Monday, December 19, 2011

Working out again, and SWTOR goes live

 I haven't been writing as much this last week. That's mostly because I was really enjoying the Early Access I received for Star Wars: the Old Republic.

 I have been absent from MMOs for quite a while, but lately, I have a lot of free time in my evenings. I find it gives me some good diversion. Video Games are a poor substitute for having my wife around, but some things we just can't change.

 So, the outlet I found was SWTOR.

 I have to say, as far as new MMOs go, the Beta was impressive, and the pre-launch went really smooth. There have been complaints about FPS issues, which I have had; Lag issues, which I haven't, and the queue times for the servers.

 Well, it's brand new and they keep opening up new servers everyday, so I imagine that will be rectified.

 Other than that, all I have to say about the game is: It is awesome!

 It's no secret that I'm a huge Star Wars fanboy, so this is pretty much a dream for me. We had Galaxies before, and love it or hate it, it was what it was. I won't comment, as steered away from it by some gamers I trusted.

 As it is, SWTOR is what we have now, and I'm not disappointed in the least. The graphics are beautiful, if a bit stylized. The voiceover work is incredible. The big draw for me, though, is the stories.

 It isn't much of a surprise, as that is something Bioware does well, and has for a long time now. I actually care about the quests I'm moving through. I want to see where it goes next.

 WoW (which I played for 6 years) is a great game, but when it came down to it, it was a grind. All the early times I played were a grind to hit the level cap, so I could go raid. All the raiding was to go find better gear. The better gear let me raid more.

 In the end, it got to be like another job, so I stopped raiding and switched over to PvP. That was more like a job in the old days than raiding was. In the end, midway through Wrath of the Lich King, I realized I'd done it all before, and I quit, never to look back.

 Bioware made me care about the MMO again.

 So far, it is just fun. What a novel idea. One of the best things to come along, is the conversation options in your quests. Not only does it really give it a personalized feel, and you really get into the bits and pieces of your character's personality, but some of them are really entertaining.

 Meg has had a lot of fun helping me make my characters, so I have several female characters. The customization options are pretty good. Quite a bit better than WoW, though not as in-depth as CoH/CoV. My daughter had fun with it though. So did I.

 So, I don't know where the game will be a year or two from now, but right now, on the eve of the official launch, I have really high hopes.

 In other news, I signed up for the Pennsylvania Tough Mudder up in the Poconos with a team of guys I work with. It is gonna hurt, but it is gonna be a lot of fun. So today, I also started working out again. I have a little over 5 months to prepare.

 Robin always told me to spend less time thinking about things I want to do, and just doing them. So I said, 'what the hell', and went with it.

 Here is the link if you wan't to make any donations on my behalf to the Wounded Warrior Project, which Tough Mudder is a HUGE supporter of.

 The way I see it, this is a way to thumb my nose at the shit this last year was. The best way I can think of to get past everything is to go harder. If I can get through losing Robin, I can get through anything.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is new

 Some of you might have noticed I was messing around with this blog today. I have been. I decided to broaden the scope of it. My blog about Robin, and her struggle is not going to change. It is special to me, and it is focused solely on that process.

 This blog, on the other hand, is a constantly evolving clearing house for the rest of my life. So I made it reflect that.

 The martial arts have been a huge part of my life for a long time, but I realize there are so many other things I want to write about as well. So I opened it up.

 Basically, I joined it with my short-lived blog about being a geeky dad, which I am. I made this a better reflection of me, and who I am growing into.

 So I plan to cover the broad scope of things that are important to me. My family, my writing, martial arts, gaming, and whatever else comes across the page.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Journey Ongoing

 I've decided that this will be the blog I journal most of everything to come. I came to this decision, because at this point in the journey of my life, I've started to look forward again. I decided to live.

 I spent a long time the other day talking to Keith after we were done training at the Dojo, as he has suffered loss in his life as well. Not to trivialize it by saying we were comparing notes, but in a sense we were. One of the commonalities we discovered, was that grief and everything that comes after is an open ended process. It's like a scar on your life. It might heal over, but it is never the same.

 During our discussion, I kept coming back to a lot of the ideas Hatsumi Sensei presented in his works, and one that has struck me profoundly is the Shinobi Wind.
 The Shinobi Wind is the feeling He got when talking to the picture of Takamatsu Sensei after his passing. It is the feeling you get when you are sitting out in those special places in the world, and you suddenly feel like you understand your direction in life.
 I felt the Shinobi Wind the first time in my life when I was at Word of Life in New York for a semester. I went out for a hike one day, no real direction. I hiked up a mountain that I cannot recall the name of.
 I got to the top of that mountain, and there was a clearing with a stone. I sat on that stone in the sunlight, and communed with God's creation. It is those moments when you are truly communing with God and everything He has made.
 It's those times when you slow down and sense and feel the word around you.

 It's those times when you are talking to someone you've lost, and you know they are still with you.

 It's those times when you are training, and you know the shinobi that have gone before are watching, knowing that their legacy is safe.

 Studying Ninjutsu came at the right time in my life. Being in the process of losing Robin, I was lost in a lot of anger and grief. I was losing hope. I indulged those feelings and they were destroying me. Then, on one of those random paths of life, we drove home and passed the sign for the dojo, and the process began.

 I believe that was the shinobi wind.

 I believe ninjutsu calls to certain people.

 Like one of my buyu, or "Warrior Friends", Jake said to me after I talked of realizing what a long road of training ahead: "That why people either quit, or do it for life."