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Category Archives: challenge topics

July Challenge: Something About Me – Becoming a Teacher & More

Ambermist’s July Challenge prompts us to write something personal about us, the people behind the blogs and the real faces to the characters we talk about so often. It’s funny, actually — if you’d asked me to write on this prompt a month ago, my answers would be very different. While brainstorming, I swayed between writing something heavy-hearted that I’ve opened up to accept recently, or just listing several small personal things about me. While Ninevi has been going through some changes lately (she’s Worgen now!) some parts of my real-life have been going through a shift, too. Here is my story!

The Academy (My residence for student teaching this upcoming semester)

Now, as somewhat of a warning, I get harped on a lot from friends and family about always talking about my jobs/school and being a workaholic. But to me, that’s my life and what feels like I put all of my passion into and thus defines a lot of who I am.

Early this July, I left my position as a research associate at a biotech lab because I was accepted to both grad school and a teacher residency program that I had interviewed for earlier this year. Don’t get me wrong — I love research in science, and I’ve enjoyed learning so, so much during the 5-6 years I’ve been exposed to the field. But I realized a couple of years ago that my heart isn’t completely there. Maybe it wasn’t so much that I loved research, but that I love science and innovation as a whole. I wanted to do something that reached out to more people and not just in academia and mingling among “distinguished” scientists. There was something missing from the picture, and it was being able to really contribute much to the community around me. There were no feelings of making significant differences or real satisfaction. Granted, I was but a small pawn out in the field and there wasn’t much for me to grow on unless I pursued a doctorate, but I finally came to realize that research was not something I could call a career and dedicate the rest of my life to.

After having worked with many local educational outreach programs in the major city nearby and also with undergraduates in my lab, I discovered a niche — teaching. I found myself feeling happiest and excited to engage with students and getting them likewise excited about science and math. Teaching and leading them opened an opportunity for me to shed my usual introverted, ISTJ-type personality and instead be engaging and less of the held-back, reserved, and overall shy person I’ve been for twenty some years of my life. And so I readily jumped on the residency & grad school program opportunities as soon as they came.

I’ve gone through a lot of (re)-discovering my personal identity as a teacher. The two classes I’ve had so far have examined social injustice and equity in education.  Some of the topics such as racism and classism touched too close to home. It was almost bizarre to me (an Asian-American woman who grew up in the Bible Belt portion of Southeastern USA) to hear fellow members of my program describe that they’ve never had experiences of interacting with people from different ethnicities/cultures. It made me realize I always see things in a different lens: in a room of 30 intelligent future teachers of various subjects, 29 were Caucasian, and 1 was…well, me! Having grown up being constantly racially profiled and stereotyped, it was glaringly obvious to me upon entering the classroom. But I wondered if my classmates and friends noticed?

Through discussion, we established that race is a socially constructed notion. Well, I agree. If only someone could explain that to classmates I met throughout grade school who unquestionably saw me as different. Even in online and gaming communities, there are stereotypes. These boxes of labels and over-generalized classifications — they’re everywhere. But how do I relate my experiences to my future students (likely in an urban, inner-city setting)? More importantly, how do I explain (or break down) the walls of social constructs to my future students? These are just some of the things that I’ve been brainstorming since starting my education program. The depth of the topics in social injustice is both disturbing and captivating — it’s something I never really touched on in my core studies in the hard sciences. Social science is so eye-opening, and I hope I can learn even more by getting to know my students and learning from their backgrounds and experiences.

There are a lot of things that drive me as a future teacher. One huge motivation is that I hope to inspire lesser-represented groups of youths (minorities and girls, especially) to be interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). And not just them, but I want to spark more interest in those subjects for all of my students and to show them what kinds of applications there are in everyday life as well as in future studies or careers if they so choose. In two weeks, I’ll begin my student-teaching hours in the classroom at a science and math academy. It’s a lottery-based, urban and public magnet school that pulls from the entire county. I’m incredibly excited and even more nervous and hope I don’t completely make a fool of myself. After all, I’ll have to come up with some way to capture their attention, and I’m hardly as verbose or rambly IRL than I am online and in writing! But perhaps that’s a good thing… :P

All in all, I’m excited and psyched for new beginnings and for changes to come. I know it’ll be a hard and oftentimes underappreciated job, and I know there are frustrating and hair-pulling times to come. But more than anything, I look forward to these challenges. If I can overcome that and make a difference by pushing my students towards being successful in school as well as becoming thriving citizens of society, I would be most pleased.

And just so this post isn’t completely dry work/study related and kind of super-serious, here are some photos of things that are dear to me… :)

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Tell Me a Story: Overheard in the Desert

When the MMO NBI month ended in May, Ambermist from Tastes Like Battle Chicken was kind enough to continue her challenges with monthly themes! This month’s topic was Tell Me a Story, where we were to write about something that’s happened to us or that we’ve witnessed in the games that we play. So let me tell you a couple very random and silly snippets of my adventures in Azeroth’s lovely deserts!1

Looking across just a corner of Uldum…

When I came back from my year-long WoW hiatus last winter and started playing Cataclysm, I immediately knew my favorite “new” zone was Uldum. The desert feel, architecture, and scattered oases were awesome! Not to mention the Tol’vir history was just fascinating. There was something in the sun, sand, and pseudo-Egyptian themes of the area that made me really fond of the place. I’m sure that like many other kids, I had that short-lived obsession or phase with Egyptian gods and goddesses during middle school! But that hardly seemed to answer the question of why I felt so nostalgic and “at home” every time I visited the deserts of Uldum.

Lately, I’ve found myself reminiscing the “good old days” where I used to play a lot more regularly and spent hour upon hour doing the silliest of things. Feeling nostalgic might be my way of feeling burnt out on the expansion, but I know can’t be alone in thinking so. I was browsing through my old journal a couple of days ago in hopes of finding old screenshots to use in upcoming flashback posts on this blog, but they had all been deleted or replaced via Tinypic. Instead, I noticed a lot of my old, happiest memories were of when I had just started playing WoW, especially while leveling in Tanaris! There must have been something about rolling around in the sand and sun that’s stuck with me all this time!

The (Not-So) Great Boat Game

Entrance to the Caverns of Time

Back in Burning Crusade when I was leveling in Tanaris (early 40’s), I was running around exploring and was so curious about the entrance to the Caverns of Time and what laid inside! But my curiosity was quickly buried when a swarm of red names (I played on a pvp server back then) started gathering around the summoning circle, and I hid in one of the boats nearby to just watch as the Horde raiders prepared themselves.

The boat game of doom!

One of my closest friends in-game was kind enough to bring his higher-level gnome rogue, Auto, to sneak around with me in case any of the Horde were to spot and grief me. Like myself, he was easily amused by the silly little things in the game. And so we suddenly found ourselves in a contest to see who could jump from one wooden beam in the derelict, sand-trodden boat to the other end. It was terribly hard, and with me and my track record with stairs and steps and jumping of platforms (I’m looking at you, Thaddius), it did not bode well. Auto gleefully jumped back and forth between the wooden boards, while we both laughed at my failures of getting in the right spot to jump over! (I call cheating with his short gnome-ness and easier maneuverability!)

Suddenly, all I heard over Ventrilo was, “Great…I’m stuck.” I turned around, and dear Auto had somehow gotten himself into a weird glitch where he was pinned between the wooden beams!

Ninevi: Quick, use your Hearthstone!
Auto: It’s on cooldown!!
Ninevi: Use the auto-unstuck tool! (Oh, the irony…!)
Auto: I did! It moved me a whole 2 inches and turned me in a different direction! And now it’s on cooldown…

Running around the boat to look for an escape!

A great few minutes elapsed, as he frantically wiggled his short gnomish legs around the wood beams in desperation to set himself free. It was hilarious. I wish I had pictures. Thank goodness the Horde had gone into the Caverns by then, because they would have taken the chance to roast us sitting ducks for sure! Or maybe they would have stopped dead in their tracks and laughed at the strange sight. Half of Auto’s head (fully pink-bearded and all) was visible, and from in between the beam, two short little legs were seen running furiously in place and in vain. It was too hard for me to keep from laughing out loud!

Auto: I don’t know what to do!
Ninevi: Me neither…hmm, wait! Maybe you can duel me! And it’ll let you Shadowstep out of the spot?
Auto: Okay, let’s try it…maybe it’ll work.

…it didn’t work. And somehow, I’d lost much of my health (just one accidental swing from him was ouch!) and to make matters worse, I was also stuck in the boat.

Ninevi: Oh no, now I’m stuck too…!
Auto: Great…I’m still stuck in a boat.

Soon enough, we had another guildmate (Val) who was in a nearby zone, and he wanted to see what all the fuss was about and why we were making such a ruckus in the chat channel. We invited him to group and waited patiently for him to come by and join in the fun, but it must have been at least 15-20 minutes or so of silence and more frantic wiggling in place before we finally heard something from him.

Val: Guys, I still don’t see you…
Ninevi: ………(lol)
Auto: VAL. YOU. ARE. AN. IDIOT!

The tone of Val’s voice was so innocently lost that it didn’t help me and my nonstop laughing about the terrible situation, and although Auto was laughing as well, I’m sure he was actually very worried about possibly having to submit a ticket to get us moved. Val finally did find us, and thankfully he and his rowdy imp didn’t get caught in the boat as well, or it would have been a snug crowd in between those planks! But unfortunately for an increasingly cranky gnome and four furry paws, it was getting late in the hour, and we were still stuck and without a useful cooldown. So we decided to part ways for the night and return in the day to hearth back home and out of the deathgrip of the abandoned boat!

And we’ve never tried to play another jumping game since…

Of Bagels & Ogres

Being distracted by jokes while sneaking around ogres is dangerous! The probably sensed my ROFL-ing…

Bagel you say…? Me no likey dead pink fish on bagel…

And finally, a very random conversation I found saved in my old journal from when I was doing the ogres questline in Tanaris…

Guildmate: Found breakfast! Apparently they have bagels in Bladespire…that’ll go well with my coffee! :D
Ninevi: What, they have bagels??! I want one…
Guildmate: Bagels are weird, lol. They annoy me! O_O
Ninevi: LOL Why?! Bagels are omnomnom…
Guildmate: COMPACTED BREAD!
Ninevi: WHAT
Guildmate: NO…RUBBER BREAD.

I…I don’t really know. But since then, whenever I run across ogres anywhere in-game, I always imagine them hiding lox and bagels in their pockets! (And secretly hope that they’ll drop some as loot one day, and I can eat it…omnomnom!)

Randomness aside, I guess I really am a bit notorious amongst my guildmates for digging around the deserts for archaeology fragments and spamming Archaeology nodes in Gatherer in hopes of finally finding just the right canopic jar one day! I’m sure they’ve called me out on playing in the sand when I should be doing something more productive like fishing for feast mats or working on other professions, but I usually just continue digging around, goofing off, and soaking up sun… :P

1 I realized after writing this post that it was kind of a terrible idea to think about sun and heat, after a week of weather in the 100+’s (and devastating wildfires throughout many places!) If only the blazing heat and sunshine were as lovely and nice as they are in-game. Sending hopes & prayers to the families affected by the fires recently! :(

MMONBI 2012 – That’s A Wrap & The Final Challenge

Can you believe it is May 31st already? It feels like it was just yesterday when I discovered the MMO Newbie Blogger Initiative! For me, it’s been an awesome month of meeting new people, learning from one another, and discovering that blogging is a fantastic outlet that serves as both a fun hobby and a great vessel for networking. Hats off to Sypster for starting the Initiative and also to all the sponsors and participants for making it all an amazing experience!

Despite the month being over, I know that it’s just the beginning of my blogging adventure. There are so many more websites to explore, blogs to follow, and even people to meet through Twitter! As an innately introverted person, I think the blogging experience (and all the networking it comes with) has been very eye-opening in terms of putting myself out there to meet other bloggers, gamers, and hobbyists alike. I’m still tentative about what I publish and worry about judgement, but I’ve been truly humbled from the support of those who I’ve received comments, pingbacks, and even had an opportunity to chat with — I didn’t expect people to really read my ramblings! I still have yet to work on many of the hints and tips given, but those will come in time. I truly mean it in giving thanks to everyone that’s been supportive and for all who have given inspiration to myself and fellow new bloggers.

Week 5 Challenge: Sponsor Fellow New Blogs!

We’ve finally come to the end of Ambermist‘s MMONBI weekly challenges! It’s sad that we’re at the end of the challenges, as I’ve looked forward to them every week. Perhaps we’ll have some more in the future! In this final challenge she asks us to find and introduce three other blogs that participated in the NBI, with reasons for why we liked them. This was a tough one, as there were just so many participants and a ton of great blogs out there, covering a multitude of different games and topics! Since I also blog mostly from a WoW background, let me introduce you to three new Warcraft-centric blogs that I have very much enjoyed reading thus far!

URL:  http://healingmains.com
Authors: Eluna & Brae

First up on my list are the two lovely ladies that post at Healing Mains! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading their posts about user interface and addons for healers, as well as raid healing perspectives and guild management. Their posts regarding raid leading are also very insightful in showing how crucial the job is, especially when also healing! All in all, they cover about every aspect of healing that I enjoy in the game and remind me of why I’ve been so fond of healing all this time as well. I can’t wait to see what have in store for us in future posts!

URL: http://warlockery.com
Author: Amijade

Next is the blog of Amijade the Warlock — her dark humor and delightful prose from a warlock’s perspective have me smiling and deeply nostalgic of the days when I also frequently played my own lock. Her writing is what I really enjoy most about the blog — each post has incredible detail and is a great story in itself. She currently has a neat transmogrification contest going on right here — the Great Warlock Epitome Transmog Contest, where you can submit entries on how you feel the warlock class should be portrayed to the public! Very cool!

URL: http://mechalis.wordpress.com
Author: Prinnie

At That Was an Accident!, Prinnie takes us through the (mis)-adventures of Thermalix, Mechalis, and their many other Goblin friends on their journeys through Azeroth. Not a big fan of Goblins? Never fear, she also has many very interesting posts from a hunter’s perspective, several very spiffy transmogrification posts, and even this little gem where she has the cure for people who fail, a pill named Dammitol! I wonder what kind of hilarious adventure she will have to share with us next!

And a few more…

  • Image Heavy – A lovely screenshots and art collective, detailing adventures in Azeroth
  • Argus or Bust – Fantastic posts about shaman healing and also roleplaying in WoW
  • Gaming for Introverts – A very well-thought-out and insightful blog that examines the dynamics of various games

Please do check them out, as well as the many other participants of this year’s Newbie Blogger Initiative! Additionally, Syp posted a list of new blog participants, as well as several sponsor articles with helpful information. Shadowspawned has also compiled lists for newbie bloggers as well as all the sponsor blogs. The turnout was really incredible, and it’s inspiring to see so many fellow new bloggers out there! Here’s to hoping this is just the beginning, and I’ll see you guys around! :)

Week 4 Challenge: Tons and Tons of Totems

We’re nearing the end of May and the Newbie Blogger Initiative! For this week’s NBI Challenge, we were asked to research a topic that we have little knowledge about, learn something new, and report our findings! I chose to do some reading into shaman totems. While I have a shammy alt in the mid-50’s, I’ve always been confused about which totems were appropriate in which situation. Sure, I understand to drop an Earthbind Totem in a battleground to gain some distance from an enemy. But what if you’re in a raid with multiple shamans? Who drops what? And when? I didn’t have to dig too far to find a ton of information, so I’ll just cover some of the basics in this post — minus all the footnotes, of course! ;)

Indomitable totems are immune to Assault Drake’s Twilight Barrage!

Week 4 Challenge: Learning is Fun

Totems are the trademarks of the shaman class, and they serve as an essential tool in calling forth powers from each of the elements to aid in battle. There are four elements that shamans can call totems from (one of each element at a time) — Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Totems can’t be moved around, but they can be easily summoned and recalled. They not only provide nice enhancements to the shaman casting them, but other group members who are within range can gain from totem buffs, too.

Totems can be learned by shamans after completing a series of class-specific quests. The first totem that is learned is the Earth Totem, which has generally defensive capabilities. The second totem learned is the Fire Totem, which can deal fire damage as well as enhance damaging spells. The third totem is the Water Totem, which provides several restorative attributes. And finally, the last totem learned is the Air Totem, with many speed enhancing benefits. A shammy can only one totem of each element at a time. For instance, it’s not possible to have both Flametongue and Magma totems up at the same time since they both are Fire Totems.

Since Cataclysm hit, we were met with several new totem designs, as well as new races available for the shaman class. No longer did all shammies sport the same totems! I hopped onto the beta servers and rolled a premade shaman of each race, just to look at the different, shiny totems. Here they are below (including the Pandaren model, from upcoming Mists):

(Click on images for larger view… It took me longer than it really should’ve to take these screens!)

Troll Totems

Tauren Totems

Orc Totems

Goblin Totems

Draenei Totems

Dwarf Totems

Pandaren Kegs Totems

Most of the totems don’t stack, and since many provide a buff to the entire raid it isn’t necesary for more than one shaman to drop a Flametongue Totem, for example. This can go even more into detail regarding specific shaman specs in the raid composition, such as if you gain the Totemic Wrath buff from an elemental-specced shaman, then there is no need for anyone to drop a Flametongue Totem (See: Wowpedia, Which Totem to Drop). It gets pretty complicated, as several of the totem buffs not only work with additional buffs from shammy talent specialization, but also match similar buffs from other classes! (ie: Paladin Blessing of Might vs Mana Spring Totem.) Thankfully, Zarac over on Wowhead made this handy dandy map showing the cross-over of all buffs, which makes it much easier to decide what combination(s) of totems to use in which situations. Of course, considerations should always be made depending on whatever spec the shammy is, and if still leveling or just playing solo then the selection in totems is less rigid and complicated.

This led me to think — are there addons that can simplify totem organization?? I remember how much I loved the paladin addon, PallyPower, back when you had multiple paladins in raid and didn’t know who should use Blessing of Kings, Might, Wisdom, or even Sanctuary. And then there were all the different auras! Nowadays, we have it far too simple — more than often, I’ll have a druid in the raid with Mark of the Wild, and I only need to throw up a Might. With the many totems that shammies have, it seemed logical to have a kind of ShammyPower or similar. Upon searching, I ran across a very old (2008!) blog post by Salanthe over at Totem of Wrath about this very issue. In addition, I found two addons — Totemus and RaidTotems — but it seems that neither have been really up to date. My only assumption is that people use other trackers (maybe Power Auras, etc.) instead.

Overall, in my brief researching of totems and shamans in general, I learned a great deal about one of the remaining classes I’ve had little experience in playing! Despite that, I feel like I’ve definitely only scraped off a tiny tip of the iceberg in terms of all the shaman databases out there …and I haven’t even touched lore! For now, I’m somewhat satisfied with what I’ve learned in regards to my lowbie shammy alt, but I definitely know there’s still a lot more to learn if I ever intend on raiding on her! Such is the never-ending thirst for more knowledge… :)

Week 3 Challenge: I can haz main?

Week 3 Challenge: What’s My Main Again?

In this week’s NBI Challenge, Ambermist asks us to talk about our main characters. This is an interesting topic to me because I have so many characters that I really enjoy playing, and it’s often hard for me to pinpoint just one specifically that I can dub my “main.”

“What, I’m not your main?!” she exclaims. Flabbergasted, the sad tree!druid proceeds to hit you with her branches!

For some people, their main is determined by whichever character they raid most frequently or collect achievements and so on. As such, I often referred to my paladin as my main during WotLK since I raided as a core healer and had the most achievements on her. But what happens to your main of several years when you shelve them for an  indefinite hiatus during the next expac? Such was the case after I witnessed a huge fallout with a new guild during Cata. Not going much into detail, but the guild was led abusively and poorly, where in the end the GM ragequit and server/faction transferred his entire army of toons. Motivation to keep playing? Not so much, especially since one of my best friends (a main tank in the raid group) felt the same and decided it was time for a break from the game. And so I rolled a new character on the other faction and my rogue was born.

Here we are at the end of Cata. If you asked me now who my main is, I’d still have difficulties in deciding. I no longer raid, apart from an occasional LFR (but I don’t really consider that the same, plus only my warlock really still needs gear from there). I tend to run achievements on my rogue, but overall point-wise she is about equal to my paladin, albeit different achievements. For the fun factor, Ninevi is definitely my goofball of choice. As for played time, my paladin still reigns supreme with ~68.5 days (1579 hrs), my rogue and lock around 25 days (600 hrs), and my druid at 12 days (288 hrs).

I guess now that I’ve played a significant amount of time at level cap with the above mentioned four characters, they comprise what I consider my “main group.” I’ve spent enough time with them to understand the classes and know what I’m doing right and wrong and where there’s room for improvement. During that time, each of them has grown to be extremely dear to me and I enjoy playing them all. The other day, I was talking to my friend Pneu (who recently started playing WoW) about how I had scribbled out some bio-sketches of my characters during lunch break at work. Was it silly of me? After all, I don’t even role play. (It’s perhaps the one last thing I’ve yet to experience in my WoW career!) After some thought, I decided…no. It’s not really that absurd. WoW is an MMORPG after all, and it makes sense that I’ve played so much of each of my characters that they’ve developed their own personality and become who they are. I went ahead and created an introductory page to my characters linked at the top of my blog just for this purpose. While I’ll save this blog post from being too long and reiterating the character page, feel free to visit the above link if you’d like to continue reading and meet my four main characters! :)