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May 16, 2006

Meatloaf With a Tie

I think I have reached a stage of delirium.

I'm laughing inappropriately - too long and too loud, with the snorting and the fist beating on the desk - at things that Jake says that aren't really even funny. He referred to El Paso as "meatloaf with a tie" and I lost it; tears streaming down my face and everything.

And then I proceeded to giggle and laugh under my breath for the next half hour.

I think it's from a combination of:

1. Lack of sleep
2. Lack of food
3. WAY too much stress

And I keep typing "Meatload" which, in this context, is entirely too gross.

Earlier, Jake told me he smelled onions. I came back from lunch, sat down at my desk, logged onto my computer, then loudly declared that "it smells like BACON in here."

Olafactory hallucinations, are they a sign of mental illness?

Posted by Highwaygirl on 05:23 PM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2006

Killing Them Softly

I would kill you and eat you, if given the chance.

Me: alligator kills woman
Me: and that is why all alligators should be killed
Jen: OMG
Jen: That is crazy how he just attacked her
Me: and you defended them!!!
Jen: I admit, I do love the gators
Me: even if they ripped your arms off and let you bleed to death? ;)
Jen: then, no

Me: alligator kills woman
Me: *screams in fear*
Rappy: god, just thinking about DF is making me angry again.
Me: think about having your arms ripped off by an alligator instead
Rappy: good idea
Rappy: Jesus, that's horrific
Me: every last single one of them
Rappy: right along with the roaches
Me: amen, sista-friend

And now this - two more women killed by alligators. I'm especially weirded out since one of them lives one town south of me, and her sister is married to a man who shares my last name.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 01:38 PM | Comments (4)

May 12, 2006

I'm OK, You're Kinda Strange

Just a bit of an update/explanation as to why I haven't been keeping my site updated.

I'm really, really, really, really busy.

May/June is the worst time of the year at work because our clients are government agencies, whose fiscal year begins on July 1. So a lot of the time we're trying to deliver systems by that date. This year we have two huge state systems to complete, and they're new versions of our product.

Essentially, it's a gigantic undertaking and most people at work really want to swan dive off the top of the building onto the burning hot asphalt below. I don't think anyone has actually done it yet, though.

Plus, the user conference we host is in a week, so people are running around going mental over preparations for that. I'm giving a presentation on content management; hopefully you've already signed up.

Anyway, between work and my social life, the website is suffering and lonely. But everything is good. I'm stressed-but-happy, and things with Marcel are wonderful (and he's coming for a week-long visit in June).

So that's that. But later I may rant about how every call I make is being documented for posterity by the Bush administration.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

Good WoW Hunting

Or, The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together.

I didn't want it to come to this. In fact, I didn't want to admit to this at all, but I think I have to say something now because this thing is taking up a good chunk of my time (not to mention infiltrating my dreams).

For the better part of a year now my family - starting with my father and nephew and then extending on to my sister-in-law - have been pestering me to start playing an online game called World of Warcraft (WoW). There's a technical name for this thing - MUD? MORG? Somethinglikethat. It's one of those games that you play online with people who are also online in the game at the same time.

You fight monsters and humanoids and demons and stuff, and you get money and treasures (of varying degrees of worth) while doing so. I figured it was basically an online version of the Dungeons & Dragons that my brother and I used to play when we were kids.

(Yes, I was a D&D geek.)

Anyway, I resisted my family's constant and unrelenting pressure to play WoW for a few reasons. First, I didn't want to spend $15 a month on a game. Second, I just didn't have time to devote to playing the game - I'm a busy girl with a busy life. Finally, and most importantly, my computer did not have a good enough video card to handle the game software.

So these were my outs every time someone would start trying to pressure me to play. "I can't, my video card isn't good enough." Then my dad said he'd buy me a new video card, but I countered with "I don't want to disconnect everything and bring my computer down to you so you can put in the new card."

HE countered with the suggestion that he'd just come up to my place and install the card there. I volleyed back with my "no time" excuse.

But they kept at me. Whenever we'd all be together for dinner, or at one of Alex's football games, they'd all be talking about WoW. ALL of them - my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my nephew. They all played, and they often played together, helping each other out with quests and battles.

So after awhile I started getting curious about it. One day when I was over at my brother's house I asked Alex to show me what the game was like. He signed on as one of his characters, and I signed on as one of his mom's characters, and we walked around killing things. I'm not a natural at video games, so it was overwhelming and difficult to understand, I couldn't really navigate around very well using the mouse, and I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

But, it was also fun.


So then I started thinking, maybe. Maybe I'd be interested in playing. But still there was the video card problem, and the money problem, and the time problem. I solved the money problem by dropping my Netflix account to the bare minimum (according to my sister-in-law, once I started playing WoW I "wouldn't have time to watch movies, anyway" - or, as it turns out, much of anything). My family solved the computer issues for my birthday, buying me the game software and a new video card, AND coming up to my place for my birthday dinner and installing the card in my computer.

Then I had no excuse.

We went to dinner at Old Chicago on my birthday and we started discussing which names I should use for my characters. We made a list, and when we got back (after all of the game updates and patches had finished downloading/installing), I created my account.

Then the hard part begins - what do you want to be? First you chose the race of your character - human, dwarf, gnome or night elf. Gnomes and dwarves were out, on account of being vertically challenged and in the case of dwarves - blindingly ugly. Humans were kind of boring, but night elves looked super cool, so that's what I chose.

Next, you select your class, and my options for night elves were Hunter, Druid, Warrior, Priest, and Rogue. Given my shifty nature, I chose to be a rogue.

Finally, the moment of truth - selecting a name. I was very happy to get my first choice, Amygdala.

And thus began my descent into the most time-consumingly obsessive activity I currently have in my life.

I should have taken a screenshot of Amygdala when she had head-to-toe black armor and red glowing daggers, because she looked SHARP (other players in the game would constantly whisper, or message, me to ask how I accomplished the all-black look). But I didn't. So here's what she looks like right now, at level 28 (out of 60):

My World of Warcraft character, Amygdala

Dig the ears and the tribal face markings! She's rocking a sword in her right (main) hand and a poisoned dagger in her left.

One oddity I ran across last weekend - some random player whispered me and asked if I'd give him a lap dance. Yeah, I know - the hell? So that was my response - "The hell?" He said he'd give me 5 gold (decent coin) if I'd unequip all of my gear (basically stripping my character down to underclothes) and dance for him.


(Incidentally, the Tauren female and Gnome male dances crack me up.)

But anyway, none of this is why I'm actually composing this post. I'm writing about this because of the strange, and yet undeniably positive, way this has bonded my family.

As long as he's playing this game, my nephew and I will always have a common bond to talk about. I call my dad or brother for tips on how to do things that I don't understand. Both my sister-in-law and nephew have met up my characters (I have second character now, a human paladin named Strictnine) in one of the worlds within the game to help out with quests that are too difficult for me to accomplish on my own.

And yes, maybe we're talking about imaginary fantasy characters and CGI monsters that we "kill," and "loot" that we "equip." Maybe we're not talking about our feelings, or our philosophical views on life, or the geopolitical state of the world. But we're talking. More importantly, we're sharing an experience that is giving us lasting memories that include each other.

Like the night that Terri helped run Strictnine around between two continents so I could get flight points and finish the Children's Week quest so I could get my very own pet piglet (whom I renamed "Hamhock" rather than the game-generated "Mr. Wiggles").

Or the time that Terri, Alex and my dad all helped me go through a place called the Deadmines ("Mommy, mommy, can we do Deadmines today?!"), an "instance" (sort of a game within the game) that would let me pick up a lot of decent loot that I could either use or sell to build up my cash reserve. Alex also ran me over to a world that I'd never been to before so that I could complete a quest specifically given to rogues.

And on and on. Right now my dad's paladin and Amygdala are in Duskwood working on a multi-part quest (Stalvan) that has us killing a lot of undead things. That's right - I'm gaming with my dad.

In fact, my dad said something very sweet one night when we were slaying undead warriors. I was getting dogpiled by some undead and he came over and helped kill them. So I thanked him for that and he said, "I always try to protect you."

Me, his kid. Not my character.

Like I said, when I first started playing I didn't know what I was doing and depended on the kindness of strangers (other players) a lot. Now that I'm a decently high level, it's fun to repay that help in kind. I was off in a very easy place (Elwynn Forest) for my level, because I had picked up the skinning profession and wanted to level it up quickly by killing stuff with one blow. So I was happily beating the hell out of level 5 boars, when two people asked if I could help them finish a quest.

I went in, smacked around the beasties that were giving them problems, and was their hero ... if only for 15 minutes.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:54 PM | Comments (3)

May 08, 2006

It's Monday

And this is how I feel:

A Sphynx kitten is held before a referee while being evaluated at an international cat beauty contest in Bucharest Romania Sunday May 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:41 PM | Comments (3)

May 01, 2006

Thar She Blows!

I just have to ask - men find this attractive?


A model wears a creation by Colombian manufacturer St Even during a fashion show in Medellin, April 28, 2006. REUTERS/Albeiro Lopera

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:40 PM | Comments (7)