Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Korean cooking quests!

Three years back I did a post on real life influences on WoW locations. In the post I mentioned the asian influence of Darnassus, noting that the main gate of Darnassus was inspired by a historic gate in Seoul, Korea. Here's some more proof that the night elves are Korean!

So I know that the new cooking and fishing quests in Darnassus and Ironforge have been out a while. But I really have no need to do them anymore, so while I knew that they were there, I hadn't picked them up yet. Well this past weekend I was on when an alt of Buns' was doing the daily cooking quest on Darnassus. And OMG there was kimchi involved! So I had to research further.

There are five new cooking quests from Darnassus. Here is a link from the PTR that lists the quests since achievements will be added for them in 4.2. So let me break these quests down to give you in the down-low on the Korean bit.

The first one is the most obvious, The Secret to the Perfect Kimchi. I was so excited to get and do this quest!

Here's a screenshot from the kimchi jars you have to dig up:

The jars that kimchi are stored in are called onggi (which can also store other condiments). They are also not quite as small as in the quest. They are actually quite large. Here are a couple of pictures where I hope you can get a sense of their scale:

The next two quests are sort of related, Back to Basics and Remembering the Ancestors. They both deal with rice cakes, called duk in Korean, which are my absolute fave.

Now there are hundreds of different kinds of rice cakes. They are traditionally eaten on New Years Day, as well as celebrations such as weddings, birthdays, and Korean thanksgiving. Now in Back to Basics, the quest asks you to go help pound rice flour. Here's a pic of how it's really done:

In Remembering the Ancestors, the quest asks you to get some rice cakes then present them to the ancestors. Korean Jesa is a ceremony where you honor your ancestors. I actually grew up doing this regularly for my grandparents. There is more than just rice cakes on a jesa table. In the first pic, the rice cakes are on the upper right corner:

Ribs for the Sentinels, may not seem overtly Korean. But kalbi, Korean ribs, are a staple in Korean cooking. They are also very often eaten by cooking them yourself at the table. This is why when the quest asks you to cook them over an open fire, I was like OMG! Kalbi!

This leaves the last quest, Spice Bread Aplenty. This quest totally doesn't go with the others! It's not Korean! Where can I protest? I would like to suggest the quest be changed to gathering vegetables for japchae or bibimbap. But still, 4 out of the 5 Darnassus cooking quests scream Korean to me!

I think I'm going to try to hang out in Darnassus more. I forgot how much I love it there. Maybe its just that I feel at home with my Korean night elf brothers and sisters.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Before you admonish the next Chinese gold seller you come across...

... read this article.

I can't say for sure that this article is 100% true, but I find it quite sad and if it is. This article in The Guardian says that Chinese prisoners are being forced to gold farming. Whoa. Just whoa.

The article chronicles the story of a prisoner that says that prisoners were not only forced to do manual labor by day, but were also made to play online games and farm gold in MMOs such as World of Warcraft by night.

"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor. There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [$770-$924] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."

"It was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real".

"If I couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things".

This prisoner was released in 2009, but stated that he still believes that the practice of prisoners being forced to earn online currency in multiplayer games is still widespread.

I am saddened by the plight of these Chinese prisoners. With all the talk about China becoming a world power we seem to have forgotten that they are still a communist society with no real freedoms for their citizens. What kind of prisoners are these, that are forced to farm gold? Political prisoners? Religious prisoners? Prisoners speaking out for Tibetan independence? Journalists? Simple people speaking out against their government? Sad, just sad.

I'm also just astonished that there is still such a market for gold... that prison bosses would force their prisoners to farm gold. FFS people, don't buy gold.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interesting wowwiki lore

I'm a huge wikipedia junkie. Huge. I'll often wikipedia something I come across on TV or a movie or whatever just to learn more about it. Then it becomes a series of never ending clicks to a new wiki page, and another one, and another one...

Have you ever really explored wowwiki? I was on wowwiki a while back and a series of following several links led me to a page on sexuality in WoW. Intrigued?

Some of the lore information I found on this page was kind of interesting:

- "In Duskwood, a pregnancy — human, elven, or dwarven — has not been carried to term in two years".
- "Interacial breeding is generally frowned upon by human and elven society. Half-elves usually suffer bigotry from both their elven and human parents. The elven parents often abandon their children".
- "Night elves do not traditionally marry, but they do take companions for life".
- "Wildhammer dwarves only have a single holiday each year in which all the marriages are performed. It is one of the three community rituals held per year (the other two are for births and deaths respectively). Wildhammer dwarves commonly marry someone from their same birth year".

As a night elf, I found this paragraph quite interesting:

- "Prior to the conclusion of the Third War, night elf society was sharply divided by gender, with the vast majority of men being druids and most women serving as warriors, priestesses, or a combination thereof. There were a few deviations, obviously- males with no aptitude for druidism trained in the arts of war, and females with exceptional druidic gifts were trained, but these gender roles more or less defined the culture of the kaldorei for ten thousand years. In the years since Archimonde's death, this gender division appears to have eased somewhat, and more women have taken up the mantle of the druids, just as men have begun to choose the path of war or dedicate themselves to Elune."

Anyways, check out the wowwiki link. There are some other tidbits from lore that were interesting.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday randomness

My blogging time has been cut back while I get acclimated to the craziness of this new project in Winston Salem. But a number of random thoughts to share:

1. Tree of Life movie finally out:

In September of 2008, I posted hearing about some new movie called The Tree of Life coming out. About two and a half years later, the movie is out. The film directed by Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt, took home the top prize Sunday at the Cannes film festival this past weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

2. Star Wars Cute-sified:

I'm a sucker for all things cute. Including Star Wars characters drawn by Mikeydoodles.

3. Mark Twain had it right:

One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain, "When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear". I think that quote summarizes my ongoing quest for pvp achievements quite well.

This past weekend was Strand of the Ancients weekend. I did a lot of Strands matches, of which I think I won about 60%. I was able to farm three more Strands achievements, which only leaves two more achievements (the win 100 matches and place 100 bombs) to get the Master of Strands of the Ancients achievement. Huzzah!

But I'm still working on the Master of Alterac Valley achievement. The only one I need to finish to get this is to win 100 AVs. I'm still at 75. Farming AV is a total bitch because they take so long. And its a total bitch when my AV world has been the following:

Isn't there a saying that goes, 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me'? Well Alliance, shame on you. Seriously f'ing shame on you. I don't understand how Alliance can't seem to understand that the Horde are going turtle and defend Galv each time. And yet folks run into that trap.

I've become one of those annoying folks who says what needs to be done at the beginning of matches, trying to let folks know that we either need to all go into Galv to overwhelm the Horde or need to go straight for towers. I swear to God getting the 25 more wins to finish the meta achievement is going to be the death of me (as evidenced by my caps lock profane outbursts in guild chat yesterday).


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This is so going to be me

Hahaha this amuses me so. You tell her Edna!

Anyways. Our guild was finally able to get back into progression raiding after about two weeks of just farming old content due to people being unavailable. Jess was offline for about 10 days because his old laptop died, even though I have been nagging him since last fall to get it replaced. Let this be a lesson that bad things happen when you don't listen to the guild mom.

We are also in the process of planning for our Clawcon II, which will once again be this July in the Seattle area. I'm anticipating about 8-9 current and past guildies. I have met most of the folks last year, either in Seattle or Chicago. But it'll be fun to finally meet our mage Mr McSquishy and I can't wait to see the interactions between some of the other guildies. There is already a lot of joking about the communal sleeping arrangements.

I think that having these relationships outside the game definitely makes us stronger as a guild and as a raid. Once you meet people in person and understand their personalities or quirks better, you have a context for things that you see or experience during raids.

On the flip side though, having these relationships outside the game makes it even harder when someone leaves the game. I have noticed lately that guildies are not all on as much outside of raids. I mean folks are online, but not everyone is online at the same time anymore. People have their own RL priorities, which is definitely good. But it really makes me wonder how much we will really all be playing together.


Friday, May 13, 2011

They're on to me!

Hmmm so it looks like Blogger was down for a while today. It comes back up and my last post is missing. Weird.

Anyways, just wanted to thank everyone for their support with the whole Cenarion pet thing. There were a number of folks who said that they ended up buying several pets as gifts as well, which was awesome for me to hear.

There are still about 8 original commenters who have not sent me an email with the name they commented under and whether they need a US or EU based pet. For you 8 folks (you know who you are!) please do so soon.

Buying all these pets caused a bit of a ruckus with my credit card company. I bought the pets in batches of 3-8 as the emails came through. But having multiple internet based transactions triggered my credit card's fraud alert system. All in all, I have had my card frozen 3 times over the past week.

After another alert yesterday, I had to call my credit card company and get quite angry asian girl on them, telling them that any online Blizz transactions are indeed me and that if they freeze my card again, that I am going to get very very angry.

But Blizzard hasn't made this any easier as well. For you 3 EU based players waiting for your pets, I really hope to have the final confirmed codes soon. So not only did the multiple attempts at the EU based purchases freak out my credit card company even more than the US based purchases, but when the EU transactions finally went through, Blizzard themselves cancelled the transactions. They said they did so because they saw that I was a US based player, even though I specifically noted that these were gifts for EU players.

Sigh. So just as a note... if any of you ever want to buy and gift any digital downloads across the US or EU Battlenet store, make sure to first let your credit company know, then secondly let Blizzard know that you are aware you are buying these items and intending to gift them. They (Blizz and the credit card company) say that they are doing this for my protection but it gets quite irritating.

Finally, I've mentioned the amusement I get out of checking out Statcounter stats from time to time. Whether its specific search terms that land people on your blog, where people are checking your blog from, or being a bit stalker-ish (you fellow bloggers know what I'm talking about). Anyways, a week or so ago, I was pretty amused and slightly freaked out from checking out my statcounter.

In mid April I posted about the FBI's involvement in gold selling and tracking down terrorists in virtual worlds. And I kid you not, I got a hit on that specific post from an IP address labeled FBI Criminal Justice Information Systems.

Whoa. I mean it's probably just that they have some automated web crawler that is set to look for certain phrases and just came to check me out. But as Beru said, if I disppear or anything, you all know what happened! :)

*I wonder if they're going to monitor the blog or flag it or something even more now that I've posted that I know that they're watching. Hmmm.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Managing vs Mothering

Things have been crazy for me as this is the first week of a new project. Thus, I am now traveling weekly to Winston Salem, NC which is only 70 miles away from my hometown of Chapel Hill. After 3 and a half years of consulting, this is my first assigned project to my home state! Woot. Sweet tea FTW! Grits FTW! It's also interesting coming back to an environment where it's not unheard of (and not meant to be sexist) to be called sugar or darlin' or hon.

Anyways, there are a number of teams at this client that are being managed by respective project managers. The other day we were having a conversation with our project executive and he was giving us his take on some of these project managers.

He talked about how he has project managers and project mothers. His managers keep people on task and get things done. In contrast, his mothers lead their teams by being sensitive (and perhaps sometimes too sensitive) to individuals. His mothers want everyone to hold hands and cross the finish line at the same time, whereas his managers don't manage around feelings or personalities as much and don't care whether someone crosses the finish line before someone else.

I thought it was an interesting concept. It also reminded me how Jess and I have run things in our guild. Jess is the project manager/guild manager. I am the project mother/guild mother. I guess this isn't a huge surprise since when I was trying to organize a guild run of ZA/ZG the other week, I got a whisper of "Yes Mom" the exact same time from Kal and Lorosia.

I think I've already mentioned that for a while now there has been a ongoing guild joke that once a ready check is instituted, the tank often asks something like "And K? Are you really really ready?" Because I have a tendency to yell "Wait!" on vent even after a ready check has passed.

I should really log what a typical raid looks like for me from a whisper conversation standpoint. It would be quite amusing I think to myself and my guildies to see what my laptop screen looks like at times. Mmmm... I need to remember sometime to screenshot some of the crazier whisper times and share them later after blurring the specific names and convos.

But if I think about a typical raid, I will end up exchanging whispers with at least 7 or 8 folks. Now yes, probably 2 or 3 of them are smaller one-off whisper conversations of just a couple lines. Then I have 3 or 4 of them that are shorter whisper conversations that come and go throughout the raid night. Then I have about 2 conversations that are pretty constant throughout the raid night.

But this means that over the course of the raid, I have 8 tabs of separate conversations with guildies in my WIM window. Now I'm not complaining because many of these conversations are conversations that I initiate in order to check in with friends and be a mother and maintain relationships (which is just a really nice way of saying I am nosy and want to know what people are doing).

However, the interesting thing is when something in the raid goes less than expected. Let's say we are having a hard time on a boss or having an off night. Or we find that some strategy is not working and we need to switch our strategy to make sense for us. These sort of suggestions or conversations tend to all funnel through me.

I then add what I want to add, ignore what I want to ignore, add personal observations about people or current emotions/feelings (which are often my perceptions based on what I know about people and having ongoing conversations), then forward a consolidated lay of the land to Jess.

So when I say to Jess something like "I think we should put X on Y and do A, B, C", that came about through 3 or 4 whisper conversations. It's just interesting to me that I am the filter for Jess. But this is why half the time when I am the slowest on ready checks or slowest on running back after a wipe. Because I'm whispering!

So give me a break guys! I'm busy mothering!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Cenarion Hatchling pet results

I'm glad that there was enough interest from those of you who were interested in a pet. I'd also like to thank those who commented with your support or your personal story.

Ultimately I have decided that I'm going go the Oprah route with this. You know how Oprah gives away a car or some grand trip or whatever, and the rest of the audience politely claps for the winner? But then you come back from a commercial break and Oprah starts screaming and gesticulating wildly, pointing at everyone saying "You get a car... you get a car... you get a car... you get a car!!!".

Yes, that's just a long and completely irrelevant (yet amusing to me) way of saying that I will be gifting a pet to every commenter. I've thought about this over the last couple of days and while I am good at bitching about the little things, I have been incredibly blessed in so many ways. Blessed with good health, blessed to have received the education I have received, and blessed and really damn lucky to have somehow survived when over half my practice has been laid off over the last two years.

The only loser here is Jess, who doesn't get to do his random statistics mumbo jumbo. Everyone together now, 'Awwww poor Jess'. Again, as a reminder one of the pets I'm giving away was generously donated by Sakaki at Tree Sprouting. Thanks again Sakaki!

At the bottom of this post is a list of commenters who I believe are interested in a pet. If I'm wrong, let me know. Unless you specifically said you did not want a pet, I have included your name. So for the below named folks, please send me an email (keredria at gmail dot com) and I will respond with the redemption code.

In the email you send me, I need two things:
1. Give me the name you commented under, in case that is not clear from your email address
2. Let me know if you need a pet from the EU Blizz store as I believe I can buy pets in the EU store if needed (please please please someone let me know if this is false).

Give me a couple days to get this all done so if I don't respond right away, don't worry... its coming.

Thank you guys so much for allowing me to do this and donate to a cause so close to my heart.

Yay everyone wins!:
Iz Chan
Cheryl 'Aoife'


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Want a Cenarion Hatchling pet?*

I'm sure you guys saw that Blizz has a new pet in their pet store, the Cenarion Hatchling. I have actually never bought a pet from the Blizz store, even when the incredibly cute moonkin pet was released. But I did something I've never done this morning and bought the Cenarion Hatchling pet. Why? Well, when I read that 100% of the proceeds were going to the American Red Cross's Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief efforts, it was a no brainer for me.

I didn't mention it on this blog, but the earthquake and tsunami in Japan hit very close to home for me. While I am Korean by ethnicity, I was actually born in Sendai, Japan and my family lived there for 5 years while my dad was getting his Ph.D. Sendai has always been very close to my heart and I was devastated by the destruction of its coastal areas.

So for a cause so incredibly close to my heart to coincide with this game seems to me like more than just coincidence. And given that I've blogged here on Tree of Life for almost 4 years with nothing more to give you than my witty sarcasm and silly sense of humor, I figure its time to offer something more.

Thus, I am offering these pets as gifts. Leave a comment if you are interested. I will have Jess then use his statistical brilliance to pick comments at random and will put up a post with the names of those who have won. Then you can shoot me an email and we'll arrange for me to gift the pet to you. (FYI, I will probably need help on how to gift a pet to someone, because remember I am technically challenged).

To keep it simple, please only one comment per person. I am going to keep comments open for 48 hours. Comments will be closed at about 3 pm CST on Thursday, May 5 and winners will be announced on Friday, May 6. I haven't completely decided yet how many will win, but I am planning on buying at least 10 pets. Heck, maybe I'll only get 10 comments, and everyone can win!

And yes, this is open to guildies as well.

*Update: Sakaki of Tree Sproutling has generously donated a Cenarion Hatchling to this cause as well. Thanks so much Sakaki! I'm sure the future owner will be thrilled. :)


Monday, May 2, 2011

Amazing turnaround on closed account

I received an email on Friday evening at 9:13 pm:

"Reason for Closure: Terms of Use Violation -- Exploitative Activity: Use of Third Party Automation Software

This account was closed because one or more characters were identified using an unauthorized cheat program, also known as a "hack." These programs provide character benefits normally not achievable in the World of Warcraft. Such benefits include, but are not limited to, increased speed, teleportation, or running through walls/boundaries. Use of these unauthorized programs harms the game environment because they offer an unfair advantage over other players and supersede the intended limits of the game."

This amused me because my technical know-how is so low that I barely know enough to be able to update my addons. Seriously. Ask my guildies. So... me? Using a hack or a bot? Seriously?

I responded to the link in the email to dispute the claim. After sending an email out to some guildies, they got on vent to chat with me. I really expected that the process to settle this would take days. I honestly did not expect to be able to raid on Sunday night. So while I filled out the online dispute claim, I also had 10 more minutes before the Blizz call center closed. So I had a guildie find the customer service 1-800 number for me and I called on a whim. Given what I'd heard about huge wait times, I didn't expect much.

But lo and behold, my wait time was 1 minute. I talked to a guy and explained my situation. He then asked whether I used any addons. I didn't want to be a smart ass, but my answer was something like "Nothing more than everyone else uses". I mean seriously, you're going to ask a WoW player if they ask any addons? I mean who doesn't?

Anyways, so then he said that he'd forward my account to the investigative people and that while they work around the clock, to give them a couple of hours to look into it. He told me to expect some sort of response on Saturday morning. I got off the phone feeling pretty pleased with the customer service, and thought that a response Saturday morning was quite reasonable.

However about 10 minutes after I got off the phone, I received an email at 10:08 pm from an GM saying:

"Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding the World of Warcraft account you are using. We understand your point of view and have thoroughly reviewed this issue. As a result, the account action has been removed from the account and all involved parties have been addressed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused"

The complete turn around from when I first received the account closure email to when I got this second email saying it was resolved? Less than an hour. I am absolutely floored with how quickly it was resolved. As I joked with guildies, I didn't even have to get all Grrr angry asian girl on them to get this resolved.

However, I don't have an answer for what may have triggered whatever automated system they have to try to find people using hacks and bots. And I am not convinced that it won't happen again in the future. Guildies had some ideas for what may have triggered this: