Thursday, June 29, 2023

You Know You've Been Writing for a Long Time When... spend hours editing a document that should have been properly reviewed by someone else.

Yes, this was a document for work, and there were work things attached to this document that I'm not at liberty to discuss. However, a cursory glance of the doc told me that it needed help.


And I've been spending hours on this thing, and I'm close to halfway done, just trying to deconstruct what the author was aiming for and how to fix it. 

The funny thing is, I'm not mad at the author for the state of the document.* Who I am grumpy at, however, are the people who reviewed it before me who said "Yep, looks good!" and passed it on.

Who knew that all these years of writing ol' Parallel Context would come in handy like this?

*Again, for reasons I can't discuss.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Meme Monday: Vacation Memes

Okay, I don't take vacations very often.

The reasons for my lack of interest in travelling places are pretty diverse, but the single biggest reason for a long time was that we couldn't afford to go on vacation somewhere. A couple of times we camped via car camping to save money, but the sweltering Midwestern heat did us no favors with the "great outdoors". 

I suppose we could go on vacation now, but I'm at that stage of my career where going on vacation is actually more trouble than it's worth. I have to get ahead of the pile of crap that is in my to do list just so I can leave and not be pestered by somebody --and yes, that has happened several times before*-- and then when I come back there's three times the amount of work waiting for me to deal with than if I'd just stuck around.

You tell 'em, Ron.
From Parks and Recreation,
via Pinterest.

There's also the issue of me working around off days from getting kids back and forth from college, and now all of my little extra doctors' visits, so I've just kind of looked at what vacation days I have and take a day or two off here and there. 

I do look at those people who could simply take a week or two off on release of a game they've been waiting for --or an expansion-- and wonder how they could pull that off. I mean, there were so many people who were going to go balls to the wall** when TBC Classic and then Wrath Classic were released, and now Diablo 4 has generated the same interest:

And oh look, there's a Zelda thread about pretty
much the same thing. From Reddit.

Still, that doesn't mean that I can't appreciate a good vacation meme, so here's a few to tickle your funny bone...

The few times we have gone on vacation,
this has been my wife, wanting us to make
sure we get to the place on time.
From Pinterest.

But this... This is me.
From Someecards.

Alas, this is me as well. After
over 20 years of working from 
home, I have issues not thinking
about work. From quickmeme.

And then it's all over.
"It must have been love, but it's over nowwww...."
From Memegenerator.

*And this was done by people who should have known better. They thought that my being "on vacation" meant I just wasn't visible on the company's Microsoft Teams. When they asked me to get on the network to look up something on a server, they were genuinely shocked when I told them I was 3 hours away from my laptop and was going to take this discussion up with their boss when I got back.

**Yes, it's more than just the title of a song by Accept.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Friday Night... Repairs

I think I jinxed my questing buddy.

She logged in to raid last night and... Wrath Classic barfed and wouldn't let her in. Multiple times.

So after a lot of debugging by disabling addons and other tips that the raid lead was providing --and weren't working-- she decided to take drastic measures and uninstall/reinstall Wrath Classic.

While she was waiting, I kept her spirits up with some pics inspired by what was going on in LFG Chat in our Classic Era cluster.

I found this on Redbubble:

My oldest wants this.
Because Night Elf Hunters, you know.

And then, because I was curious, I found a companion to that one:

I'm not so sure I'd want to, uh,
advertise about that fact.
Again, from Redbubble.

Right about then, I stumbled onto a pic from Reddit that Sam Hogg had created as a commission, and I about fell over:

This is the Artstation version.

"OMG I FOUND CARD!!!" I practically shouted in Discord.

I have no idea who the hell the Draenei is, but that is Cardwyn to a tee. Well, outside of the fact that she would more likely not be in her robes, but still...

Whomever got that as a birthday present got something priceless.


Shortly after that, my questing buddy finished with the Wrath Classic installation, but still she couldn't login. So I took the data she could give me --her laptop's basic info (processor, memory, etc.) and the error code-- and did some quick research. Luckily for me, I'd been wrestling with this exact problem on my son's old laptop before it gave up the ghost, so I knew where to look for the legacy AMD FX Series drivers. I found the one for her laptop, gave her the link, and waited.

And hoped.

...and it worked.

She was able to get in finally, and it turned out the raid waited for her while they filled out the rest of the slots. But since she'd uninstalled/reinstalled the game, all of her addons were gone. So... she had to reinstall and reconfigure all of those too.

But the worst part of the fight was over. She was back online.

Now the raid under the Friday Night Lights can go on.

In the meantime I'm going to admire that artwork some more while fishing. And listen to Todd Rundgren:

EtA: Corrected a grammar problem.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

It All Blurs Together

There are times when "I hit it with my axe!" is the best way forward.
--Me (probably)

"I hit it with my axe! Wooo!!"
--Youngest mini-Red, in our 2-3x annual 1e AD&D game, as she in turn high fived one of our fellow party members. Yes, both women play Dwarven Fighters. Are you surprised?

If you listen to people talk about Retail WoW after having been away for a while* you can get absolutely lost in all of the systems and designs in the modern game. 

You don't say....

Returning to Classic WoW as a refuge from the complexity is an illusion, as those devoted to the min/max culture brought that back with them to Classic where it has morphed into its own culture in the Wrath Classic servers.**

Every time I think about trying out Retail, I read some blog posts or watch a YouTube video and --story complaints notwithstanding-- I get lost when people start talking about the various systems in game. When I also realize that unless I want to pay Blizzard extra money I'd have to go through Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands to get to Dragonflight, I just kind of shudder at all of the complexity those two expacs introduced. 

If you've been playing the game straight through, that's one thing. After all, the systems and whatnot are gradually added over time. It's when you go away for years and then come back do you realize just how crazy things have gotten. 


There was a time when I was the one who preferred the complex over the "easy to learn and hard to master" method of game design. Back in the early 90s, when I was knee deep in games such as Squad Leader, War and Peace, and Battle of the Bulge, an old high school acquaintance invited me to playtest a boardgame he and some mutual acquaintances were working on. 

This was the sort of thing that I played
back then, which is Victory Games' Ambush!
a solitaire WW2 wargame.
From Jonathan Arnold of Board Game Geek.

Their game was set in the Star Trek universe, where up to three players were fighting over control of a specific doohickey using several starships each. The three factions --Federation, Klingons, and Romulans***-- were pretty much equal in overall strength and movement.

"Is this like Star Fleet Battles?" I asked.

"No," my friend replied. "That's too complex. We're aiming more for Axis and Allies."

Okay, I thought. Let's give it a try.

The game had potential, but I felt that they lost something with the rules as simple as they were. "The various ships with their number rating is fine," I began, "but have you thought about two numbers, one for attack and one for defense? That'll allow you to have more and different types of starships out there."

"We're not doing any of that Avalon Hill bullshit," one of the team snapped back at me. "That crap is too hard and we want this to get a wide audience."

After that, I realized that they weren't really planning on taking my advice to heart, so I just kept it basic with some generally positive feedback and then found an excuse to leave rather early. 

The irony is that not only am I the one who prefers simple systems to more complex ones these days, the so-called "simple systems" found in WoW's Classic Era are far more complex than what I proposed back then. Computers have a habit of condensing complexity to manageable levels, after all.


Kirk: Galloping about the cosmos is a game for the young, Doctor.
Uhura: Now what is THAT supposed to mean?
--From Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan

That's not to say that complexity is bad by any means. If you know going in how complex things are, and if said complexity is presented well, the complexity isn't necessarily a problem. The thing is, if complexity is gradually added to over the course of years, you may not realize just how complex things had gotten until said complexity becomes overwhelming.

Or in my case, poking my nose into World of Warcraft after a decade away.

I like to use the Blood Elf starting areas up to and including The Ghostlands as a great way to introduce someone into the various systems of WoW --well, TBC-era WoW-- in a gradual fashion. The build up includes things such as timed events, escort quests, mobs with AoE damage, mobs that chain pull, and mobs that drop the "don't stand in the bad" stuff. In the end, you even have opportunities for grouping up for the two abomination elites as well as Dar'Khan Drathir, but along with everything else that got nerfed in Cataclysm those grouping opportunities were obliterated as well.**** That basic introduction carried my original toons all the way up to max level in original Wrath of the Lich King, because that foundation was utilized and built upon from the beginning. 

From what I've read, the brand new intro zone provided in Shadowlands (Exile's Reach) does a great job of providing a new player a way of learning the basics of WoW, but what ends up happening is that those basics get thrown out the window once you reach high enough level to hit the various expansions.

Not that people can't utilize the basics of "don't stand in the bad", but that you're not exposed to the systems found in the expacs until you reach those expacs.

Like, oh, say, Legion.

Or Shadowlands.

Or even Dragonflight.

Existing players may not notice it at all, or may even think it a new quirk of the current expansion, but players who had been away for years --or are new-- will notice. That wasn't always the case, as the systems found in TBC Classic and Wrath Classic --flying and membership in Scryers/Aldor being the notable exceptions-- are also found in Vanilla Classic.***** 

After a while, all that bait-and-switch complexity just blurs together and makes you feel like an idiot for not understanding it all. If that doesn't happen on its own, the loudmouth toxic aspects of the WoW community certainly will do that for you.

"LOL L2P noob!"
From Memebase via Pinterest.


The thing is, sometimes all you want to do is hit an enemy with your axe. Which brings me to Diablo 4.

I'm moderately interested in Diablo 4, but to my mind as someone who never played the Diablo franchise I'd first want to play Diablo 2# and then 3 before finally setting my foot into Diablo 4. 

If that sounds vaguely familiar to long time readers of the blog, that's the process I used to approach Retail WoW with, starting in Cataclysm. I'd select a toon or two and then level those new toon(s) from L1 all the way to max level when the new expansion dropped. This meant that the crowd had already cleared to max level, begun their raiding, and were sitting in Trade Chat complaining that they were bored before I even killed my first mob in the new areas. It also gave me a chance to experience the game as it was presented, whether that presentation was purposely intended or not.

In the case of Diablo, I'm not one to replay RPGs ad nauseum --because replaying and releveling to the end at increased difficulty levels doesn't engage me-- so if I wanted to try those games out I'd wait for a massive sale## and then purchase those games at the price that reflects the worth of a single playthrough rather than a steady stream of replays for.... whatever reason. 

(I suspect that the "replay" concept of Diablo arose because people would replay the game while they waited for Diablo 3 and then Diablo 4 to be announced and released. Now, it's just... part of how the game is played.)

Nevertheless, when I watch Diablo 4 YouTube videos, what I'm struck by are how much Diablo 4 and World of Warcraft have blurred together, terminology wise. People talking about Affixes, grinding for Renown, and the various Seasons could be talking about either game, really. Add in World Bosses and dungeon grinding, and you'd have a hard time distinguishing discussions between the two games if you weren't looking at the screen.

That does highlight something that I never thought I'd ever have to contend with in an Action RPG such as Diablo: just how much complexity from WoW has bled over into Diablo? I mean, "I hit it with my axe" is pretty much the hallmark of the Diablo playstyle, but if you have to pay attention to all of this other crap just to play the game to completion, what's the point? What else is out there, that if you missed a specific item you were doomed to not playing the game right and that you had to start over? 

We've all experienced this feeling before,
which makes you wonder why you spent
all this time in the first place.
From Gamerant.

Kind of like that ol' Diamond Flask for Warriors in WoW Classic. If you didn't know that was a BiS item for Warriors in Classic/Classic Era, and you missed out on selecting it as the reward from the Voodoo Feathers quest, then you were simply shit outta luck.

L2P noob indeed.


In the end, complexity is an aftereffect of how long a game has been in existence. All games will, over time, become more and more complex as additions are made to the base game. Hell, just look at all the additions to the various incarnations of Sid Meier's Civilization over the years. The thing is, just how the game implements that complexity and builds up to that complexity is critically important. 

And that is something that Blizzard's properties need to work more extensively on.

*Such as, oh, 9 years from the date of this post but effectively 12 years.

**You can just opt out of this culture, as I kind of have, but that only goes so far. Even I partake in the min/max-ing culture whenever I fire up to see if a specific piece of gear is an upgrade or not. Still, Classic Era has been a true refuge from the meta driven culture found in Wrath Classic.

***They were most definitely old school in that they hated Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was the only one who regularly watched ST:TNG, and even then I stopped watching by my Junior year of college.

****I'm pretty sure I soloed Dar'Khan during the Cataclysm expansion on a Horde toon at level, and maybe even soloed the abominations as well.

*****I want to point out that membership in Aldor or Scryers was entirely optional in TBC. You'd think it was required, but I managed to simply ignore it on Deuce while leveling her and never had any issues with that. Of course, I wasn't going to raid, so that meant I wasn't gaining access to any Scryer or Aldor specific crafting recipes, but since I could just buy those if I needed them it wasn't a big deal per se. Flying in TBC wasn't mandatory if you weren't planning on raiding or accessing the Tempest Keep 5-person dungeons, as my old TBC Classic main --Briganaa-- didn't gain access to flying until some days after hitting max level and I absolutely was required to enter into those Tempest Keep instances for attunements. But Deuce, like before, skipped flying entirely until she finally had to bite the bullet and get it at L80 in Northrend. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that Neve still doesn't have flying in Wrath Classic, and she's been at L80 for a long time now. It's... just not a priority for me in the same way that I don't have a single toon in the entirety of Wrath Classic that has epic flying. Somewhere I can hear the collective mass of Wrath players screaming at the audacity to simply not give a fuck about flying anywhere fast.

#I mean, good luck trying to get Diablo 1 to work, if you can find a (legal) copy at all.

##Oh, the irony. I wrote this over the weekend, and between then and now the Blizzard Summer Sale appeared, with D2: Resurrected at 67% off and the entire D3 franchise at 26% off. To be honest, I wasn't expecting this sale right now --more like in November/December-- and my budget is kind of shot to hell with car repairs and my oldest getting her wisdom teeth yanked, so I'll likely pass on D2.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

So Here's a Toast

 As I've alluded to over the past few months, my questing buddy has continued to raid in Wrath Classic by joining a Friday night semi-pug put on by a mutual friend of ours. I call it a "semi-pug" because it has a regular group of about 10-15 people and they pug the rest of the spots. Initially the pug was for a full size 25 person raid, but after enough failed raids due to puggers simply not having the gear or the basic skills needed to understand things like "don't stand in fire", the raid lead dropped the pug down to a 10 person raid so that the regulars could get the gear they need to once again ramp up to a 25 person raid.

So... For the past month, that 10 person raid has pretty much worked according to plan. The raid has been getting clears of Ulduar, which my questing buddy was thinking she wasn't going to see at all given how the 25 person raids had been going. That doesn't mean they've gotten to Algalon, because they've not met the requirements for that*, but they have been downing Yogg-Saron regularly now.

I've been proud of her given that she's new to healing for this expac, and I know from experience that she's gotten really good at it. Part of this is that she attacks the game like a puzzle to be solved, figuring out how to get the BiS gear she needs, and picking the brains of people she knows and respects who are better at healing than her.**

That she does this with three kids --and their associated demands on her time-- is even more impressive.

(And have I mentioned that she puts up with my quirks and foibles? I'd not blame her if she threw up her hands and declared "You're impossible!!" but she just keeps hanging in there.)

The two of us back in early January,
when we were clowning around
in Shattrath before raid time.

So on the eve of the Trial of the Crusader raid, here's to my questing buddy and her success!

*Whatever those requirements are. No, I'm not going to look it up, because when our 10 person raid team broke up I simply stopped caring at that point. Okay, that's not entirely true, because I didn't care all that much to begin with in Wrath Classic, as I was determined to not do what I did in TBC Classic and go all hardcore about it. For me, that meant only giving just as much of a damn about raiding as would pass the minimum requirements to actually get into the raid. (I think I can hear my questing buddy screaming, because for her part of the love of the game is all the plotting for gear.) I know enough about the cadence of raiding that it typically takes a few tries to get the positioning and whatnot correct, and unless you're hardcore enough to get into the PTR to practice, those first attempts "to work out the kinks" will be on live servers.

**This does spill over into Classic Era, too, as she'll frequently drag me along when I'd be more inclined to simply just screw around and fish or something in game. That's how we discovered we could two person significant portions of Gnomeregan as Hunter and Mage at level, and the same with Scarlet Monastery: Library and Uldaman.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Meme Monday: Free RPG Day Memes

You know what's coming up on Saturday, June 24th?

Free RPG Day.

Yes, that annual event designed to grow gaming, where people can visit their local game store and pick up an "introductory" or "sample" RPG to a game they've never tried before. If you want to see if there's a FLGS near you that is participating in Free RPG Day, head onto the official website and take a look.

And in honor of Free RPG Day, here's a few RPG memes to make you chuckle and snicker...

For some people it takes a few
minutes to properly get into character.
From Pinterest.

This is the same reason why my cleric
back in college chose Blind-Fighting
as a specialty: because I wanted to.
And you bet your ass it sure came in handy!
From Joe Jusko.

Oh, for pete's sake... okay, I'll give it a try.
Elwsgas. Elwsgas? WTF name is THAT??!!
Sounds like some disease I'd take Gas-X for!!!
From Fyxt RPG.

Uh oh.

Ha! That happened to our game group
recently, although the intelligent sword
told the Minotaur that picked it up to "get lost".

And one bonus meme:

Fueling the imagination
of the next generation.
From imgflip.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

How Did the EU End Up Being the Odd One Out?

That's the question I have when both the UK and now the US' Federal Trade Commission are suing to block the Microsoft acquisition of Blizzard.

Typically the EU is the one these days who is less of a paper tiger for mergers/acquisitions than the UK and US are, but I suppose that everybody is allowed an outlier.

Or maybe the EU plays more Diablo 4 than we guessed.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Meme Monday: Miscellaneous Memes Once More

Since I didn't have a specific theme lined up, I figured that another miscellaneous collection would suffice. Besides, I had a bunch of memes that didn't exactly fit into the themes I'd been using, so....

Even back when I played Darklands on PC
in the early 90s, I'd save gold by avoiding
the inns. From Pinterest.

Alas, I do understand that.
I hate that I can understand it, but
yes, I do understand that.
From ResetEra.

Given that Diablo 4 and Tears of the Kingdom
were both released, this is surely applicable. 
Not restricted to girlfriends, however; my
questing buddy was monopolizing their
copy of Tears of the Kingdom initially.
From... uh... I can't remember.

And subverting the sexy armor meme,
Niels Vergouwen... (Thanks, Niels!)

Friday, June 9, 2023

Beware Alignments

Yes, I'm aware that Bioware (well, EA) is selling Star Wars: The Old Republic to Broadsword. On the face of it, this sure sounds like the game is going into maintenance mode in the same fashion that Rift has been placed, but at least Broadsword isn't Gamigo. Some devs are heading to Broadsword from Bioware, and it sounds like Broadsword is basically two turntables and a microphone as far as development staff is concerned. That means that the SWTOR team will effectively move their culture over, lock stock and barrel, to Broadsword.

Given that I tend to play the "vanilla" areas of SWTOR with little interest in new content, I'm okay with that. (It would be nice if the devs brought out "Classic SWTOR" servers, but that's just me.)

However, one cautionary flag I noted were all of the comments here and there on the internet about how the SWTOR staff is moving to a place that aligns with their interests. Upon reading that, I twitched. You see, back in the early 2000s my division was outsourced to an IT outsourcing firm, and part of the justification in that outsourcing from my company's owners was that we would be in a place where our work is their primary business. Our careers would be better aligned with that new company, we were told, as we would not be a "back office" job but rather a core competency of our new company's staffing.

I said it then, and I'll say it now: that was a huge fucking load of horseshit. 

That was so much horseshit I could have been selling bags of manure for years.

The first thing that "new company" did was get all of everybody's workload and compensation, and then cut said compensation by turning everybody into to salaried employees. Then they began cutting people left and right to "align with the need to bring the account into the black".  Finally, they began offshoring positions overseas; first to Costa Rica, then to India and Indonesia, and finally to the Philippines.*


In the case of history repeating itself, 14 years later our division was once again outsourced from that IT firm to yet another IT firm, and we were fed the exact same lines of crap about how our work would "better align" with the new firm. 

Guess what happened once we got settled into the new company?

From Digital Mom blog.

So yeah, I don't believe that bullshit for a single minute. And neither should the SWTOR devs.

If there is a silver lining to this, it's that Bioware will now have nothing to stand on other than their single player games that they've been doing just so damn well with. I mean, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem were just fantastic releases, except for those damn SWTOR devs, amirite?

*When the Philippines office opened up, people on my team from India were suddenly concerned for their jobs, because the Philippines personnel were paid a fraction of their salaries, and they were underpaid compared to other IT companies in India.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Meme Monday: Satanic Panic Memes

Okay, so there's this game that's officially releasing to the public this week --yes yes, I know that if you paid extra you can get access now-- and it has a certain element to it.

A Satanic element to it, which is something I'm kind of familiar with:

Yes, this was a real newspaper clipping.
From Patheos.

So I figured, hey, let's make a little trip down memory lane and dredge up some memes about the ol' Satanic Panic? After all, they touch on all the bases I was familiar with back in the day: Heavy Metal, D&D, ostracized nerdy teens, etc. For those of you who didn't get to experience it firsthand, because you weren't in (or in the vicinity of) The Bible Belt, or your church didn't have an Evangelical bent to it, allow me to say it first: YOU LUCKY BASTARDS.

Yeah, it sure felt like this.
From Reddit.

This is also back in the day when
Tolkien's world was viewed as being
satanic as well. Nowadays, that's
considered "being cute".
From Reddit again.

Yes, some parents considered
Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers
to be Satanic, because they dared
to educate kids without beating them
up from time to time. From imgflip.

Okay, I laughed my ass off at this one.
If I had a dollar for all the times my 
parents tossed me outside to "go play"...
From 9GAG.

And one bonus meme, flipping the ol' D&D thing on its head:

From Scott Metzger via Reddit.
Something tells me Reddit didn't
ask for permission.

Friday, June 2, 2023

It's That Shark Music Again...

'You asked me once,' said O'Brien, 'what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.' 
--From 1984 by George Orwell. Part 3, Chapter 5.

I think I have discovered what my deepest, darkest fear is. 

No, not her. Sorry, this isn't a Diablo post.

And no, it isn't missing out on raids. I get that this is primarily a gaming blog, but come on.

In the realm of nightmare scenarios, I could have chosen family related events such as watching my kids or wife die, existential fears such as nuclear war or a pandemic far more deadly than Covid-19 was, or even personal fears such as losing my job, getting cancer, or causing us to get kicked out of our home. However, it is a particular subset of the dreaded loss of control that I fear the most.

The aftereffects of a stroke.

I've seen it happen to my father, when he had surgery back in 2002 or so. He had a brain tumor that needed removal, so the surgery process was to pop out an eye*, go in through the front where the tumor was, and remove it. With luck, they'd get the whole thing in one swoop and put the eye back in place. No fuss, no muss. (Relatively speaking.)

So we waited around at the hospital for hours on end as the surgery progressed, and sometime about 6 hours after he was wheeled into surgery the surgeon emerged to speak with us. The process was a success, he said, and all of the tumor was removed and sent to determine its malignancy.** However, there was a catch: when they began to bring him out of the deep anesthesia he suffered a stroke. It wasn't unusual for that to happen, he informed us, and they caught it early and were able to administer drugs to control the stroke. However, he said, we'll have to watch him and how he recovers.

The first thing I noticed was that Dad sounded like he was on speed. 

There was absolutely no filter on him at all: whatever popped into his head came right out of his mouth. It was a completely unrestrained Id for all to see. The nurses were used to this sort of thing, but watching it in action was disheartening. 

He used to listen to Soft Rock / Yacht Rock, so on the way home from the hospital I put on some old Sting (Nothing Like the Sun) and about one or two songs in he told me "That's just crap; turn it off." Given that he used to listen to this music for hours on end shocked me, but I took it in stride.

Then, when I kept him company while my mom got some medication for him, he angrily blurted, "I heard you tell your brother that I'm on speed."

WTF and holy shit.

I made a mental note to explain things better to my brother, and informed my dad that it was more like he didn't have speed bumps; your words are just falling all over each other in a rush to come out.

He grunted and subsided. I doubted he suddenly gained control of his Id, so it was likely he had nothing to say.

We got him home, and the next day my mom informed me that it was a rough night, where he was ranting and raving about this and that or how my mom wasn't doing things right or whatever popped into his head. I think I should be glad I wasn't there, because I might have had trouble being so understanding, which would have done nobody any good.

Eventually my dad recovered, but he was a changed man. He became far more impulsive than ever before, and he did lose the ability to write or sign his name. Some complex concepts were no longer within his grasp, and we had to keep an eye on whether he might just up and decide to go somewhere and not tell anyone while he was out in a group.

But for me, those first several days were like watching a nightmare unfolding in real life.


I realize that the unrestrained Id is a kind of terrifying thing to behold; the Id just absorbs things, churns them around, tosses in pure volatility and emotion, and spews out words or thoughts without consideration of consequences. (Kind of like Twitter, only worse.) But we as functioning humans have control over our Id and keep it from carpet bombing everything with napalm. Maybe some have greater control than others, but the point is still the same: to function in society you have to rein in your worst impulses.

"There's a time and a place for certain discussions."

"Don't burn your bridges."

"No, you can't have that right now. Control yourself."

It's all well and good, until something happens and our control is lost.

Like a stroke.

Or Dementia.

And then suddenly all those thoughts that your mind says "That's bullshit --and you know it-- and you're not saying that," suddenly stand up and cheer and head for the nearest exit (your mouth).

THAT is what I'm terrified of.


When I had my "old man procedure" last year, I was put in a semi-comatose state while the stereotypical rectal probe checked me out. The docs may say I was semi-comatose, but for all intents and purposes I was out like a light. When I finally came to***, the nurse and my wife informed me that I was yammering on and on about checking the mail, and whether the mail had come this morning or not. 

I have absolutely no memory of this at all, and I don't know why my brain popped that particular thing out of my mouth.

My wife and the nurse were amused by my performance, but I wasn't.

I mean, what if I'd said something else, such as sharing intimate details of my dating or married life? Or what I thought of the attractive neighbor next door who had the personality of the Wicked Witch of the West? Or what I really thought about some of my ex-coworkers? Or details about private conversations among some of my closest friends online? Or.... You get the idea.

I'd like to think that somehow my brain would step in and keep things from getting out of hand, but I know better. Under the right circumstances the best thing for people standing nearby is to put on a raincoat and galoshes, because the shit will be flying fast and heavy.

Maybe it's about the image I project, or the face I put to the world. Losing all sense of control and just spewing whatever would be a nightmarish blow to my self image. I mean, I'm not egotistical about it, but I do take pride in doing the right thing and presenting an example for others. I know I'm not perfect --oh crap, do I know that-- but I believe in setting a good example for people to follow. I can't look my kids in the eye and tell them to do things the right way if I don't try to follow it myself. "Represent," is what I said to my kids when they wore clothing with their school name on it, "You are representing your school whether you like it or not, and people will judge others from your school based on your behavior."**** In the same way, people will judge me based on how I behave, so I try to keep myself under control as much as possible.

And that loss of control throws that concept out the window.


So there you have it. My greatest fear isn't even fear of heights, which I do happen to have, but something far more existential in nature. I'd have likely never even realized it were it not for my dad's experience with a brain tumor, but once unleashed that fear can never be quite compartmentalized as much as I'd prefer. 

It's like a Rogue in a battleground, always sneaking along out there and ready to strike when you least expect it.

*Yes, I still shudder at that part.

**It was benign, but rapidly growing, so it was very much a good thing that all of it was removed.

***Yes, everything checked out fine. The doc said "While I was down there, I figured I'd check your prostate too, and you're okay. See you in a decade." I could almost hear the snap of the latex gloves on his hands when he said "I checked your prostate" and shuddered.

****This is a reason why I prefer to not wear clothes with logos or drive a car with bumper stickers or whatnot on them. I like the anonymity, and I know how people judge others.

EtA: Fixed a grammatical quirk and a conjunction.

EtA: Fixed yet another grammatical error. Sheesh.