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Archive for March, 2011

((This is the follow-up to Shunk))

Dorri’tow watched suspiciously as Ambika handed over yet another teddy bear shaped cookie to Fenniel. She had been watching this strange doling out of snacks the entire time they were crawling around the dank tunnels filled with naga and their ilk. Neither Ghaar or Verdus seemed to have noticed anything peculiar about the usually diffident priestess providing treats to the Sin’dorei hunter.

“These cookies are good, did you make them?” Fenniel continued munching contentedly.

The troll priestess, Ambika, answered without any signs of irritation, “yes.”

Fenniel smiled in return. “You’re a good baker.”

Meanwhile, Dorri stared at the priestess suspiciously. “You cook?” The paladin muttered angrily to herself as she scowled at everyone around, “why does everyone cook?” The “but me” part of that complaint went unsaid.

“They are diet cookies.”

The announcement from the priestess caused Fenniel to blink hesitantly. “What?”

Ambika continued, overriding Fenniel’s question, “or, at least, not make the problem any worse.”

The hunter seemed confused by Ambika’s words. “What problem,” he asked.

Fenniel was distracted from Ambika glaring at his prominent beer belly by Dorri’tow poking him.

“Fork over a cookie!”

“I don’t have any.” Before Dorri could snarl at him, the hunter quickly pointed at Ambika, “She does!”

Dorri’tow turned to look at Ambika and the priestess calmly held out a cookie. “Knock yourself out.”

Still looking suspiciously at the priestess, Dorri started nibbling on one of the cookie’s feet.

“I still don’t understand what the problem is.” Fenniel said. Behind him, the orc shaman, Ghaar was watching the murloc minions walk their patrols in the distance.

“What? That you’re fat?” Dorri asked.

“Oh.” The hunter hung his head dejectedly.

“Hells,” Dorri cursed at him, causing him to slump down a little more. “Don’t start that!” She growled at him in frustration.

“You’re not fat, Fenn.” Verdus said. The druid’s voice was filled with quiet patience. Fenniel smiled up at Verdus, warmed by the words.

“He is too. If he wasn’t he wouldn’t have gotten stuck.”

“Keltyr got stuck.” Verdus pointed out the obvious hole in her logic, but Dorri was having none of it.

“That was armor!” Dorri protested with a fierce scowl at the offending Tauren.

“He is well above the ideal weight for a person of his height and build.” Ambika spoke with authority, but the druid and paladin were too deep in their argument to pay attention.

“You think mail doesn’t take up any space?” The Tauren druid began to raise his voice to match Dorri’s.

“Keltyr is not fat!”

“Exactly!” Verdus looked smug. “And neither is Fenn.” He took a few steps back as Dorri raised her axe, narrowed her eyes and took a few steps towards him.

“Can we handle this social issue after we finish clearing this place out? The gilgoblins are laughing at us.” Ghaar tried to distract the rest of the group to no avail.

Equally ignored was Fenniel, still slouching dejectedly. “I wear mail armor.”

Still glaring at the Tauren, Dorri’tow muttered under her breath about steak and diets. Finally she turned to stare at the goblins which were standing at a bend in the cavern, chattering in their high pitched language and pointing at them.

“Oh please, as if you have ever even seen a steak!”

Goblins forgotten, Dorri whirled back around to face Verdus. “What is that supposed to mean?”

To the side, Fenniel dug a bit of cake out of his pack and handed it to Ghaar. The shaman started to eat with resignation. They were not going to go anywhere while the big-haired paladin and Verdus settled their dispute.

“It means, Dorri, that you could do with a slice of cake sometime. Or maybe a sandwich.”

“Ugh,” Dorri looked at Fenniel as she spoke, looking a bit green. “Don’t say cake. I’ve seen where Fenniel keeps cake.”

“In a pocket?” Ghaar asked, still eating. Ambika refused to look at any of them, as the argument continued.

“Loincloth!” Dorri shouted.

“That was just one time!” Fenniel protested, shoving his glasses back up his nose.

“It was disgusting!” Dorri pointed her finger in her mouth and made retching noises.

Ghaar looked at Fenniel oddly and then at the cake he was not eating.

“It was my wedding.” Fenniel told the shaman, sheepishly. “It was the mushrooms.”

“Oh.” The orc shoved the rest of the cake in his mouth, without a care. “That’s different.”

“It was disgusting and just wrong!” Dorri glared at all of them.

“Seriously, eat a sandwich, woman.” Growling, Dorri snatched another cookie out of Ambika’s hand, and stuffed it in her mouth. She chewed as loudly as she could and then flashed the contents of her mouth at the annoying Tauren. “Really? You’re trying to prove me wrong with diet cookies? Really?” Verdus sighed deeply, as Ambika pinched the bridge of her nose. Dorri continued to glare at the Tauren. “Let’s just kill some things, `kay?”

“Fine!” Dorri whipped around, her axe inches away from Fenniel’s face as she turned. As she stormed towards the amused gilgoblins, she muttered constantly about how she really did eat.

Later, as they gathered at the stone circle where the Earthern Ring shaman had created portals and Ghaar took his leave, four of them checked their equipment one last time. It would not do to have an unseen gilgoblin poisoned dart prick someone when they were far from help.

A look of sudden resolve crossed the Sin’dorei hunter’s face. “So, why are they diet cookies?”

“Cause you are fat.” Dorri’tow repeated, with an irritated glare that caused Fenniel to hang his head.

“He’s not fat!” Verdus loomed over the paladin, frowning. “Stop that!”

“He is overweight.” Ambika said.

At the same time Dorri said, “He’s pudgy.”

Verdus agreed, “a little, yes.” He was reluctant to give the paladin even that much agreement. “But there is a big difference between that and fat.”

“Are you sure?” Dorri asked the Tauren.

“Yes.”

Ignoring the debate about what constituted fat, who was fat (Hallis Boarhorder for example), and how Fenniel was not fat, Ambika addressed Fenniel directly. “The cookies will take more effort to digest than the calories it will provide.”

Fenniel looked at the priestess and then his other two friends who continued to argue. He shrugged and said sheepishly, “I was just asking, you know, what’s the difference between normal and diet cookies.”

At this point, Verdus threw up his hands and said, “anyway, pleasure as always. I’m heading home now.”

Everyone gave their good-byes to the druid, even the grumpy paladin.

And then Fenniel piped up again, “I still don’t know what’s in the cookies.”

Grinning from ear to ear, Dorri leaned forward to speak into Fenniel’s ear. She kept an eye on Ambika as she spoke, “Probably something gross, like slugs or the bones of gnome babies.”

Unaffected by Dorri’tow’s obvious ploy to rankle her, Ambika asked, “How do they taste?” Fenniel frowned. “You don’t ask questions about the soup the bartender feeds you. I don’t see why you would care what is in my cookies.”

“He doesn’t call it diet soup.”

“No he doesn’t.” The troll priestess smirked.

Off to the side, Dorri said, “Because the bartender can’t burn out his mind with a look, maybe?” She shrugged. “Just a guess.”

“I’ve never rocketed into his ribs either.” Fenniel flushed in embarrassment as he spoke.

“They are just cookies.” Ambika took a deep breath and frowned. To Dorri’s disappointment, however, the prickly little troll priestess did nothing more than that. She did not even glower. “They will not kill you.”

Looking from the troll to Fenniel, Dorri came to the conclusion that neither of them was going to give her the satisfaction she wanted. Besides, she did not want Fenniel going back to hiding on his sister’s couch. “Look,” She said as sincerely as she could, “I have never known Ambika to lie. Hedge around the truth a little, but never lie. If she says they are cookies, they are cookies.”

Fenniel slipped his hand into his pocket and finally just nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay!” Dorri clapped him hard on the shoulder, smothering a laugh as he stumbled forward. The three of them parted for the evening.

Accommodations in the hastily constructed fort in the twilight highlands were small, dark and crowded, which meant that Dorri and Keltyr tended to spend most of their downtime out on the ramparts. They had even taken quarters that opened onto them, just for the extra space.

In the faint afternoon sun, Dorri took a brush to her armor, seeking to rid it of dirt that Keltyr was certain did not exist. When she was done scrubbing, there would be the polishing. Thinking about watching her do all that work made him hungry.

“Hey, I’m going to get a sandwich. Do you want one?” Dorri’tow whirled on him in a fury. Kel knew by the look on her face that he had said something wrong. He did not have time to avoid the fist that hit him right in the face. “Hey!” He said as she stormed past him. “What was that for?”

“I do so eat!” She snarled back and slammed the door behind her.

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Biological Taxonomy

I went to college twice.

The first time, when I was seventeen was in 1988. Like most people who studied biology, I was taught the five kingdom method of biological classification as proposed by Robert Harding Whittaker in 1969.

The five Kingdoms were:

Monera – cellular organisms that are prokaryotic, that is they had no walled area for their genetic material (they have no nucleus)

Protista – Single Celled eukaryotic organisms or multi-cellular colonies that do not have differentiated tissues. Or, in less jargon, they are single celled organisms that have a walled area for their genetic material (A nucleus) that can live together but do not specialize. (Protists don’t grow up to be policemen or fireman or farmers. Each one of them does all the things)

Plantae – Plants!

Fungi – Fungi (not great at parties, really)

Animalia – Animals

At the time, I remember there was a huge debate over how blue-green algae was classified. Since all living things were classified based on their physical attributes compared to other living things, there were all kinds of odd things. At the time, I found this fascinating as well as frustrating. Biology had a deserved reputation for being somewhat fluid. Classifications could change based on observed criteria, or dissections or a number of other things. Since we compared physical traits, the more we observed the more comparisons we could make.
And then, I dropped out of school and put college out of my mind for fifteen years.

When I started back to school in the early `00s, it was a fairly easy decision to parlay my prior college experience into skipping some basic classes (like basic biology! I spent an entire year dissecting all kinds of things and I was sure I could go without the lingering smell of formaldehyde for an entire school year). It had been about fifteen years, but the basics didn’t change.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I knew I was in trouble the moment I showed up to virology and saw this chart:

What the hell was that and what the hell were Archaea? What was 16s rRNA that was used for determining where something is in the tree?

Now there were three domains:

Bacteria – There were part of Monera before. Prokaryotic organisms with few or none membrane-bound organelles. They have a distinctive break from Archaea in evolution.

Archaea – These were part of Monera before, there were considered rather odd types of bacteria with no nucleus (prokaryotic) and without other membrane-bound organelles. (Organelles, as you might imagine refer to things that might be analogous to organs in your body. Things like Mitochondria ( which produce a source of chemical energy) and Chloroplasts (which plants use to convert sunlight to energy).) By genetic analysis, Archaea are closer to Eukaryotic organisms than Bacteria. Just look at the tree!

Eucaryota – All Eukaryotic organisms got all thrown together. So four of the five Kingdoms I learned about the first time in school (Protista, Plantae, Fungi and Animalia) are all lumped together.

But how do we get here? I still don’t know what 16s rRNA is! I’m getting to that, I promise.

Next, we’ll talk about Carl Woese and rRNA and how he changed how biologists look at everything!

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1) In the past week, I have had three maybes for my Friday raid.

I want to raid. I like to raid. Filling three slots, two of them healers and one of them my co raid-leader does not make for calm Pill times. No worries, I will muscle through. Just /flailing some.

2) Still not sure what to say about the whole Rift vs WoW thing. Still worried that if I say I don’t like something, or that I am hesitant it will blow up in my face.

I do not want to be left behind in Rift, mostly because I do not want to treat this game like a solo game. So, I have to go and push a little at leveling. I have done two dungeons now, but most of it is pretty hit or miss.

Here’s the big thing though, I would much rather be playing WoW. I really like WoW. I like how it looks. I like how it plays. I understand the story and lore and the complexity. I don’t get that with Rift. Maybe I will, but the game does not live for me yet. That makes it really hard for me to get into the heads of my characters. I sort of understand the older two. I have their personalities, but I do not know who they are. And even while playing I am not getting a sense of the world. It still seems very dry to me.

There are a lot of mechanics in the game, but the world is still not all there. Mechanics are just mechanics. I need to game to live. It’s not there yet. It has potential, but so did Warhammer. At least there is more of interest to me than there was in LotRo, which completely seemed bleh to me.

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I’m just toying with some things here.

The admiral coughed softly until he was recognized by De’kado Khan.

“Is there something I can help you with, admiral?” The admiral was a great deal smaller than the towering Kravior warlord, but he showed no signs of being intimidated by the nonhuman.

“Would it be possible to speak to you about a rather important matter than has just come up?” The man’s words were as neat and tidy as his clothing. “Alone.” He looked at the to Sisstani bodyguards that languished in the stateroom in feline repose.

“Of course.” De’kado looked at the bodyguards and they removed themselves without protest.

The moment the door was closed, the Admiral began to pace across the small stateroom. “That woman is back!” He gestured forcefully at the closed door. “Not one minute after I allowed her back on board, she began to order me and my men about! We are here to assist you. How many times do I have to explain that to her.” Suddenly the admiral stopped and put his hand above his head. “I’ve had it up to here with her! I’m not even that tall!” The small man shook with emotion as he lowered his hand, slightly embarrassed by his sudden outburst.

“Would you like me to deal with her, Mujhar?” De’kado spoke with soft authority.

“I would be humbly grateful for your assistance.” He bowed precisely to reflect just how deep his gratitude would be.

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Feeling ferrety

Kinda a meh evening. Broken computers, forgotten finals and the inability (and admittedly fear) to admit to people that I need something from them.

Feeling all tangled up and afraid of being rebuffed again for saying anything. Plus too jittery to be able to focus on things that should be done, like chores.

Idiot eyesight is not helping anything. Even crafting isn’t helping tonight.

Ugh. I will probably hate this post in the morning.

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About two years ago I started a not exactly regular thing on my blog, called the annoyed list.

It had me growling about my co-workers and going off about things in WoW

Today I thought I would bring it back.

So, the return to the list edition!

1) Spending four hours fixing Quickbooks

Half of my day was spent fixing this damn thing. Time I could have used doing a ton of things. Thanks a ton.

2) Generally WoW apathy.

I still like WoW. I still have stories to tell. And well, the whole RP falling apart thing is probably completely on my shoulders.

3) Tired of seeing blurry.

It’s getting better, but it still frustrates me.

But, as I read over the annoyed list I saw one thing about my leg having swollen up to 22 inches. It’s now gone down to less than 19! The first time it has actually started to lose volume in more than three years. It’s not fantastic progress, but it is some.

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Still struggling

But I am writing and I have some other ideas. So, nothing amazing here just yet. But expect to see both some WoW Fic and some exploring of world building.

Anyway. I am going to go poke at Rift and drink some tea.

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