Network and the Special Feature up and running first, then the Anima Conductor to boost my Anima-gathering capability to supply the staggering amounts of Anima required to upgrade the other features and to purchase the various items of the armor sets. I might just ignore the Command Table/Adventures entirely, though.

Kaelinda is for the moment stalled out on the quest to go back into the Maw and ask Ve’nari for help getting into Torghast. I’ll likely do as little of both the Maw and Torghast as I can — basically just what the Covenant campaigns and Renown quests require of me. Other heroes of Azeroth can be the champion Maw Walkers, just as other heroes of Azeroth have been the ones to defeat the most challenging threats ever since we went to Draenor…


Meanwhile, Real Life is piling on distractions from Azeroth. I had an unusually light class schedule in Fall semester; for Spring, I have a much busier schedule of four lecture classes and two lab classes. Two of the lectures are the same course, but one section is MWFx50-mins and the other section is TThx75-mins, so they will require different preparation! I just had a birthday, and BTH gifted me Final Fantasy X and Horizon Zero Dawn on Steam. The last time I actively used Steam was while Portal 2 was the new hotness, so just getting my account reactivated is going to take some fuss and bother. BTH would like us to do parallel plays of FFX — we haven’t played a game together for a few years now — and I did enjoy watching him play HZD a couple of summers ago when a friend loaned BTH his PS4 while he was out of the country for the summer. Thus, my continuing progress through the Shadowlands is likely to be quite slow indeed.

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When I was in my late teens, I asked my maternal grandmother to teach me how to do her afghan crochet stitch. This is the first afghan I made, and I still have it:

In the succeeding two-plus decades, I’ve made dozens of afghans; this past weekend, I finished #42. Most of them have been approximately queen-sized and have been given to friends or relatives as wedding presents. Several have been crib-sized and have been given to friends or relatives as baby shower presents.

The Geek Afghans

#14 “Hydrogen”: This piece is based on the atomic emission spectrum of hydrogen. Each of the 100 rows represents 3 nm of the approximately 400 – 700 nm wavelength visible range of light, with 700 nm at the top and 400 nm at the bottom. The red, green, violet, and purple stripes are located at the correct locations for where those lines actually appear.

#31 “And There Was Life”: Each of the four grayscale and greenscale shades in this piece represents one of the four nucleotide bases. Every two rows is a nucleotide base; every six rows is a codon. The sequence, when translated into the one-letter codes for the amino acids, reads “AND THERE WAS LIFE” from top to bottom, with the “LIFE” section in green.

#39 “Pi”: This crib-sized afghan is based on the first digits of pi up to the sum of 100. Each digit from 1 – 9 is represented with a different color and the block of that color is that many rows wide. Single-crochet rows in black and white represent the decimal point and the digit 0, respectively.


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