Tuesday Tidbits: 2017 Gaming Edition

All right, it’s that time of year again! With the anniversary of the release date of The Elder Scrolls Online looming (4 April), I figured that a gaming post was long overdue. I’m only really playing this game at the moment, so these are the only gaming updates that I do. Sorry, nothing about Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, Fallout 4 or Overwatch, here!

ESO Live did their first broadcast of 2017 on Friday, 27 January, and today they had a special broadcast for an announcement that has been at work behind the scenes – it was hinted at during PAX West 2016, but I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised with the announcement!

First off, ESO will finally introduce in-game player housing, adding another layer to an already multi-layered, in-depth, and immersive game. I did some noodling on the Public Test Server (PTS) and like what I see so far! It will be very nice to have a private, secure area for guild-meetings, duels, crafting, or role-playing story arcs. The various homes available are nicely varied, with some located inside city walls, and others are out in the wilds, offering beautiful scenery to inspire you whilst decorating.

Friday’s broadcast showed off some of the buildings and decorations some people did; I have to say that I was impressed with the creativity and dedication on display! There were some great designs and layouts – click here if you’d like to take a look at the broadcast. I’ve met and spoken with four of the six people that you see; they were pretty cool and easy to talk to when we saw them at the gaming convention.
Last but not least, today’s announcement was about the very first expansion being added to ESO – not just a DLC, but a full expansion pack which introduces a much-loved land to the online multi-verse!

*insert annoying fangirl scream*

Here’s a little background: Skyrim, the game that I started playing The Elder Scrolls with, is officially titled The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I have played TES III: Morrowind and TES IV: Oblivion as well, and enjoy Morrowind almost as much as I do Skyrim. Well, in June of this year, Morrowind will be joining the world of ESO, adding an entirely new land to explore – but, a land that will be quite familiar to those of us who have played this series for a while!

A brand-new character class is being added with this expansion, along with new armour and weapons styles, mounts, pets, and emotes. Also, for the first time, the ability to own a pet that will actually fight at your side, not just run around in circles! The vanity pets are a lot of fun, but they don’t do anything that assists your character. Conjured familiars are only around if you conjure them, and are limited to three types – and, only sorcerers have the conjuring ability.

Anyway, the release date of the expansion is 6 June, mere months after the addition of player housing – that happens this coming Monday, the day after Super Bowl Sunday. I have to say that I’m happy for the extra things to explore and enjoy over the next few years! Gaming is one of my hobbies, and it keeps me occupied and entertained. Travelling anywhere outside of the U.S. might have to be put on the back burner for a while – hell, even travelling INSIDE the U.S. could be treacherous! I figure that I’ll explore the new lands that my game has to offer, and “travel” from the comfort of my home.

ESO Fan Fiction: Search For the Sky-Crystals – Part I

Here’s a bit of my fan-fiction, originally posted in 2015. Chronologically, it takes place after the events I’m writing about in my NaNoWriMo short-story.
😎

Eyrie Of An Aries

Tur’a wakes in the Warrior’s Rest Tavern, yawning and stretching in her bedroll. She has returned to Cyrodiil at the behest of her sister, who left a cryptic message before leaving to roam the desert sands with Dar. The message simply reads: “Remember the Chalamo.” Tur’a is still unfamiliar with the war-torn land, having only recently completing basic training there. She has used the siege machinery at the practice field, but that is a far cry from using them in the heat of battle. Rubbing her eyes, she sits up near the fire-pit. She is clad in a simple tunic and breeches; modesty and practicality dictate sleeping in light clothing, at the very least. She rummages through her bag for a quick meal – she has been cooking more and more for herself, finding hearty soups and stews more to her liking than the sugary-sweet fare her sister used to…

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Saturday Screen-Shots: 28 January 2017

Venus & Serena Williams

Here are a few of my in-game screen-shots from the past week. I also wanted to say congratulations to Serena Williams – winner of the Australian Open! Well done and kudos to her sister, Venus, as well…they are both admirable and inspiring!

😎

Looking through the “Bag of Holding”

Striking a pose

Nicely-designed tabards

Mounted up – the horses size to your character

Dancing a jig

A little Tai Chi

Shake that money-maker!

A drink at lakeside

Cheers!

Relaxing at the bath-house

Thursday Thoughts: The Marches

On Friday, 20 January, Orange Hitler the Drumpf was sworn in as the 45th president of these divided United States. On Saturday, 21 January, people all over this country – and in places all over the world – walked out of their doors and into the streets. They wanted to make their voices heard and their displeasure known.

If you believe the “alternative facts” reported by the talking plastic bobble-heads over at FauxNews, or the racist, misogynist crap spewed on Breitbart and other nazi sites, the marches were only done in “liberal cities on the coasts.” I found that laughable, especially when Samantha Bee quite handily disproved that lie on her show last night. I also found it laughable because of what I learned yesterday while I was out running errands, and getting my annual eye checkup done.

I used to live in Seattle. I lived there for a little over a decade, then moved to Portland, OR and lived there for five years. I eventually moved to Vancouver, WA, and lived there for three years before moving to my current residence on the southwest coast of Washington state, which isn’t far from the Oregon border. I live approximately 35 minutes away from the coastal town of Astoria, Oregon.

I mention this because I didn’t attend any marches on Saturday. If I still resided in Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver, you can bet that I would have. I would have made a massive sign, then consigned anyone that I knew who could knit or crochet to make me a “rasta-style” pussy-hat. I would then have gotten my happy ass to the nearest group and joined all of the other “nasty women” and the men who love us, and walked along in support and unity. Since I’m out here on the coast, away from the “liberal cities,” I figured that there was nothing close that I could get to. The weather, as well as the crappy traffic in those places, made it pretty much impossible to go. I contented myself with calling my state representatives and letting them know how I feel about upcoming votes that they will be casting over the next few months.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I saw the front cover of a local newspaper, the Chinook Observer. It showed a picture of people in Astoria, Oregon, marching on Saturday, sporting pussy-hats and carrying signs. Let me tell you: Astoria is not a city (population approx. 9,000). It is certainly not liberal (85% Republican), and it is far from diverse (main ethnic group: whites of Scandinavian descent). But on Saturday, there were at least 1,300 people marching in the cold and wet weather, showing support for all of the women who were marching in Washington, D.C. That made my heart and soul glow…even out here, in mostly-white, conservative communities, there are still people who aren’t happy with whom the electoral college selected to lead this country.

If I had known that a march was planned, I would have been there. Even though I’d stick out like a sore thumb, I would have been there and gladly linked arms with whomever wanted to. I’m sorry that I missed it…but, I’m glad that it happened. It gives me a bit of hope, and I feel just a tiny bit less alone out here. There are others who, at the very least, feel exactly the same way that I do. We’re exercising our rights to free speech until the dictator-at-large silences us the same way he ordered the silence of people working for our national park service, and those at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We must speak out. We must protect the rights that WE ALL have, not curb and cut them, and give them to a select few.

You know the saying, “If you see something – say something!” Guess what? That’s exactly what’s happening. We see something – so, we’re saying something. We won’t shut up. In this brave new world, where lies are now being spouted and Tweeted on a daily basis, and “alternative facts” are hurled like simian fecal matter, speaking the truth and sticking to reality is more paramount than ever before. Nothing good has ever come from a “leader” acting in this fashion. We can’t go back to those times.

Notable Black Women: Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman: 26 January 1892 – 30 April 1926

Today, 26 January, marks the birthdate of Bessie Coleman; it is her 125th “birth anniversary.” She was the first woman of African-American and Native American descent to hold a pilot license and an international pilot license. From the American Experience PBS site:

Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot, grew up in a cruel world of poverty and discrimination. The year after her birth in Atlanta, Texas, an African American man was tortured and then burned to death in nearby Paris for allegedly raping a five-year-old girl. The incident was not unusual; lynchings were endemic throughout the South. African Americans were essentially barred from voting by literacy tests. They couldn’t ride in railway cars with white people, or use a wide range of public facilities set aside for whites. When young Bessie first went to school at the age of six, it was to a one-room wooden shack, a four-mile walk from her home. Often there wasn’t paper to write on or pencils to write with.

When Coleman turned 23 she headed to Chicago to live with two of her older brothers, hoping to make something of herself. But the Windy City offered little more to an African American woman than did Texas. When Coleman decided she wanted to learn to fly, the double stigma of her race and gender meant that she would have to travel to France to realize her dreams.

It was soldiers returning from World War I with wild tales of flying exploits who first interested Coleman in aviation. She was also spurred on by her brother, who taunted her with claims that French women were superior to African American women because they could fly. In fact, very few American women of any race had pilot’s licenses in 1918. Those who did were predominantly white and wealthy. Every flying school that Coleman approached refused to admit her because she was both black and a woman. On the advice of Robert Abbott, the owner of the “Chicago Defender” and one of the first African American millionaires, Coleman decided to learn to fly in France.

She was apparently the tenth of thirteen children born to sharecroppers George Coleman, who was of the Choctaw tribe and African-American, and his wife Susan, who was African-American. She began attending school at the age of six in Waxahachie, Texas. She completed all eight grades at that school, but her routine of school, chores, and church was interrupted annually by the cotton harvest. Still, she was an avid reader and an outstanding math student, which probably led her to go after her dream of flying, no matter where it took her. Being an Aquarius didn’t hurt, either!

Sadly, her life and career were cut short in a tragic accident that occurred during a practice flight in Jacksonville, Florida:

Coleman took her tragic last flight on April 30, 1926, in Jacksonville, Florida. Together with a young Texan mechanic called William Wills, Coleman was preparing for an air show that was to have taken place the following day. At 3,500 feet with Wills at the controls, an unsecured wrench somehow got caught in the control gears and the plane unexpectedly plummeted toward earth. Coleman, who wasn’t wearing a seat-belt, fell to her death.

About 10,000 mourners paid their last respects to the first African American woman aviator, filing past her coffin in Chicago South’s Side. Her funeral was attended by several prominent African Americans and it was presided over by Ida B. Wells, an outspoken advocate of equal rights. But despite the massive turnout and the tributes paid to Coleman during the service, several black reporters believed that the scope of Coleman’s accomplishments had never truly been recognized during her lifetime. An editorial in the “Dallas Express” stated, “There is reason to believe that the general public did not completely sense the size of her contribution to the achievements of the race as such.”

She is truly an inspiration to many, and her name deserves to be spoken with the same reverence and esteem that Amelia Earhart’s is. Sadly, when it comes to giving women historical credit, that honour is nearly always reserved for white women. Racism and segregation have only served to keep non-white women out of institutions of learning, and the revisionist white-washing of history has all but erased us from schoolbooks and other texts of education. We made our mark on this country and continue to do so. This is another woman who should be looked up to and emulated. She overcame far more than most women today can even imagine. I salute her today.

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Tuesday Tidbits: 24 January 2017

I wanted to get this post up before I get busy! I’m going to be tied up for the next few hours with my computer. This is the one that I had built in August of last year, but it was crashing and malfunctioning horribly, so it had to go back to the computer guy and the shop it was built at. I kept telling him, “Hey, there’s an issue that shouldn’t be happening and is causing my game to crash at intermittent times. It’s also causing the Plays.TV, Twitch, and YouTube programs to malfunction and cause the computer to crash and freeze.” He kept telling me that I was wrong; I was just imagining things, he knows it all and there’s nothing wrong at all. We took the computer back and said to give us a refund; he didn’t want to lose money, so finally decided that he had no choice but to at least look at it and see what the problem was. After a few months (October – December), he finally acknowledged that I was right; the hard drive had some issues that were causing problems with the motherboard and the GPU, and he located them and was going to fix them. By that point, I was pretty much done with his nonsense. See, when communication breaks down, it gets hard to get things back on track, if not downright impossible. At any rate, I said that I wasn’t interested in dealing with him any longer, since he refused to listen to my concerns and even acknowledge what I was saying. I suppose he doesn’t care that he lost a customer, especially since he supposedly has some huge new clients that require all of his time. A small-timer like myself, who just wanted a nice all-in-one rig for writing, gaming, and doing videos, isn’t important enough to keep. Corporate money’s where it’s at, bay-bah!

Digressing: he installed the components that I originally asked for (FINALLY!), and my hubby went and picked it up. Before bringing it home, he took it to a local computer tech that he’s been vetting since November, and had him run some performance tests to make sure that everything was installed and functioning properly. If anything had failed, he would have made suggestions on what to replace for a fix. The performance tests went better than expected, so I got my rig back this past Saturday.

Since I have some time to myself and some peace and quiet, I’m going to hook it up in a little bit and run it through some paces! I had the AMD Radeon™ GPU taken out, and have a better NVIDIA® GeForce® than the one that I originally asked for: I was going to settle for the GTX 950 GPU, but got the GTX 1050 instead. I’ll have to see with my own eyes how it compares to, or differs from, the AMD Radeon™ – it’s been awhile since I had an NVIDIA® GPU! The new motherboard is a Gigabyte™ Ultra Durable™, which supports 6th Gen Intel® Core™ processors. I’ll find out which Intel® processor is in it when I fire it up, since I don’t have the invoice handy at the moment.

Anyway, time to get busy! I always like working on little projects like this on my own. No distractions, so I can take my time and go over the steps in my mind. Also, I won’t have the handy little AMD®™ game-capture / record thingy any longer. Hopefully NVIDIA® / GeForce® has something similar; otherwise, I’ll just have to do my Twitch broadcasts and Plays.TV recording the regular way: through the control dashboards of those respective sites. Something new to learn, all over again! I shall return…

Protected: Monday Musings: Review of an Interview

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Excerpt: A New Craft

* Author’s Note: This excerpt is also a change in POV, to introduce depth to some of the characters that are of importance in the tale.

Endymion wipes his sweating brow, rolls his shoulders and cracks his neck, then returns his focus to the delicate scroll-work that he is carving on a bit of wood. He has been working on the piece in his spare time, which has been very little as of late. He had finally completed his apprenticeship with the smith, but found himself dissatisfied with his metal-work. He wanted to master a craft, but the work of a smithy wasn’t his forte. Unbeknownst to him, a good turn of fortune was about to take place in the form of an unexpected visit from Sepultur’a’s father.

Lord Yazim had noted his youngest daughter’s interest in the young man, seeing their obvious affection towards each other on the day of her departure. He wondered if the lad had aspirations of his own, or if he was merely hoping to marry into money. To satisfy his curiosity, he was hoping to speak with Endymion informally and offer him an apprenticeship. On a mild morning, about three months after Sepultur’a’s departure, he dressed in his most casual clothing and set off to the smith’s workshop. As he walks, a plan forms in his mind: a means of offering Endymion the apprenticeship without the lad knowing that he, Yazim, was responsible for it. Sometimes, subterfuge was a necessary means of gathering important information.

Bulgor gro-Kazhgur, the orc blacksmith, greets Yazim warmly, clasping his wrist in the warrior’s grip. “Hail, Lord Yazim! What can a lowly smith such as myself do for you this fine morn? Are ye in need of a new cuirass or pauldrons for the New Life Festival parade?” Yazim laughs heartily, clapping the orc’s solid shoulder. “Nay, good smith; I appreciate your offer, but my parade-garb is in fine shape, thanks to your craftsmanship. And you aren’t lowly, by any means! Your arms and armour sets are known far and wide, and your business is thriving. You have turned out many fine apprentices, and they have taken the knowledge and skills which you taught them back to their homelands. And, the work that you have done for my family and myself has always been exemplary. If there haven’t been books written about your prowess with metal-shaping, then there should be!” Bulgor smiles; on his scarred, tusked face it looks more like a pleasant grimace, but his appreciation of the compliment is apparent. He scratches his bald head. “Well, not all of my apprentices take what I teach them back to their homelands. Once in a while, I run across one who is…not necessarily unteachable, but their talents seem to be wasted under my tutelage.” He crosses his massive, muscular arms across his burly chest. “I currently have a young protégé who isn’t quite as adept as he, or I, had hoped that he’d be. Oh, he’s fair enough with a hammer and tongs, but I just don’t think that metal-crafting is what he should be doing. I think that he has finally, grudgingly, acknowledged it as well.” Yazim nods in understanding. “I think that I might know of whom you speak,” he says, looking around, making certain that the topic of their conversation isn’t in earshot. Seeing that Endymion is deeply engrossed in his project a good distance away, he turns back to Bulgor and continues. “In fact, I had a proposition for you which might be of benefit to all three of us.” Bulgor sets down his hammer, splashes water on his face from a bucket, and wipes his hands on the thick apron that covers his work-clothes. “Let us move away from the heat of the forge, then,” he rumbles. “I think that it is time for a break.” He and Yazim walk to a small, open balcony that overlooks the harbor, then stand side-by-side as they gaze out, taking in the view. The sun is still climbing in the sky, and a gentle breeze is blowing – the mild salt-scent is pleasant and refreshing after the heat from the forge. Gulls circle the fishing-boats and squabble over scraps as the boats return from their early-morning fishing excursions. Bulgor takes a dipper from a bucket of water and drinks deeply, quenching his thirst.

“So,” Yazim begins, “your young apprentice, the Nord lad – he isn’t adept with metal-work?” Bulgor nods in assent, sighing in slight disappointment. “He is a good-hearted and earnest lad, and doesn’t want to admit defeat, but…he simply doesn’t have the aptitude for smithing. I’ve tried to teach him even the simplest things; he does his best, but I can’t say that I’d trust the armour that he’s crafted. He can make daggers well enough, and if you need eating utensils, he’s your man. But, a good smith makes their living with arms and armour.” Bulgor shrugs. “I just don’t think that he’s cut out for forge-work, and I think that he realizes it as well. He is too proud to say so, however – typical of youth.” Yazim smiles at the statement, understanding it all too well. The impetuosity and pride of youth had gotten him into, and out of, many scrapes over his long life. “So, tell me,” Yazim asks, “do you think that he has any skills? Speak true, please. What we discuss here will not be used against anyone, nor will it be fodder for cheap gossip.” Yazim turns to Bulgor, watching the orc’s expressions as he answers in order to properly assess his reply.

Bulgor thinks for a moment before responding. “Well, he seems to have more than a fair aptitude for carving. The designs that I’ve seen him work in wood and bone are beyond compare. The carvings that he does in his idle time rival those of the finest wood-workers in the land.” He chuckles again. “The dark elves to the far east, and the cat-folk from the great deserts in the south and east would be envious of his skill. He is a natural.” Yazim’s brow furrows somewhat. “Why, then, did he not apprentice to a wood-hewer, I wonder?” Bulgor shrugs again. “I know not, milord Yazim. He was brought to me as a callow youth of fifteen years, and I was told to employ him for five years. Whether he learned anything of value or not seemed not to matter to the one who hired him to me. It’s almost as if a debt of some sort needed to be paid, and the lad was used to do so.” Yazim’s face turns thunderous at this. “What sort of person would use a child to pay off their debts? Such an action is most foul! He is certainly fortunate to have you as the one to employ him. Others might not have been as kind as you have been.” Bulgor nods. “Aye. We both know of people who traffic children as slaves for all sorts of purposes. He certainly could have ended up with a far worse task-master than I.” He leans on the rail of the balcony, gazing out over the harbor. “I know what it’s like to be more of a slave than an apprentice,” he finishes, his gruff voice surprisingly soft as he speaks those words.

Yazim nods, also leaning on the balcony rail and looking down at his small fleet of ships. There are four in total, but a fifth one is in the process of being built. The bare skeleton of the newest ship is being formed on the dry-dock: the keel, ribs, and lowest deck are clearly visible. It is yet unnamed, as Sepultur’a will be the one to name it before she takes it out on its maiden voyage. It is her ship, and it will be completed when she returns from her adventures. He thinks for a moment, then chooses his words carefully before speaking again. “So, you say that the lad is adept with carving? I wonder if his aptitude lends more to wood-shaping instead of metal-forging?” Yazim lets the question hang there, waiting for the orc to answer. He sees Bulgor’s scarred face brighten as the suggestion takes hold. “You could be on to something there, Lord Yazim. Metal-working isn’t the only noble profession, after all. I’ve always been quietly envious of those who carve the intricate designs in wood, bone, and stone. The staves of wizards and mages are certainly just as potent in battle as any sword or mace!” He turns to face the merchant-lord, grimacing a huge, tusked smile. “Do you think that the lad would be willing to be an apprentice for another five years?” he inquires. Yazim grins back broadly. “Well, if he is as talented as you say, then he might only need to stay on for one more year. – If he meets or exceeds my expectations, he would still get paid the full sum of a highly-skilled, five-year apprentice!” Bulgor roars out a laugh of approval, slapping his solid thigh with a meaty hand, then proffers his hand to Yazim, clasping it to seal their contract.

Young Endymion will move to the wood-carvers’ quarters, and begin his apprenticeship with them before the week is out. Yazim looks forward to seeing how the young man responds to this unexpected change of fortune. He also wants to observe him quietly and discreetly, as he had only recently been made aware of Sepultur’a’s interest in the young man. Anyone who wants to court his youngest child has to pass his muster, first. Honor, intellect, and a strong work ethic are important virtues to Yazim. He was taught them by his own father, and they had served him well during his life. He hopes that both of his daughters find worthy men. Ildris has not indicated to him or his wife if she is seeking anyone for companionship, as her excursions to and from the war-front keep her well involved in battles. His son needed no permission from him to marry, as it was customary for the family of a potential bride to vet any and all suitors. Sonja’s family had found his son more than a worthy prospect for their only child, and had been overjoyed when he asked for her to be his wife. Yazim hopes that Endymion never dulls the glow of joy he’d seen on Sepultur’a’s face. His expression hardens a bit at that thought; he knows that some men do nothing more than use women and toss them aside, and does not want to see that happen to his youngest. Indeed, any man who brings tears to the eyes of any of the women-folk in his life would pay dearly for that insult and transgression.

Bulgor sees the hard look on the merchant-lord’s face, and is glad that it is not directed at him. He would rather face the rage of all of his kinfolk at the stronghold where he’d grown up, or the lash of the whip of his former master, than bear the brunt of Yazim’s anger and vengeance. Yazim’s reputation, for good or ill, was well-known. Those who were ignorant of it never forgot it…if they happened to survive it, that is. Lord Yazim was not one to cross, and any slights to his family’s honor or name were never forgotten.

The two leave the balcony, exchanging mild pleasantries as they return to the forge. After a few more minutes of talk that menfolk discuss away from women, Yazim finally bids Bulgor farewell, letting him know that the arrangements would be made as soon as possible. He leaves the orc to his work, making his way back to the manor. He decides to walk through the family gardens on the way, as the jasmine is blooming. He enjoys the sweet fragrance of the pale flowers, and hopes to find a unique bloom that he can show to his wife when they take their evening stroll.

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