Latest Happenings

January 28, 2008

I haven’t posted in a while, but things have been busy. Here are the highlights:

  • Zyrtec freaking rules. Once I got off of the prednisone the doctor put me on (which completely dried out my sinuses, making it impossible to sing), I took some Zyrtec and it worked like a charm. I went over to the den of cats and didn’t even sneeze once the entire night.
  • The Susquehanna Chorale had our Rodgers and Hammerstein concert this past weekend. It was hard work, but a lot of fun. Both performances sold out at the Forum (1800 seats).
  • Classes are going fairly well… busy busy busy!

Fucking Cats

January 18, 2008

Yeah, they look all cute and lovable. Until they make my sinuses explode. I’ve been heading over to a friend’s house once a week to play some games, and his cats are killing me. Hopefully not literally, but I have a severe allergic reaction every time that Claritin seems helpless against. I’m not exactly sure what to do, other than call my doctor and try to get a prescription for something stronger. Any suggestions?

First Day

January 14, 2008

Today was the first day of classes, and I’m feeling pretty good. My classes seem somewhat lively, though I have close to 100 brand new names to (try to) learn.

It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks, what with the semester starting up and a concert right around the corner. Once that’s over, though, I’m looking forward to settling into my new routine.

I was approached today by my department chair and asked if I would mind picking up another section of Calculus 1, giving me a 4 credit overload. I’ve been asked to do overloads in the past, and I always say no. However, I’ve sometimes felt guilty about this, since I know that people only get asked to do overloads when the department is in a bind. I don’t want to be known as the person who never helps out, but at the same time, I really don’t like doing them. I don’t really need the money, and this would greatly increase my stress during the Spring, which is usually the semester when I get to relieve some stress and work on side projects.

So I tentatively agreed to do the overload, but after thinking about it for a while, decided to try to get out of it. Eventually the chair found someone else to do it, but I do still feel a bit guilty. I offered to absorb some of the extra students into my existing section (even though that would mean more grading for no extra pay), but the chair felt that would send a bad message to the administration. I guess there’s no way to avoid being known as the guy who never wants to do overloads, since that’s 100% accurate.

Traveling to Conferences is Fun and Profitable

January 6, 2008

Or not.

So the Joint Mathematics Meetings are going on right now in San Diego, and here I am in Chicago’s lovely O’Hare airport. I’ve been in Chicago since around 8pm last night, when my connecting flight to San Diego got cancelled.

I was told by the customer service representative that there were no seats available on flights leaving today, and that while I would be on standby for a flight today, that the best they could guarantee for me was a flight leaving Monday morning. Since my return flight is scheduled for Tuesday morning, this didn’t seem like a very good option. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t especially want to spend the day at O’Hare bouncing from gate to gate hoping to get a seat on a flight.

To their credit, the airline put me up in a very nice hotel last night, but when I got to the airport today, things got interesting. And not in a good way.

I waited on line at the ticket counter and told the representative that if it looked like I wasn’t going to get on the first flight out to San Diego this morning, that there wasn’t much point in my going to San Diego at all, and could I just get a flight back to Harrisburg? At this point, he told me two things:

  1. A flight to Harrisburg had left 5 minutes earlier, and all the other flights to Harrisburg today were full.
  2. I was booked on a flight to San Diego, through Minneapolis, but I had showed up to the airport too late to make it. Now, I had never been told about this flight, so I’m not sure who booked me on it, nor how I was supposed to arrive on time for a flight I was unaware of.

Needless to say, I was not happy with this development. Given that I (apparently) could not fly into Harrisburg today, I asked if I could get to Philadelphia. From there I could take a train to Harrisburg. Not at all convenient, but still better than sitting around O’Hare for a day. So I got ticketed onto a flight to Philly.

Later, while waiting for the Philly flight, I figured it couldn’t hurt to talk to a different customer service rep. This one seemed a lot more sympathetic to my situation, and actually managed to get me on a Harrisburg flight. I’m still waiting for that flight to take off (it still says “On Time” but I don’t want to get my hopes up). Wish me luck!

How I Spent New Year’s

January 1, 2008

Playing Warcraft.

I get a lot of ribbing from some of my friends about how much I play Warcraft, even to the point where some say that I’m addicted. I’m not sure where the line is between “something fun that I like to do, and do often” to “something that I feel compelled to do or cannot keep myself from doing.” I certainly don’t feel compelled to play, though I have in the past. I think that over time I’ve found a place in the game where I can play whenever I want and have a good time doing it, which wasn’t always the case.

I’ve been playing WoW since March 2005, just a few months after the game was released. In that time, I’ve created over a dozen characters on various servers.

Server #1 (Horde) was the server that my friend was on when he encouraged me to get into the game. After a few false starts with classes I didn’t much enjoy, I settled on Shaman (I liked being able to kill monsters and heal myself). We created a guild with a few random strangers and people we knew in real life. At some point we were approached to join a raiding guild. At this point raiding seemed like some distant impossible idea. People like me didn’t go to Molten Core. It just didn’t happen. And as it turns out, it really didn’t happen. This guild got through the first 4 bosses of ZG, but that’s as far as we got. We probably could have made a bit of progress in Molten Core if we had had the people, but we just weren’t big enough to field 40 man raids, and the pool of available players was relatively small. We made the decision to reroll on a different server (this was before paid character transfers).

Server #2 (Horde) I once again rolled a shaman (Orc this time, since I could never remember to use War Stomp on my Tauren). The server had opened up only about a month before, so we were able to recruit lots of people, and the guild was fairly successful, eventually clearing Molten Core and making attempts on the first boss of the next 40-man zone, Blackwing Lair. However, the first boss in that place was really rough, and we spent a lot of time making very little progress. The real life friends I still played with (together with some of the friends from the first server) had a chat channel where we hung out, but also bitched about people we didn’t like. I ended up being an officer in this guild, which was a lot more stress than it was worth. The guild leader liked to micromanage and obsess over stuff that was really unimportant. I became really disaffected in the guild, frustrated with our lack of progress and bad leadership. So I decided to quit that guild and apply to a guild that was far more advanced in content. Unfortunately, I didn’t really think this decision out. The new guild had much more strict attendance and loot policies, and was overall just a lot less fun. I was seeing new content, but the price was that I didn’t get to play the game with my friends. It wasn’t a good trade-off. Eventually I rejoined the original guild, but I had burned a lot of bridges, and it didn’t last. Some of the friends from the angry chat channel decided that with the expansion coming out soon, we would reroll again (and why not, roll Alliance this time).

Server #3 (Alliance) So we reroll Alliance. I still wanted to play shaman, but took a mage to 60 while we waited for the expansion to come out (before Alliance gained the ability to play shamans). The server we were on was lightly populated, with a pretty stagnant economy, but we were able to recruit some good people. I was the guild leader this time, and if I thought being an officer was stressful, being the GL was horrible. Eventually I came to the realization that I just wasn’t having fun anymore and quit the game. The toughest part of quitting the game was finding something to do with my time (this was Summer 2007). I spent a lot of money on PC games and an Xbox 360, but nothing really replaced the instant gratification of killing monsters and getting loot in WoW. After talking with the two real-life friends who had been playing since the beginning, I decided to start playing again. Sadly, they had since transferred to another server, so I ponied up the $25 and transferred my shaman.

Server #4 (Alliance) At this point, these two guys were in a similar kind of raiding guild to the one I had been in on Server #2. I really wasn’t interested in that, and I struggled with the frustration of not getting to play with them when they had scheduled raids. I was surprised by the high quality of the pick-up groups I was getting into, however. This server had a much more active economy and larger population than any server I had been on previously. I got lots of requests for guild invites, since Alliance shamans were still somewhat of a novelty. In a random pick-up group, I got asked to join a guild, and on a whim I accepted. This guild was clearing almost all of Karazhan, which was exciting, and seemed pretty casual. Eventually my friends’ guild fell apart, and I invited them to join my new guild, and we’ve been here ever since. The guild is still pretty casual, though we still have our chat channel where we bitch and moan. The guild is making very good progression, and I’m having fun. At the same time, I’m making sure to put real-life fun before online fun, so D&D games or Rock Band sessions take precedence over raids.

Holidays Over

January 1, 2008

Well, it’s January 1st, 2008. Happy New Year! I’m pretty happy that the holiday season is over. Unlike my friend, I actually like winter (with the exception of ice storms that knock my power out). But the forced family interaction of the holidays just gets on my nerves. I suppose that ultimately I’m a misanthrope, even when it comes to people I love. This is probably the greatest contributing factor to my troubled relationship history; I’ve yet to find a woman who is OK with my not wanting to be around her half the time.

I’ve long wrestled with the conflict between this misanthropy and my propensity towards depression and loneliness. It’s only in recent years, with financial stability, a stable job I love doing, and a small but close group of friends that I’ve become really content. Sure, I’ll bitch about day-to-day things, but I really am happy. It’s kinda weird, actually. In a good way.

Benazir Bhutto assassinated

December 27, 2007

In case you hadn’t heard.

I’m certainly no expert on Middle East politics, but this seems like a pretty major setback for the region. Bleh.