Thursday, January 13, 2011

Random Murmurings...

The November-March time period for me is growing more and more hectic. Typically, the holiday family shenanigans would eat up a ton of my time (and rightfully so) during Nov and Dec. That generally rolls into the busiest time of the business year for me in the form of tax season.

This holiday season and the start of tax season has been especially bad for me from a time standpoint. There's been very little down time at all when there was usually at least one day/week where I could just sit and decompress from all the stress that has built up. It'll make me sound old(er), but it truly seems like people don't know how to slow down anymore.

That or I can't keep up.

Take your pick.

Anyway, part of the hecticness (is that a word?) is related to FFXI. After undergoing a renaissance of sorts with Abyssea, level cap increases, etc, a lot of transformations have had to take place within our linkshell. Seems silly to me that helping lead a linkshell, which I had always viewed more as a hobby than a job, was eating up so much of my time. It has though. At this point, we seem to have most everything in place with a few minor tweaks to debate out as we find someone trying to figure out how to get a leg up on someone else.

That's one thing I've never understood. I get that it's human nature to be self-serving. Most decent humans can figure out how to cooperate and meet their own needs through a combination of teamwork and patience. There's always those one or two people though, that, no matter how much effort the leaders or team members put into making them better, they're always trying to figure out a way to game a system that's in place.

It's probably utopian of me to think that everyone on a team should be working to help each other out when they can. It's an MMO, not everyone has the same play schedule, so it's hard to gauge just how much effort one is putting in when they typically are on about 1/4 of the time as others. I've always operated under the idea that "You get what you put in."

And yes Jess, if you put in penis, you get penis.

There's so much new content in Abyssea that it's hard to apply some of those principles to it. Some NMs, like Hedjedjet or Fuath, are regularly camped and can be taken down with a small degree of difficulty in low man groups. Unlike Scars, and especially before they dropped the respawn time of NMs to 10-15 mins, these roaming NMs drop items for the +2 stuff, so it becomes an issue of time invested vs. reward gained. Camping NMs is never fun and I've always been opposed to spending mass amounts of time camping them. At the same time, you want to figure out the best and most efficient way of knocking those NMs out to progress through your linkshell's wish lists. "You get what you put in" really only applies if you're working to take other people who share similar interests from the linkshell with you.

Tough to balance and easy to manipulate.

Also on Abyssea, man it's tough getting new people up to par for it. You almost need a damn minor league system to help push returning/new people through to get their basics down, but even then, cause they missed the main push, you always end up with 1-2 people who "don't have X atma". I started compiling a list of what people need to get before they really start actively participating in Abyssea events. A lot of it can be picked up through the course of normal activity, but...

...sometimes not for a few weeks.

Anyway, the list:

1. Fluxes, all zones, no question. You show up and say "I don't have this flux", booting you from the run until you're 100% certain you have all the fluxes.

2. Celerity Abyssites. They're all solable. Get them, maximize your stone regen time.

3. Sojourn Abyssites. 4 of the 6 require NM kills. 2 are soloable. Strongly suggested to simply watch for when your linkshell is heading to a specific zone one of the NMs that drop it are in. 48 mins/stone as opposed to 30 mins/stone will go part and parcel with the celerity Abyssites.

4. Fortune Abyssites. 4, 5 and 6 will generally be lumped together. These particular ones aren't going to be soloable for the most part, but can be picked up typically through normal LS runs.

5. Kismet Abyssites. 2/3 are soloable. The last, not so much, but that chariot isn't a huge deal for a group to take down during a Grauberg run. I point these out cause it really fkn sucks building lights. The less time you spend doing this, the better and having those 1-2 people getting killshots w/o max lights just irritates and slows down everyone else.

6. Abyssites of Furtherance and Merit. A lot of these can be soloed. More HP/MP/Stats from cruor buffs = more better good.

On a side note, why does SE still have the individual options for cruor buffs?

7. Make a beeline for Razed Ruin, Voracious Violet, Allure and Minikin Monstrosity atmas. Sure, there are other atmas that are important, but odds are, no matter what job you play, one or more of those 4 atmas are going to be infused.

Lv.90 Gungnir

Finished this up last night. I'm still pissed I wasted so much time grinding out Lv.85 Gungnir only to have SE knock out 80% of the requirements. I'm halfway expecting they'll knock out a couple of the Lv.90 requirements in the next update.

At this point though, I get 2-3 months to not worry about a relic magian trial whereas before, I was typically up against the clock right up until update day finishing my previous ones.

I speculated before that the Lv.95 version of Gungnir will end up sending us to Xarc to knock out our respective fragment NMs. Still haven't swayed much from that thought process, but I'm starting to entertain the possibility that this whole attestation NM thing is an aberration to the killshot pattern as a whole and we'll be back to killshots for lv.95.

As of this writing though, Kreoss and I have finished our Lv.90 relics with Gawayne and Junin both sitting at 4/5 as they weren't finished with their trials when we did the first couple runs.

It took us 6 runs to get the 5 kills. The first run we attempted gave us a few sore reminders about how the attestation NMs worked. Also put a spotlight on the fact that not everyone knows where the extensions are in the zone. With a few tweaks and repositionings, we got these runs down to the point where we could get in, kill the 3 NMs necessary and get out in under 2 hours.

Last night, we ended up knocking out 4 of the 5 NMs. The 4th one being the BRD/BLM/WHM for Teysa's Dagger paper. Obviously this means we have a new wave of relics coming up behind us potentially, but I suspect that's not going to happen any time soon.

Many, MANY thanks to the guys like Kaylea, Kaelis, Drakus, Milie and a whole host of others who were there every run they could be to help push us through. These things aren't the easiest in the world to Duo or Trio, much less attempt to nail down 3 of them in one run with 2-3 people. It's rather amusing to watch these NMs take down a fully buffed, Lv.90 PLD in the sac process in a matter of 5 or 6 swings (lolgawayne).

We got one more run to do for Gaw and Junin, then hopefully I can just put this behind me for a while. In a lot of ways, this trial was worse than 2000 killshots given the amount of man hours invested from everyone involved. 2000 killshots could basically be done whenever with about 40~ hours. Dynamis could only be done every 72 hours and when you figure about 10 people per run investing 2-3 hours at a time over the course of 5 runs, you can see it easily trumps the killshots trials.

Even though I can't say everyone in our linkshell is always helping other linkshell members get their stuff done, I can say when the major stuff shows up, we got a very solid group of people that pitch in and help, so again, thanks to everyone that pitched in and got us through this.

Lancer's Plackart +2

As a b-day present, a few of us got together to knock this out. I wasn't really expecting to finish it, and it looked like I wasn't going to thanks to Shaula being stubborn on the Lancer's Body seals, but it happened. I had picked up a few Ardor Cards from NMs like Bennu and Alfard. Going into this impromptu event, I was sitting at 6/9 cards and 8/10 seals.

I rounded up everyone I could who was on same tier with me (our prio system is tiered based on 1st-5th priorities and grouped by what +2 items are required) and we headed out. Got Hedjedjet first thing. He somehow went unclaimed during the fight and we weren't sure if he had to deaggro or just go unclaimed for the whole restaggering bit. We erred on the side of caution and just killed him. Our reward?

One Thunder Belt.
One Card of Ardor.

So we figured we needed to restagger. While waiting for repop, we knocked out a few Shaulas, which had managed to drop a shitload of RNG and WHM body seals, but only one DRG body seal.

Second Hedjedjet comes along and we killed w/o having to deal with the unclaimed issue. The drops from that one were:

2x Card of Ardor.
1x Jewel of Ardor.
Thunder Belt.

So, I was done with the +2 portion of the body, just needed that last, pesky body seal. Back to Shaula we went. Nada. More RNG and WHM...

Not that Mav minded all the RNG body seals...I think he started from scratch and finished his +1 and then some...

More linkshell members came out to join us and we got Hedjedjet again. We ran into the unclaimed issue and, thinking back to the first, we grellowed it again. Our reward?

Thunder Belt.
1x Jewel of Ardor.

So of those kills we just got unlucky on, which was it...

Back to Shaula, who finally dropped the last seal I needed. Awesomely enough, pretty much every Shaula since has dropped 1-2 DRG body seals...

My luck is seriously weird sometimes. There's no question I'm lucky most of the time. My bad luck tends to manifest itself when I'm || close to finishing something.

One objective to go in a relic trial?

Geirskogul whiffs 7 times in a row.

One more item to finish a +1 or +2 piece of armor?

Need at least 10 kills before I'm done.

.1 away from a new WS?

Usually takes an hour or more before I see it.

But up until those points in each of those scenarios, I'm lucky in how fast I get there.

At any rate, I've got +2 head and body now on DRG and +1 everything else. The +2 legs and feet might take some more time given the NMs that drop the cards in Qty. 3 are T3 VNMs...and getting those abyssites suck to begin with. Really wouldn't surprise me if I finished the lower gear priorities on my wish lists before I finished those 2 particular pieces.

I'm torn on what's better for WS though. Lancer's Plackart +2 or Ares Body. I'm of the mindset that in Abyssea, Ares is better, but out of Abyssea, the plackart is better.

Acc is more or less wasted on me given the sheer amount of it I have on my relic and various other pieces of gear. So it's really a question of what's better? 15 Dex or 10 Att? DRG only has a DEX mod in Penta Thrust, which I rarely use anymore. Obviously DEX helps Drakesbane potentially reach another crit tier, but in Abyssea, I'm likely well beyond the crit cap from cruor buffs and atma like Razed Ruin.

Testing must be done!

Testing must also be done on the whole "Set: Damage occasionally varies with wyvern's HP". I whacked a lady bug with a 2600 crit melee swing shortly after I got the body. My wyvern's HP was 100%, so I'm wondering if it's just a straight 1/1 percentage boost to the damage you would have normally dealt as most of my relic crits are in the 1200-1300 range.

That's all for now though...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Benji: 1995-2011

This isn't an FFXI related post, so if you come here strictly for that, then sorry, you'll have to wait another day.

Today I woke up with a long list of tasks to do. I ended up getting none of them done and had to bury my dog.

My sister found Benji as a puppy in the parking lot of a nearby Minit Mart about 16 years ago. She was out for a drive with Dad practicing for her driver's test. Benji was so small that my sister feared she would get run over cause she was hard to see. This resulted in her being brought home with her with the intention of being taken to the pound the next day.

Most people know how that story goes.

The part that was uncommon was that she managed to win my mom over in that one-day moratorium. Y'see, Mom hates dogs. She was attacked by one as a little girl and has hated/feared them ever since, no matter the size. The second Benji showed up in my sister's arms, she was pretty much ordered to take her back. Dad intervened. The dog was staying at least until the next day. It was getting dark out and the pound was already closed anyway.

Naturally, my sister and I are playing with Benji. So full of life and energy as a lot of puppies are. She's a little skittish naturally due to her size, but once she warmed up to you, she couldn't get enough attention.

Later that evening, Mom is sitting on the couch scowling at Benji. I'm not sure what possessed Benji to try, but she walked right up to the couch and started trying to hop up next to Mom. Benji was so small though, that she couldn't make it. Mom, being undersized herself, seemed to empathize with that. She ultimately helped Benji up onto the couch and seemingly from that point forward, Benji was officially part of our family.

Benji was you typical dog. Couldn't get enough attention. Definitely couldn't get enough food. Randomly left "presents" around the house if we didn't get her outside in time. Some of her more endearing qualities were:

- Yapped at anything that came into the yard or if the doorbell rang. Her bark could actually wake Dad up from a deep sleep (Dad's legally deaf).

- Fiercly protective of people she loved, even if someone she loved was acting like they were going to harm someone else she loved. It was a fun game to play at times to get her stirred up. You could simply hold your hand out and move a little bit towards another person. If you had eye contact with Benji, she'd rush toward you, teeth bared and barking. She would never actually bite you, but she'd certainly let you know she didn't approve.

- She never played fetch. No matter how many times I tried to train her, she'd just look at whatever I threw as if to say, "Dumbass. Now you get to go get it."

- Tuft of hair on the top of her head that was the only indication she had some poodle in her. Benji was mostly terrier. That tuft of hair was basically like pipe cleaner. You could bend/style that in any shape you wanted w/o having to use anything to hold it in place. We commonly had her running around with a mohawk.

- She had a snaggletooth. If you whistled for her, sometimes her upper lip wouldn't be covering said tooth. So the expression you'd get when she'd look up was one that looked like sheer befuddlement when it was supposed to be one of attention.

- She was scared of her collar clanging against her water bowl. Never really understood why this scared her, but it did. We tried using plastic dog tags, changing her water bowl to a plastic one, etc, but nothing worked. It wasn't until the past year or so when she started going deaf that she seemed to not care if her collar hit her bowl or not. Otherwise, she'd stand just far enough away to lap the water with her tongue outstretched.

- Loved baths. A lot of dogs do and she wasn't any different. She'd get a bath and then run around the house like a crazed animal rubbing up against anything she could.

For the past year or so, her health had been failing at a rather rapid pace. I'm about as anti-euthanization as it gets and felt if meds could keep her from suffering, that was the better option. She had a whole host of problems due to age. Irritable bowels, arthritic joints, kidney failure (which required dialysis every couple days the past few months), and most notably, going blind and deaf.

Most days, on all of her meds, she seemed fine and about as alert as a blind/deaf dog could be. She could hear you whistle for her still and my guess is could still make out shadows, but you'd catch her running into things she normally wouldn't. She found it harder and harder to walk and even harder to control her bowels.

A couple weeks ago, we had to take her in for an emergency visit due to some blood being in her urine. One complete set of tract infection meds later, the problem hadn't really cleared up, so my folks made the decision to go ahead and have her put down.

When they called me this morning to tell me the news, I rushed over to the vets office hoping I could say bye to her. On the way, my sister calls me to tell me they're holding off until she and I got there.

It's rare that people get to say goodbye to their pets in this manner. Sure, pets are euthanized all the time, but typically said euthanizaton happens after a pet has suffered something traumatic or has generally lost all sense of self. Benji was still completely coherent of her surroundings.

I got to the office and found Benji waiting for me. She was so weak, she could barely stand up, but she tried. I just held onto her for the longest time waiting for my sister to get there. Once she did, she and I just started sobbing. Even though I knew the decision to have her put down was the right one, I never imagined it would be so hard to let go.

I've lost pets before. Most infamously, my cat that had congestive heart failure She managed to hop up onto the couch I was laying on and headbutt me one last time to let me know she was leaving. She was dead the next morning. In that case, I had a sense she wasn't going to make it to the morning and I did get to say bye, but she got to die her own way. Benji really didn't.

What Benji did get to do though was have her family around her to say bye. Sitting in the vet's office with Benji in my lap shortly after she was given the tranquilizer shot (the precursor to the final euth. shot), she let me know things were ok. She let my sister know too. The dog that was unable to stand moments before managed to paw at both my hand and my sister's hand before she passed out. It was a weak paw, but we both got the message. Soon enough, she was snoring loudly in my lap.

Shortly after that, the final shot was administered and we ushered Benji off into doggy heaven.

There aren't many instances in life that will cause me to sob uncontrollably. There are plenty that might make me well up a bit, but nothing like that. After she was pronounced dead, I picked her body up to place in her box for carriage home. I didn't realize how limp she was going to be and I broke down uncontrollably, missing her box almost completely.

The vet offered to place her in a bag for me and put her in there, but there wasn't any way I was allowing that to happen. I get that vets do this sort of stuff on a daily basis and having the owners in there likely makes their job a lot more difficult. I just didn't want Benji's body to be shaped by the bag. As morbid as this sounds, every pet I've buried up until this one had been through the bagging process and the positions their bodies ended up in was just horrifying to me.

Working through the sobs, My sister and I managed to get Benji curled up in her box, placed the lid on it and proceeded to come home with her.

What Benji has meant to our family over these years can't be worded. Most pet owners will just understand. We've had a lot of pets and, while most of them ended up being taken from us way too early, the one constant that touched every single pet we've ever owned sans one, was Benji. Up until the past year or so, we would be greeted through the door by her barking and her coming up to greet us when we walked through the door. Again, this isn't uncommon for most pet owners, but most pet owners wouldn't think of it a second for other pets. However, their own pets doing this ends up being taken for granted.

We were fortunate. We knew the end was near. Even as far back as 5 or so years ago when arthritis set in, we knew. So our family simply did their best to enjoy what time Benji had left here. Sure, she aggravated us at times, but even if she got in trouble, it wasn't long afterwards that she was right by our sides getting loved on.

Benji's life was one of incredible luck and circumstances. Most can read her story and see that given where she came from.

What most won't see is that even though she was that lucky, we were infinitely more lucky to have her.

R.I.P. Benji. You were loved and you will be missed greatly.

P.S. The decision to keep her alive vs. put her down over the course of the past year has come up quite a bit. Meds generally kept her happy and moving around, but as time wore on, they weren't having the same effect. One of the biggest things that came out of our decisions was my oldest niece being old enough to remember who Benji was as she gets older. Around 2.5-3 years old, not many memories stay. Since she's over 4 now, it's far more likely she will remember and that does nothing but positive things towards Benji's memory.

Qtipus' Information

FFXI subscriber since NA release.