Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Blaugust 2023: Randomocracy

I rarely post anything even remotely political on my blog.  And my political beliefs can probably best be described as something like, "What the Hell is Wrong With All of You?"  I've often found myself sitting in the car listening to some news story and thinking that the homeless guy asking for change at the intersection could probably do a better job than 80% of the people in higher elected office these days.  

In fact, almost everyone you run into on the street, at the grocery store, or at your kids' soccer game would do a better job.  Okay, maybe not that one dad at the soccer game.  But most everyone else.

I've been spending a decent amount of time on the long drives to my son's school to think about what a framework for a better, more effective government might look like, and that's where the idea of randomocracy was born.

This would obviously be highly controversial.  It would require a complete rewrite of the U.S. Constitution, which makes it essentially wholly impossible but still interesting to think about.  It also effectively does away with democracy, but I'll argue in a way that makes things more representative, not less.  It also basically eliminates political parties because they would no longer be needed.

So here is how it works.  The new structure would maintain the three branches of government that we have now - Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  

Executive

There would no longer be a President or a Vice President for the Executive.  Instead, we would randomly draw seven names randomly from the general population every five years, and those seven people would run the executive branch for the next 5 years.  They would move to the White House with their families, each earning tax-free $1,000,000 per year for their 5-year term.  One alternative approach that I thought about with this structure is instead of selecting all seven people at once for a 5-year term, you could choose a new person each year for 7-year terms to replace one person on the team each year.

The only requirement to be selected is to be at least 30 years old and a citizen, although not necessarily natural-born.

Besides this executive committee, the rest of the Executive Branch would stay in place.  Cabinet Secretaries and other senior executive department officials would remain in their roles until the executive committee either decided they were no longer performing and asked them to step down or until those secretaries voluntarily resigned.  In any case, the executive committee would recruit and interview replacements once that happened, based on the candidates' actual expertise in the field for the relevant department.

Legislative

This would work similarly to the Executive Branch.  Instead of having two houses of the legislature, you would only have one.  It probably doesn't matter whether the term for representatives is 4, 5, or 6 years, and you could either do it all at once or in tranches, for example, 100 new people selected each year for 5-year terms, but you'd have 500 people in the legislature.  But those 500 people would be chosen at random from among the population.

The requirements to be selected would be the same as for the President, with the one change that the minimum age would be 21, not 30.  

Most of the legislative work would continue to be done in committees based on the type of job you had before selection or your areas of interest.  So, for example, anyone who was a lawyer or judge in real life would most likely end up on the judiciary committee.  

Instead of elections, every three months, Congress could add questions to a nationwide poll that could be both internet and mail-based and would solicit feedback on areas the committees would like public input on.  They could also hold regular town halls around the country as another venue for gathering public input on issues they are considering.  

Judicial

This would flip from how it works now.  Judicial positions would be subject to 10-year term limits.  When vacancies arose on particular federal courts, candidates could apply, or nominations could be taken, and the judicial committee of the legislature would interview candidates and make recommendations on appointments.  Those recommendations would then need to be approved by the Executive Committee.  Candidates for Appeals Courts would need to have served at least one term at the District Court level, and Candidates for the Supreme Court would need to have served at least one term at the Appeals Court level.  Candidates for District Court positions could be anyone with a legal background, including former Supreme or Appeals Court members.

So that's generally it - my idea for a new form of government called randomocracy.  Think of how much money could be saved on elections and how much more efficient these folks could be without worrying about their next election.  They could be 100% focused on just running the country for their terms of office.  

Friday, August 25, 2023

Blaugust 2023: Initial Thoughts on Secrets of the Obscure

This week has been a bit crazy with real-life demands, particularly with getting one of my children moved back into University.  So, my playtime has been a bit limited.

I did manage to get some initial time in the new Guild Wars 2 expansion, Secrets of the Obscure, so here are a few initial thoughts.

I've only been in the first new zone, having played part way through Chapter 4.  Everything seems pretty typical for new Guild Wars 2 content at this point.  The zones are beautiful and take advantage of Skyscale usage, which I'm sure everyone finds really fun.  

The story is interesting, but not enough to get me to take a complete time out from FFXIV, which I've still been running some regular roulettes on.  I'm enjoying the rift mechanics so far, but I wonder how those will feel when there aren't as many people doing them as there are now.  It's probably too busy right now as you can often arrive at a rift too late, but they may be hard to get through later without larger groups.  We'll have to see how that evolves over time.  The mechanic reminds me of the game Rift, which I always loved.




I wish I had finished my Mechanist because I feel that would work better with the Rift mechanics than my Reaper.  I'm considering switching to either Scourge or Harbinger for tagging things in rifts.  I have Harbinger fully unlocked, but I have never tried it.

In general, I'd give it positive reviews so far.  I should have more play time next week, so I will provide a broader update after another week.

On the FFXIV front, I've made more progress on both characters and have the Dark Knight sitting at level 75 and the Dragoon at level 61.  

I'm off to an out-of-town water polo tournament with the youngest again this weekend, so we'll return with more updates next week.

Cheers,

Joar

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Blaugust 2023: Back to School

We take the middle Joarling back to college at Carnegie Mellon tomorrow, where he will be starting his sophomore year as an Electrical and Computer Engineering Major.  He's planning to focus mainly on software engineering and is pairing it with a Computer Science minor.  He spent the summer getting various certifications like Microsoft Azure and Microsoft AI certifications, which will hopefully help him get an actual paid internship next summer.  Beyond that, he was primarily working on his plan to have every relic weapon for every job in FFXIV, which is a bit nuts.  

The youngest Joarling will start his sophomore year of high school on Thursday.  He started learning to drive over the summer but doesn't get his license until February of next year, so it will be a while until he can drive himself to school and swim practice.  So we're stuck providing car service at least for the next few months.  He seems to be mostly fully recovered from his knee-cap dislocation earlier in the summer.  He hasn't started to compete in water polo yet, but he is back at practice.  Swimming seems to be pretty much back to normal.

I've mostly been playing FFXIV and Elder Scrolls Online while waiting for the new Guild Wars 2 expansion to launch later today.  I'm continuing to make progress on the Dark Knight and Dragoon.  The Dark Knight feels squishier than the other tank jobs I've leveled, but it still seems to work out just fine.  

In Elder Scrolls online, I've decided to work on leveling some of the other crafting skills, working specifically on Jewelcrafting, Provisioning, and Alchemy.  I mostly do daily writs to work on those, which seems fine so far.

That's the update for now.  Later in the week, I'll provide an update with my initial, spoiler-free thoughts on the new Guild Wars 2 expansion.

Cheers,

Joar

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Blaugust 2023: A Regular Gaming Update

I have yet to hit my goal of two posts a week this week because things have been nuts on the work front.  I'm also doing some work travel for no good reason, restricting my playtime.  I flew down to Atlanta, Georgia, this afternoon to join a colleague down here in attending a Zoom call.  The other participants in the Zoom call will be in our corporate office in Ohio, where I flew from to get here.  But this particular person thought having me in the room with him would be great.  /Le sigh  

Not only has my blog posting time been limited, but my playtime has also been limited as a result.  But here goes:

FFXIV

I continue working on my Dark Knight and Dragoon jobs, which are sitting at level 70 and level 60, respectively.  There's probably not going to be a ton more progress on either of them since the new Guild Wars 2 expansion is dropping next week, and I'll be working through that content on my Reaper.  I am probably going to run through the current seasonal stuff to grab the Red Power Ranger outfit, as I definitely want to tank all of my MSQ roulettes as the Red Power Ranger for the rest of the time that I'm leveling Dark Knight.  

Guild Wars 2

So that brings me to Guild Wars 2.  I didn't get anywhere close to my goal of getting my Machinist current on content before the new expansion.  I did manage to get him through the end of Path of Fire, which felt like pretty decent progress.  The problem was I couldn't step away from FFXIV completely and was getting a little bit sucked into ESO.  There are elements of ESO that are more conducive to my schedule when things get a little busy, and I can't necessarily commit to the uninterrupted time needed to run a roulette or commit to a particular story instance in GW2.  

ESO

I managed to finish the Murkmire content, which brings me completely current on all non-thieving / murdering type content.  It was a reasonably typical ESO storyline, but despite that, I always enjoy them.  I also grabbed crafting writ certifications for everything so I can start leveling some of the crafts that I don't already have at max - mostly Jewelcrafting, Alchemy, and Provisioning.  If things free up a bit after finishing the new GW2 stuff and my last two FFXIV jobs, I may come back and work on those, but that may be a few months.

Those are really the updates for now.

Cheers,

Joar

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Blaugust 2023: Why I Keep Getting Burned Out on World of Warcraft

In my introductory post last week, I mentioned that this blog was started and, for the first couple of years, was exclusively about my quest to achieve specific goals in World of Warcraft.  And was focused primarily on my journey to level a lot of alts.  

To the surprise of no one except me, leveling a crap ton of alts ended up burning me out on the game.  Someone alert the Academy of Sciences, right?  I'm actually amazed that it took as long as it did.  

I started playing in the middle of Burning Crusade and only really started my quest to have many different alts, probably partway through Wrath.  I completed my goal of having a max level of each class by the end of Cataclysm.  These were all Horde characters. 

This, by the way, is the original Joar.  Warlock from Burning Crusade.  Named Joar because that's what popped up when I hit randomize.  



Late in the Cataclysm expansion, I started the same process with an Alliance character of each class but only managed to finish two before Mists of Pandaria started.  

With Mists of Pandaria, I set an exciting side goal of finishing the Siege or Orgrimmar on a character of each class.  Since that particular raid was out for what felt like 6 1/2 years, that was not as challenging as it might seem.  So I didn't make much progress on my Alliance goal during that expansion and only had 3 more done by the time we rolled around to Warlords.

I finally got the two characters of each class from each faction completed during Warlords and then started a third set, so I had 27 max-level characters by the end of Warlords.  

Those all got moved to max level by the end of the first year of Legion, and I did 6 more during the last year of that expansion to get me to 33 max-level characters.  

Battle for Azeroth was mainly a slog of working through leveling those 33 characters to max level, and I had 25 of them done when an important event hit.  During the anniversary event in November of 2019, Blizzard had set it up so that a vast amount of experience could be earned, for characters of any level, in a special anniversary event involving Korrak and old-school Alterac Valley.  Over the few weeks of that event, I went from having 25 max-level toons to 36.  By early the following year, I finished at 42 max-level characters.  And that's as high as I ever got.  

While waiting for the next expansion, Shadowlands, to come out, I started playing Final Fantasy XIV in August 2020.  It was a game that I really enjoyed, but I was just initially viewing it as something to do while waiting for the next WoW expansion.  

When Shadowlands launched, I jumped back in with both feet and leveled my Warlock, followed by my Hunter and Paladin.  I finished hitting max level on my Warlock about a week after launch, and within 2 weeks after that (mid-December), I was posting about how I was getting tired of the game and thinking about returning to FFXIV.  Those were the only three characters I got to max level in Shadowlands phase 1.  I had stopped playing by mid-January and unsubscribed in late February. 

So why?  As an altoholic, I think there were things about the game before that that I just enjoyed more.  The leveling experience in Shadowlands for me was just much more painful.  While trying to give you more variety through the whole Threads of Fate thing, it felt like every character after your first was utterly detached from the story.  I also preferred the old emissary system over the grinding process for Faction Renown.  And dropping the flight whistle made running daily world quests on alts much more painful.  

I was unsubscribed for almost 18 months before I picked it back up again towards the end of the expansion.  I ran my warlock through all of the content I had missed, including all of the raids and Korthia and other new area, and managed to get 5 more toons to max level, for a total of 8.  

I continued playing in the early part of Dragonflight and got a bit further earlier this year than I did with Shadowlands.  I ended up with 6 characters at max level, then started to pull back again in February of this year, and unsubscribed for a 2nd time in April of this year.  

It's a hard discussion for me because World of Warcraft was my first love in MMO gaming, and I would like to reignite that spark.  I may try again at some point because it often makes me sad to be gone, but it feels like it's no longer my game.   


Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Blaugust 2023: The Summer of Overwhelmed.

It has been a while since my last blog post, which always makes me feel doubly bad during Blaugust.  Real life has been kicking my butt lately.  I took a new role at work about 15 months ago.  I'm in finance/accounting generally, and I've mostly done the same type of thing for most of my career, and this new role involves more travel and is not the type of thing that I'm used to doing.  For someone as late in their career as me, it's kind of an odd move to have made, but it was one of those things where I was "asked" if I wanted to take the position in a way that it was clear the form only had one answer button on it.

On top of that, I'm one of those people that has a hard time saying no, so as a result, I take on a lot more than I can legitimately handle.  My younger two kids are competitive swimmers, so I've gotten involved in many swimming-related things just because I'm spending lots of time at competition pools with them anyway.  So right now, I'm the Treasurer of a club swim team, a high school swim team, a high school water polo team, a club booster organization, and my state's overall umbrella swim organization.  I also work as an official for both club and high school swimming.

But wait.  That's not all.  I also serve on the boards and finance committees for two local not-for-profits.  Did I mention I'm also getting a master's degree?  I'm a complete and utter dumbass. 

I managed to generally juggle all of that, but then our youngest child dislocated his knee-cap earlier in the summer, adding an additional fun cycle of doctor visits, scans, physical therapy, etc., to the schedule.  He is recovering well, and it did get me out of a few travel swim meets since he couldn't compete, but it has definitely added to a stressful summer.  

My wife and I tried to have some fun this past weekend to try to destress.  Our town here in Central Ohio has a big Irish Festival each year.  We don't often get to go because we're generally out of town at a swim meet, but with the youngest's injury, we suddenly had the time, so we got to go watch a few Irish rock bands and enjoy ourselves.



The next day, we took the kids and some of their friends to Cedar Point, an amusement park about 2 hours north of us known for its fantastic collection of roller coasters.  While the kids made themselves sick riding everything in the park, my wife and I enjoyed the "staring at Lake Erie enjoying a beverage" ride.


Cool clouds that day too.  It was all really fun, but we were also up late both nights, so I'm still pretty exhausted.  

But as a result, I've yet to make much progress on my gaming stuff.  In FFXIV, I did manage to get my Fisher to 90 and have added a couple of levels to both the Dark Knight and the Dragoon.  In Guild Wars 2, I'm halfway through Path of Fire on my Mechanist.

In the next post, tomorrow or Friday, I will talk about why I think I have twice burned out on World of Warcraft.  That was the blog post I intended to write today, but all the above came pouring out.

Cheers,

Joar



Thursday, August 3, 2023

Blaugust 2023: Regular Updates and Thoughts on FanFest

 Guild Wars 2

I'll start this week's update with Guild Wars 2.  I've been working on getting my Mechanist caught up on current story content.  I'm almost done with Living World Season 3, so I will be ready to head off to the Path of Fire expansion soon.  I thought about catching up on this character before the next expansion drops, but I don't think there's even remotely the time to do that.  Plus, I'm still enjoying leveling my other jobs in FFXIV, so I'm not quite willing to walk entirely away from that yet.  

I've also been working on additional zone completion on my Necromancer, who is coincidentally also working through the Living World Season 3 zones.  

Elder Scrolls Online

I've been working through Murkmire on my Magicka Templar.  It's a piece of additional content that I never did, and I enjoy spending a little bit of time back in the Elder Scrolls world.  

FFXIV

In Final Fantasy, I've been working on leveling three jobs - Dark Knight, Dragoon, and Fisher.  I noticed that I'd never bothered finishing up Fisher, so I'm using the Omicron quests to knock that the rest of the way out.  I'm probably only 2 days from being done.  

I'm enjoying both Dark Knight and Dragoon so far.  The Dark Knight is about to hit level 60, and the Dragoon is at 54.  The Dark Knight quests interest me, but the quest guy for the Heavensward thread isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.  



"Well, this is terrible.  The temple knights will never stop trying to kill her now!  OK, let's go back to Ishgard."

"Wait, what?  Um...hey...Captain Dark Genius?  If the temple knights are never going to stop trying to kill her, maybe we could pick a hang-out spot....I don't know...maybe anywhere in the world other than Ishgard?  Just a thought."

I also watched the keynote address from FanFest last week.  Everything is obviously very short on details at this point, and I'm not sure we've seen enough to tell if this is the beginning of a new overarching storyline or if this is intended to just be an interlude. However, it feels like more of the latter.  

For me, FFXIV is more about the stories, the characters, and an interesting setting.  I don't really need it to be some massive heart-pounding endeavor.  I'd probably be fine watching Zero and G'raha freak out about tacos between various dungeon runs.  So I'm generally optimistic about what I've seen from Dawntrail so far.  

I'm curious what the two new jobs will be, and the general roles described are ones that I enjoy playing, so that would be great for me.  I'm looking forward to the next FanFest and hearing more.  It seems like I have plenty of time to accomplish my in-game goals before it will be released, which is also a relief.

That's it for now. 

Cheers,

Joar

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Blaugust 2023: It's Not You, It's Me



This is my fourth or fifth time participating in Blaugust.  In previous iterations, I didn't always include the note in my post titles, so it's a little hard to tell.  I've been writing this blog for over fourteen years now.  The first several years were definitely my most prolific, with the first full calendar year of the blog having a total of 77 posts, almost 30 more than the next highest output total, 2 years later with 49.  All that being said, I've always managed to keep up a pace of at least once a month, with 21 posts being my lowest total ever in 2021.  

When this blog started, it was exclusively about World of Warcraft.  I was a relatively new player at the time, but I had a plan to try to level a character of each class to the maximum level. I started playing during the original Burning Crusade expansion but developed this plan during Wrath.  It took me around a year and a half to complete the goal.  That goal then expanded to a character from each class from each faction and then got completely out of hand during Legion when I ended up with over 40 max-level characters.  

As I worked through these goals, I would diligently track my leveling time for each character and sometimes write about which leveling paths I found to be the fastest.  At some point, because I'm a financial guy in real life, I also started writing analyses of Activision-Blizzard's earnings releases and conference calls, back when you could actually glean meaningful information about World of Warcraft from those.

About two years in, I start also playing and writing about other games, starting with RIFT but eventually expanding to include Wildstar, SWTOR, FFXIV, Elder Scrolls Online, and Guild Wars 2.  I tend to keep this blog very gaming focused and rarely post anything personal here, although that has changed a little bit in recent years.  Generally, it tends to be a weekly or bi-weekly update on what I've been doing in the games I play.

The blog is intended to be more of a personal journal for me than something I expect to be widely read or utilized.  It's a way to document my gaming journey and a nice distraction to sit down and regularly write stuff that has nothing to do with finance or accounting.  If the only writing I ever did was accounting memos and financial statement footnotes, I don't think that would be great for my personal development or mental health.  

On Thursday of this week, I'll publish my regular update on how things have been going with the various games I play and my initial thoughts on the FFXIV Fan Fest.

Cheers,

Joar

Trying the MOP Remix

I'll cover this update by game since I've been somewhat active in pretty much everything except FFXIV in the last few weeks: World o...