Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How the new job reminds me of our guild

I just started a new job in Seattle last Monday. My new office is actually just one block south and one block over from Beru's office. How crazy is that? I don't remember exactly when or how Beru and I started to chat and connect outside of our blogs, but I never would have thought that we'd end up working so close to each other. We were able to meet up for lunch yesterday, which was fun!

I'm still in the new job phase where I'm being super productive and finishing things really really fast. Probably too fast. I realized the other day that I need to slow it down a notch so that they don't expect that all the time. So there was something that I could have turned around yesterday that I decided to wait to turn around until mid day today. I need to set expectations and look ahead to when I'll be back to procrastinating a bit!

My new workplace reminds me a bit of my guild, in that the people are definitely nice and welcoming but not overtly in your face friendly. While I got taken out to lunch every day last week, outside of that I was mainly left to my own devices. Perhaps in part because I was assigned to two projects by the third day and had things I needed to do.

I've met and talked to a number of people in the office, and I think my plan is to just slowly and gradually get to know other people. I'm taking the opportunity to get advice about the job as well as living in Seattle, and I'm asking the younger consultants out to lunch to do so. But all very slowly. In all my previous jobs I've formed really good friendships with female co-workers, but it has taken time. And I don't think this job is going to be any different.

I don't know how you could explain an environment like this to someone new joining our guild. What do you say, that it'll take time for us to get to know you and vice versa? So don't expect us to be holding hands and singing kumbaya in one weeks time? That you can't expect to come right in and be on the same buddy buddy page as everyone else? I don't know, but perhaps Jess and I can do a better job trying to explain it to future new guildies. Though part of me also thinks that if we have to explain that to someone that perhaps they aren't the best fit.

However new guildies, especially new male guildies, will have to prepare for a certain guild environment as depicted below:

Just to explain a bit, Sam/Nikolai/Anjelique has a thing for pallys. Especially ret pallys and when ret pallys, um... (I'm a bit embarrassed to be typing this out right now on the blog)... but when ret pallys divine storm... all over your face.

So yeah. As a female in this guild, you have nothing to worry about. If you're a guy? Watch out.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Yes, that really happened

1. I haven't posted in two weeks:

It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me personally, as the week of the 12th I was frantically getting my condo in Chicago ready to put on the market. It's funny how staging a home means making it an environment that no one really lives in, i.e. nothing out anywhere! Then last Monday I flew to Seattle for my first week of work. It was a tiring first couple of days from the mental aspect of just getting used to a new work environment, as well as dealing with jet lag and the crazy Seattle hills. Hopefully things will settle down so I can get back to a more regular posting schedule.

2. Baleroc provided some lols:

You know the trash on the left side before you get to Baleroc? Well for some reason a couple weeks back, I could not run back to Bal without grabbing aggro. I swear, I think I died three times on a single run back. After the third death, I just asked someone to rez me. /sigh

It was another night on Baleroc where dps and healers were learning our respective transitions. I was having a hard time hearing my arch nemesis Lorosia, who is pretty quiet on vent. I joked to Jess it was because the dps were too loud on vent and that they needed to simmer down. He goes, "Seriously? lawl".

As we were learning the fight, the healers ended up going to another channel, which we've never done before. It was nice in a way because we could then openly blame everything on the tanks and the dps. But it also felt isolating because you couldn't hear everyone else. I don't think I want to do separate vent channels until we absolutely have to.

3. There is more than one rare dragon in Deepholm:

A week or so ago I was farming herbs or lavascale catfish or something in Deepholm when my NPC scan went off. Ooh, a dragon! Now I sorta knew in the back of my mind that there was some rare elite that drops a mount or something in Deepholm. I guess I figured this dragon was that dragon. First I called Jess to come help. I thought that the two of us could kill it. Um... 20 something minutes later and the dragon ended up disengaging. I think he was laughing at a tank and a healer trying to kill him.

Thus, we called Nikolai to come help us. Even then it took us a good while. The dragon then drops its loot and what? There is no mount? Oh... this is Xariona, who just drops 359 elites. Not to be confused with Aeonaxx, which is the elite that drops the mount. /sigh

4. We are cursed:

The Left Claw's first kill of Majordomo? Guess what shoulder token drops. Yep, pally priest warlock FFS. FFS!!! We only ever saw pally priest warlock tokens drop off Cho'gall. I'm not quite sure what we need to do to change our luck. Perhaps make an offering to the loot gods? I don't know perhaps we can sacrifice a hunter or a DK or something.

5. Gamers are succeeding where scientists failed:

Finally over a year ago I posted about Foldit, an online game that scientists created for players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules. Well get this. Through Foldit, gamers have solved the structure of a retrovirus enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, a problem that had long stumped scientists.

The research program director noted that "“Online gamers have solved a longstanding scientific problem, perhaps leading the way to new anti-viral drugs". An article that talks a bit more about this concludes by saying "The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems.”

How cool is that?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Totally non WoW related post today. Two years ago I posted my 9/11 story. Given the 10 year anniversary of the event, I couldn't help but think back to that time, recalling what I saw and felt. Thus I went back to edit and add a number of details and thoughts to my story. So I am reposting the edited post along with some of my personal photos from ten years ago. Picture above is from a dinner cruise I took around the city just about a month before 9/11.

In the fall of 2001, I was living in New York, in my last semester of my first grad program. I was living in a student apartment on Columbia's Health Science campus up on 168th and Broadway where my program was located. Half of my classes that semester were during the day and the other half were at night. Thus, I was also working part time where I had interned the previous summer. This office of a public NYC agency was located downtown, about 8 blocks from the WTC towers. I used to go down in front of the towers quite a bit while I worked there, because my favorite department store, Century 21 faced the towers.

The three years I lived in New York I was pretty crazy about shoes. I used to wear 3-4 inch high heels or strappy sandals all the time. That Tuesday morning, I walked out of my place and headed to the elevator. While I was waiting for the elevator, I was kind of shifting my feet in place, because my feet were still a bit sore from the previous day's beautiful, but killer pair of sandals. The elevator came and the doors opened up, and I thought to myself, "You know what? I can't do this again today. I have to wear some sensible shoes today". While typically I would have just stuck with the shoes I had chosen to wear, that morning I actually walked back into my place to change into a really comfortable pair of flat sandals.

Once I changed my shoes, I got myself back out the door and onto the subway to head downtown. I got off the train at the Chambers St station and headed up the flight of stairs that I always walked out of, a flight of stairs that opened up to a clear straight on view of the WTC towers. Now as I'm heading up the stairs, I see and hear a woman wailing and crying at the top of the stairs. My typical NYC thought? "Oh gosh, there goes another crazy person". When I got to the top of the stairs, I quickly realized she wasn't just a crazy person. It was about 8:50 am and the first tower had just been hit.

I stood there confused, wondering what was going on along with everyone else near me. I asked some one else what had just happened. What? A plane? How could this have happened? The mood in the group of people I was standing with was one of confusion and shock. As we were standing there, talking to each other, trying to grasp the reality of what we were seeing 7 blocks away, we heard a very very loud sound. People ducked or whipped their heads, the sound was so loud and felt so close to us. I then saw first hand the second plane hit.

The mood in the group quickly turned to fear and panic as people quickly realized this wasn't an accident. People started screaming and running. I headed into my work building to touch base with my boss and the office director. I was told that because our building was a federal building, it was being immediately evacuated. My boss told me that I should probably get right back on the subway and head back uptown because she was certain that the subways would quickly be shut down. We left the building and I said goodbye to my boss and director, who both immediately got on the subways to head home.

But I couldn't leave. I'm not sure exactly why. I'm not sure if it was curiosity, wanting to know what was going on, or seeing if I could help somehow. But I just couldn't get myself to leave. Instead I got a cup of coffee from my steady every day coffee cart guy, and walked back south, to an open area about 6 blocks from the towers. I found myself back in a crowd of people who perhaps also couldn't get themselves to leave.

We stood there watching a scene that my eyes told me was real, but my brain told me had to be a movie. We stood there discussing how this could have happened, who could have done this. We stood there sharing information, as someone with a radio was telling us the Pentagon was just hit. We stood there feeling helpless as from that distance we could clearly see people hanging out of the windows waving their hands, some piece of cloth, their clothes, anything to try to ask for help. We stood there in horror with hands over our mouths as we saw multiple people make the decision to jump.

While I was in this crowd, I struggled with the decision of whether I could do anything. At the time I had an active EMT certification, and while I hadn't practiced in a year and a half, I knew that I could perform basic functions. So I would start walking closer to the towers, thinking that perhaps I could help. But then I would look up at the magnitude of what was going on and wonder how much I could really do when I knew there were emergency personnel all across the city already responding. Since 9 am you heard constant sirens heading south. So then I would walk back north to the open area I was standing in before. But then I would see the people desperately waving from the windows, and I would start walking south again.

I probably did this back and forth two times or so and had returned to the open area. What I heard next is something I will never forget. It was this low guttural rumbling sound. It started out really softly at first, like a whisper. It was such an unfamiliar sound that everyone was looking around trying to see where it was coming from. I then looked up to see that it was the sound of the first tower collapsing. Since we were about 6 blocks away, people really started to panic, some were screaming, and most were running north.

Thinking back, one thing I learned about myself is that I am pretty calm in the most stressful situations. People were screaming and running around me, but my thought process was more like "Oh, maybe I should walk north now?". Or maybe I wasn't calm, maybe I was just dense? I don't know, but I stood there for a bit looking at the huge smoke cloud that was now rising from where the first tower stood, looking at a smoke cloud that was starting to expand out. It took a police officer waving his arms and frantically yelling at us to head north for me to put some speed to my walk.

On my walk north, I stopped at Canal Street and remember looking to the left and right, to see an incredible stream of thousands of people pouring into the streets and sidewalks, all heading north. I also distinctly remember seeing one woman who was so distraught that she was sitting on the sidewalk, hysterically crying. It was comforting to see two strangers tell her that she had to keep walking, help her back up, and give her a bottle of water.

During my walk, there were incredible lines at the few pay phones since all the cell phones were down. I remember seeing 30-40 people in line at some pay phones. I stood in one of the lines for a little bit, but then quickly decided it wasn't worth it and kept walking north. This was about when I marveled at the fact that I had made the unlikely decision to change my shoes that morning. There was no way I would have been able to walk so far if I had my original shoes on. There were tons of women around me who were walking barefoot with their cute shoes in their hands. Some manicure/pedicure places along the way were giving out those foam flip flops you get when you get a pedicure and a number of women were wearing those.

I got to midtown around 12:30 pm, and headed for the place where I had interned the previous fall. My cell phone was still not working, and mainly I wanted to get hold of a land line so I could call my family. I stepped into my old office and called my dad's office. I knew that my mom and sister would gather there with my dad to wait for me to contact them. Now I mentioned before how I had been pretty calm this whole entire time. While I teared up as I saw people in the windows of the towers cry for help or jump out, I hadn't really cried yet. But talking to my family, I guess I could just let it all go, and I just totally broke down.

I stayed at that office for a while, as everyone I used to work with wanted to hear what I had seen. They also wanted to make sure I was ok and that I got something to eat. I left around 2 pm, and headed for the subway which was running again. I remember getting on the good old A train and seeing folks in my subway car who were covered in gray dust. I also realized that I still heard sirens in my head, which I had heard constantly since 9 am. I knew that I couldn't be hearing sirens down in the subway, and I was a little concerned about that, but hoped it would go away.

When I got back on campus, the word had spread that they were calling for volunteers. At this time, we all figured that there would be thousands of injured people. Because there was a medical, dental, nursing, and public health school on campus, along with the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, everyone mobilized to help out. I went to sign up and list my skills as well as my cell phone number. I remember seeing how long the list of volunteers were. Little did we know how few survivors there would be.

Now that semester, I had class every Tuesday night. I figured oh, given everything that had happened, it must be canceled right? NYU, other colleges across the city, colleges all across the country ended up canceling classes that day and many the next day as well. Nope, not Columbia. I had class that Tuesday night. I remember sitting there in my Epidemiology class not listening to a word, replaying everything from that day in my head.

Soon after class let out, the phone calls started. That first night, my closest friends were finally able to get their calls through. The next day, it was friends and relatives who I didn't talk to as often who called, followed up the subsequent day by long lost friends and international relatives who I hadn't spoken to in forever. It blew my mind how many people ended up contacting me, and I realized then how big this was and how much it touched everyone.

That night I lay in my bed in the dark, watching the constant TV coverage. It was difficult not to just start sobbing. It was strange to see on TV what I had seen first hand, and I started to wonder what I had seen first hand vs what I had seen on TV. I finally realized around 2 am that I needed to stop and that I should go to bed. As I was trying to fall asleep, I could still hear the sirens in my head. I thought to myself, "Seriously? Am I going crazy? This better go away tomorrow!". Luckily the sirens did leave my head the next morning. About two days later I was meeting up with friends for dinner and I freaked out because I heard sirens again, even though I didn't see anything. I turned to grab my friend's arm and asked, "Oh my gosh please tell me you hear that too", then two seconds later an ambulance passed by on the street. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Starting that morning and for days afterwards, there were military fighter jets flying over the city. After seeing the first one, you knew the military jets were there. But every time I heard another one fly by, I'd tense up and remember what it was like to hear and see the second plane hit. The reaction was instinctive. Seeing the fighter jets protecting the city was quite a vision. This wasn't some air show. It was real. We were in a war zone of sorts. Also for months afterwards there were military personnel with automatic weapons all over the city, especially in the subways.

No one was allowed south of Houston Street for a while afterwards. Houston St became a spontaneous memorial of sorts.

My co-workers and I had to work in a temporary office in midtown. When we were allowed to go back to our offices about three weeks later, I remember tasting a metal taste at the back of my throat from the air. My eyes, which are pretty sensitive, were itchy. People who worked downtown were then allowed south of Houston Street to gather stuff from our offices. This was when I had the chance then to walk down to the site, which was still a complete disaster area. I remember looking into the storefront window of a jewelry store that faced the WTC towers and seeing a display case that was completely empty except for a thick layer of dust. Realizing what that dust was, I cried.

The other thing I remember immediately after 9/11 was the thousands of flyers posted all over the city, from people looking for their loved ones. These were people holding out hope that their loved ones were one of the very few who had somehow made it out alive and were in a hospital somewhere. It was heartbreaking to see these flyers all over the city. It was difficult not to tear up.

I think about those who lost loved ones. I was so incredibly lucky that no one I knew died that day. Soon after 9/11 the New York times started running a new section called Portraits of Grief. It gave a face, a story, a history to the number declared dead. I read these portraits religiously, eventually buying the book when it was compiled.

When I think about the families, I think about not only how devastating it must be to first have lost someone, but how excruciatingly difficult it must be to have lost your loved one on such a public tragedy, one that gets so much media coverage. To be haunted by the constant images of the towers being hit and collapsing, knowing that you are watching your loved ones die... I can't even imagine.

I especially think a lot about seeing the 5 or 6 people who were forced to jump from the smoke and the heat and I wonder who they were. What were their stories? Where were they from? Who did they leave behind? I've also mentioned several times hearing constant sirens heading south that morning. I've wondered how many of those emergency personnel I saw made it out alive. How many of those fire fighters and police personnel I saw driving south were in the towers when they fell?

9/11 was such a historical event, that everyone has a story. Everyone remembers where they were that day. I've verbally told a condensed version of my story many times when people talk about where they were that day. Recalling all of these details and writing my story down, it's almost like I can feel again my emotions from that day and the subsequent weeks. I can hear the constant sirens from that day. I can see the billowing cloud of smoke as the first tower fell. I can remember the smell of the burning metal and how it tasted in the back of my throat. I close my eyes and I'm right there again, ten years later. I wonder if it'll still be as vivid in another 10 years.

There is no way I could ever forget. For me that day is the closest that I have been to that much death, pain, and evil. But if there's anything I take from it, and what I also remember each 9/11, is to be grateful for what you have and to try to live your life fully.

Pictures below are from Ground Zero about 3 weeks after 9/11


Friday, September 9, 2011


Things have been a bit crazy in the last week or so, which will only increase in the next couple of months. My last day of my old job was last Friday (huzzah) and I start my new job in Seattle on the 19th. I'll start by commuting to Seattle weekly before making the final move sometime later in October or November. I'm currently in the craziness of getting my Chicago condo ready to put on the market.

I was in New Mexico this past extended weekend spending time with my best friend. It was interesting because for two days I ended up taking care of her 4 month old. I discovered what its like to play WoW with a baby! Even though I wasn't with the baby long, I definitely had the feeling of needing some escape after the constant rotation of baby sleeps, baby eats, baby needs to be entertained, baby needs a diaper change. So when the baby would go down for a nap, I'd log on and have enough time to do a couple of quests.

Drop wise in raids, I got the healing helm off Beth a week or so ago. Perhaps my luck with FL drops is changing! The guild went back to Cho'gall on Sunday night without me and I was told that the pally priest warlock token dropped yet again. I swear, we're cursed! Seriously its the only token we've only had drop! I'm not sure what we need to do to change our luck. Pray to the loot gods?

Guild wise Jess and I were talking about our guild and our kids (the guildies). I started talking about wondering what would happen if Jess and I weren't around to lead a raid or if we were to quit the game. We started discussing who would take over GM duties. I think we came to the conclusion that we are not sure that anyone else would want the job. Thus we realized that we are leading the guild not out of any sort of ability or skill, but out of default. :)