Aesa and Fex

With Samson no longer with us we need to pay attention to Aesa.  We rescued Samson and her together.  He was the one constant in her life up until now.  Ferrets do grieve, especially for a ferret to whom they have bonded. They can become listless and refuse to eat.  Sometimes to the point of putting their own health at risk.  Because of this many ferret owners advise prospective ferret owners to not get just one, but get two, sometimes three.  This is why we originally decided to get another pair of ferrets.  We loved Fex but he was alone in his cage.  The cat and dog did not want to interact with him.  So we rescued Samson and Aesa so he would have fellow ferrets with whom to play.

Now it goes the other way.  We’ve been watching Aesa to make sure she comes out of her barrel, that she eats and drinks and doesn’t get into too deep a funk.  But the best thing for her would be to stick with Fex.  So this morning when she climbed into the hammock with Fex I had to snap a picture for my wife.  He’s crawled into her barrel with her a few times, too.  But it’s good to see her out and about, spending some time with Fex.

Aesa and Fex snuggling in the hammock

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Samson – 2006 to May 18th, 2011

5 years ago my wife and I became ferret owners.  Our first was a kit bought from Petco.  Later on we rescued two ferrets, Samson and Aesa.  Samson was the eldest of our three ferrets.  When we rescued him our vet estimated his age as 2 or 3 years.  So this year he was 7 or 8.  Tonight Samson is no longer with us.  My wife came upstairs to give Aesa and Fex there medication.  Samson came out of the cage, went near my desk and started to make odd noises.  She called me upstairs but there was nothing we could do but hold him as he passed.

He was our ferret ambassador.  The sweetest, most loving of our ferrets.  He loved to snuggle with anyone who would pick him up.  If we knew someone had never been around ferrets before we always let them hold Samson.  He melted hearts.  He certainly stole ours.

A few years ago we had a close call with him.  He had ingested some hard plastic and wasn’t able to pass it.  As a result he had to have surgery.  He made it through ok but it was the first time I had to face the real possibility of one of my ferrets dying.  At the time I wrote, ” I know he won’t be with us much longer, a year or two at the most.  But I want those years with him.  I’m not ready to let him go just yet.  Heck, I dunno if I’ll ever be ready to let any of our ferrets go.”  We had almost two more years with him.  For that I am immensely grateful.  I wanted those years with him in my life.  I was right, I wasn’t ready to let him go.  I’m still not.  But it isn’t up to me.

Samson Sleeping

More Rift Thoughts

A month ago I decided to give Rift retail a try.  My main, Athnamas the mage, is closing in on 50.  In fact she is 2 bars from 49 as of this writing.  I think at this point I have given Rift a fair shake.  So lately things have been bothering me.  Something just below the surface of Rift.  I mean the game plays well and some of the visuals are stunning.  But I think Trion missed the mark because they are missing the details.  Here are a few examples of what I mean.

The landscapes can be visually pleasing when viewed from a distance.  But up close they are lackluster.  The ground detail is lacking.  Large swaths of area just there.  Sure, Freemarch seems to have a good bit of ground clutter but some areas of Stillmoor are little more than bland textures on the landscape.

This lack of detail also shows in quests.  The grouping is nice.  Even though the quest log only holds 25 I’ve never really felt limited because the quests are handed out, 3-5 at a time, from one quest hub and generally to one area.  But they are bland variations of kill x of y.  The epitome of this inattention to detail in quests came from one quest late in Stillmoor where you’re supposed to face off against your darker side.  In fact there’s an achievement for it, “Mirror, Mirror”.  What I had expected was to face off against a mob which appeared in similar gear as my toon.  What I got was a mob which amounts to little more than a floating black blob.  One that has been used in the past several zones!

The armor progression through the levels is lacking.  In outfitting, one of the few professions I have taken, the difference between one set of armor and the next is often a slight different in color.  In fact some of the highest level greens (46-48) share the same art with the 2nd level of greens!  Trion added in a wardrobe tab with 4 different slots.  There’s little need as I doubt most people would get past one look that strikes them.  No doubt it is repeated several times.

Even the UI is not without its problems.  Powers can be cast on Target’s Target, macros cannot.  So what is a perfectly viable way of controlling the plethora of powers in single player becomes a bother in groups.

Finally, the combat seems bland.  My character feels overpowered, immensely so.  I have to really be asleep at the keyboard to get killed by anything short of an elite.  Meanwhile the dungeons I have been in thus far have proven to be of the horrible schlock Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King foisted upon us.  IE, tank holds all mobs everyone AoEs, rinse, repeat.  When I am DPSing in a dungeon I literally have 2 powers I cast out of the ~20 I have on my bars.  An insta-cast, non-channeled AoE followed by a channeled AoE.

Several months ago I posted my thoughts from Beta.  They boiled down to Souls giving out too many powers with too much duplication and that rifts would soon become a chore.  Do I still think that after a month of solid play?  Somewhat and definitely.

As I later wrote I think Rift’s souls are supposed to give you a superset of powers from which you carve out your own style of effects and sequences as expressed by power choice and macros.  I like that Trion is willing to tweak the nose of the holy trinity.  Rogue tanks, mage healers?  Yup, completed a dungeon with just that combination.  I think it could use some serious refinement both in UI elements if not the base system itself.

Rifts, however, became just what I thought they would.  Chores.  This is especially true with precursor of the second live event.  One of the dailies we get requires 40 of a particular item.  Those items can only drop from rifts and footholds of the appropriate type.  Closing a minor rift taken through all stages yields 4 of that item.  Closing a minor rift without extra stages yields 2.  So, as a mainly solo player right now, to get 40 I have to close 20 rifts solo.  It wouldn’t be so bad except that rifts, once you’ve seen about 10 of them, really have nothing new to offer.  They are hardly as dynamic as they are billed to be.  They are just another type of spawn.  That’s it.  They pretty much all boil down to “kill x of y” 6 times with, oh, 4 of those on a timer.

Granted, most dailies can become chore-like over time.  But Trion is doubling down on the Rift mechanic.  With the 1.3 update we now get new crafting dailies which, dundundunnnnnn, we have to open special rifts and then close them!  We get a new mechanic which lets us see alternate timelines which, dundundunnnnnnn, are rifts!  Sitting on the cusp of the solo end game all I see are rifts in my future and it is depressing.

Thoughts on Home Owner Associations

Another Reddit reply, this time to the question about what the Libertarian take was on HOAs.

The Libertarian position? Best to review some of the major players to see what they have written on the topic. Here we can pretty much offer up what some libertarians feel.

Personally, I have a neutral/hate relationship with them. Having recently purchased a house (my first) virtually all the properties my wife and I reviewed were associated with some sort of HoA. I’d say of the 30 or so homes we reviewed maybe 2 weren’t in HoAs. So the notion that one can opt out of an HoA by not buying into a neighborhood in an HoA is a tad iffy. Their ubiquity is startling.

The concept is ok, but in my experience the execution is horrible. HoAs today amount to little more than mandates for homogeneity in aesthetics often at the expense in progress in other areas. For example where I live has no lack of sunshine (Vegas). I’d love to look in to practical options for solar power. However any decision I make has to be approved by the HoA. The criterion? How much the proposed solution impacts the profile of my house.

I put up with it because, really, the house was a steal in this market and the chances of me getting into a neighborhood without an HoA are pretty much nil.

Addressing the second point I think there is a matter of scale. One of the problems with HoAs is that it takes time to investigate what, exactly, each HoA’s terms are prior to purchasing the home. On top of that the pace of real estate purchases means taking the time for a thorough review of HoA policies could mean missing the sale on the house. As such I am willing to wager that most people purchase the house first, then familiarize themselves with the rules and regs of the local HoA.

While there is an argument for local control I think HoAs are too local, the granularity too narrow. Especially since there is no clear marking of where any individual HoA’s jurisdiction begins and ends. What I mean by this is that when I was looking for a house to buy I could make a reasonable choice on local policies based on established and recognized geographical boundaries. If I have a problem with Las Vegas I could move to Henderson, Summerlin or N. Las Vegas and know exactly where one ends and the other begins. Similarly if I’m upset with county policies I can leave Clark county. State policies, leave Nevada. Each has clear lines marking where their policies end.

HoAs have no such clear indication. So while it may be easier to switch HoAs by moving the next subdivision over it is not as clearcut what HoA is control of which properties and what their policies are. You’ll often not know until you get there. Note, I am well aware of some exceptions, like the above mentioned Summerlin. But they are just that, exceptions.

Finally I think the policies that the local government concerns itself over and what HoAs concern themselves over differ radically. Or rather, the perception of such does. If the city of Las Vegas were to concern itself over the aesthetics of individual rooflines many people would object to the overbearing nature of government. Yet the same happens in HoAs all the time, in an unrepresentative structure, and it somehow becomes viable.

IE, my impression and feelings are that there’s something amiss with HoAs. I cannot clearly define it, but much like porn, I know it when I see it. I just don’t enjoy it nearly as much.

An Atheist For School Vouchers

This is a recent post to Reddit which sums up exactly why, as an atheist, I am not opposed to school vouchers on constitutional grounds.  Definitely my most refined thought on the topic to date so saving it here for future reference.  The quoted material is from the user sansimone.  S/He is reply to my example where a senior receiving social security tithes some of that money to a church.

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My Man Card, Torn Asunder

I have been teasing my wife, mildly, about her penchant for watching home improvement shows.  Personally I don’t like them, save for one.  Almost every one will have some project which squeaks in under budget and looks amazing.  The implication being that the viewer can do it, too.  Except for the fact that the show comes with several extremely talented designers and a cadre of experienced helpers.  Those generally don’t come included on most DIY home improvement projects.

So tonight imagine my shock as I came to a realization.  I started watching Coe’s Quest several months ago.  Back when he had at most 10-15 episodes.  He’s now closing in on episode 150.  So, yeah, about 50 hours of watching some dude play Minecraft.  Sure there’s some exploration, dungeon crawling and such.  However, the vast majority of the time he’s building things.

I am watching the gamer equivalent of the home improvement show.  Crap, can’t give my wife guff any more.

For the record, the one home improvement show I do have respect for, Holmes on Homes.  He’s the only show which basically says, “Get a professional to do it right the first time.”