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Calfgrit11 Graduates from Elementary School

Calfgrit11 is graduating from elementary school today. He’ll start middle school next month. We went to the middle school open house a week ago, and Calfgrit15 took the lead to show his little brother around the school.

It was a sweet bonding moment for them. It was just coincidence that they happened to wear the same colors that day.


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Drivers Ed

Calfgrit15 just finished up his 30 hours of drivers ed at high school. The schedule is a bit different than when I took it back in the 80s. I remember taking the class one hour a day for about a month, during the regular school day — I think it was during the PE/Health class time. But nowadays, (at least in this area), the class is after school, for three hours a day over two weeks. Although it is held in a high school classroom, it’s not offered as part of the regular school curriculum — we parents have to enroll the student on our own.

Another difference is what is presented in the class. I remember learning the rules of the road in the classroom, and then going driving with the instructor all in the same month. Now, though, the 30 hours he just completed were all classroom instruction, (no actual driving, yet). The instructor and a state trooper extensively covered the dangers of driving — especially texting while driving. They won’t actually hit the road in a vehicle for another month or two (or more).

The dangers of texting and driving were a very prominent aspect of the instruction. It’s a really big deal, I understand.

At the end of the two weeks, we parents were invited in for an hour. The instructor reiterated her plea against texting and driving, even showing us a YouTube video:

The instructor explained how our kids are watching us drive. As homework, she told them to observe their parents, and then she had them write down some bad habits they witnessed. She picked up a stack of papers and one-by-one, she read the bad habits the students had written down about us. Every single paper included texting. Wow. (I assumed she cherry picked the papers with that specific problem to make her point on the prevalence of texting and driving.) There were one or two other bad things, also, like speeding or putting on makeup. I wondered what bad habit Calfgrit15 caught me doing. Probably not coming to a full stop at stop signs, or maybe not keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times — I know I sometimes do both those things.

I never intentionally speed, and I never text while driving, (and I very rarely apply makeup while driving). I’ve never been a speeder — my mother even thinks I drive slow (the speed limit!). And even if I was so asinine as to want to text while driving, I can’t read anything that small without my reading glasses on (which I don’t wear while driving). At the worst, if I must know what a text says while driving, (very, very rarely), I just ask Siri to speak it for me.

When Calfgrit15 is in the car with me, he doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to my driving. He’s either looking at his phone, reading a book (something he can do but I can’t while riding in a car), or talking to me about video games. He has shown no interest at all in driving, even when I keep offering to take him to an empty parking lot to let him practice a little. He’s driven once around a parking lot one time out of the dozen times I’ve offered. So I was interested to know what and when he actually observed about my driving.

As we were leaving the parent/class meeting, I asked Calfgrit15 what bad habit he saw me doing. “I didn’t really pay attention,” he said.

“Did you fill out the homework paper?” I asked. “What did you write down for my bad habit?”

“Yeah,” he said, “I just filled in something generic, like texting.”


“You said I text while driving? Oh my god.” I held up my hands in exasperation. “The way she preached against that, I’d be less embarrassed if you told her I shoot a gun at other drivers.”

I wondered, and I hope, those homework papers were anonymous. My son officially told a drivers ed teacher, (and maybe a state trooper?), that I regularly text while driving. O. M. G. !


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World of Warcraft: First time Molten Core and Blackwing’s Lair

*** This was originally posted to the official World of Warcraft forums. ***

This post is long, and is about an old subject that you may find utterly boring.

TL;DR: Molten Core and Blackwing’s Lair are mostly really fun for players who aren’t jaded by knowing exactly what to expect.

Some of you may recognize me as the guy who plays WoW with his two sons. We have been running as many dungeons as we can as a 3-man team. We are currently:
Tauren protection paladin 65 (15 year old)
Tauren elemental shaman 65 (11 year old)
Tauren restoration shaman 65 (me)

We have had great fun running 5-man dungeons. We all sit in the same room, so we are able to quickly and easily communicate during our adventures. We have taken all the runs slowly so we can enjoy the whole experience, and because we are just 3 instead of 5.

Usually we can read the description of the dungeon and the bosses, so we have an idea of what we are up against. But this weekend we wanted to explore Molten Core and Blackwing’s Lair, and the description for raids is not available in the in-game page. (I think we have to be level 100 to get the raid tab?) I know these raids are for 40 players, but we are 5 levels and one game expansion over them, so we figured we’d have an easy time. We had previously delved briefly into AQ, so we knew how being a game expansion higher gives a boost against previous expansion mobs.

Molten Core

We found the standard (60 elite) mobs in the beginning to be knock overs for our level, so we kind of just ran rampant over most of them. Although an unfortunate stun or knock-back combined with us not really taking the fights cautiously caused a couple of deaths. Only against the bosses did we have any real fights, and they were not truly challenging. <- This was all expected for our being over-leveled.

The most memorable thing to me about MC is how excited my sons were to encounter the bosses. They know and love WoW lore. Even seeing some bosses whose names I’ve never heard of before, excited them greatly. All the, “That’s XXX! I see XXX! I want to get a screen shot of him! Cover me a second,” brought a big ol’ smile to my daddy face. They were extremely excited to see Ragnaros “in person”. I imagine it was like taking kids to a sporting event and getting to meet some of the athletes. I admit I’m a huge dork. :-) And apparently so are my kids :-)

We got a lot of loot, but sadly nothing anyone was excited about. We knew we wouldn’t find anything useful, but we hoped to get some cool transmog stuff. I died in the battle against Ragnaros when I couldn’t get out the lava after being knocked back into it.

Blackwing’s Lair

BWL proved more troublesome for us mostly, I think, because we had no knowledge of the fight mechanics. When we walked into the first main area, we decided to take on Razorgore first. Made sense at the time. But when we killed him and then he wiped us(?!), we had to figure out what happened. I suspected it was an egg-caused apocalypse, so we decided to destroy the eggs before taking on Razorgore. But we couldn’t interact with the eggs.

So we decided to take on the mobs on the platform opposite Razorgore. After easily killing them, our tank tested activating the orb. There was confusion among us as he explained to us that he had control of Razorgore.

Tank: “I can see through Razorgore’s eyes!”
Healer: “What the heck are you talking about?”
DPS: “Razorgore is coming this way!”
Healer: “Oh crap!”
Tank: “I’m Razorgore!”

It took several seconds for us to understand what was going on. It probably would have made a good comedy routine to hear the discussion, something like Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on first.”

Anyway, I asked if he could interact with the eggs. He said yes, so I directed him to destroy them. Then all the other mobs started spawning. It took a minute to really get the understanding and hang of exactly what was going on and what we were supposed to do, but once we got it, it was super great fun. The tank used Razorgore to destroy the eggs, I kept RG alive with heals, and DPS killed the mobs. A long battle and really fun.

But then, we fought Vaelastrasz. The tank and DPS worked him down fairly easily. I only cast a couple of barely needed riptides. But then just a few seconds before V was killed, the DPS dropped dead. “What the heck? He was fully healed!” Then the dragon died, and then I died. “What again!” The tank stood there looking at our two corpses, asking, “How did you die?” No one knew how we died. So he started to rez me, and then he dropped dead. “wha…?” I’ve since learned that V gives a buff/curse that will eventually kill the target. Hmm. Not fun, that. Maybe it’s not so bad against a full raid-sized party who probably wouldn’t wipe from it. But for us as a 3-man team, it made an otherwise interesting encounter frustrating.

We moved on through the dungeon. In one room with two sets of mobs, we chose to skip one and just take on the one actually between us and the doorway. But halfway through the fight, I got knocked backward right into the other pack of mobs. We wiped. For all future fights in the Lair, we made sure to have our backs to a wall so if we got knocked back we wouldn’t go flying into another pack of enemies.

Later we started fighting groups that could turn one of us into a squirrel. It was so nice to actually, finally, get to use dispel abilities. Someone would shout, “I’m a squirrel,” and then someone else would hit them with a dispel. Such a simple thing, but it makes me feel like I can do more than just rotate through 3 or 4 basic abilities.

Then we made our way through the slow-trap room. Hmm. That. Hmm. A neat idea, and interesting for a minute. But after that minute, it got so annoying. I’m not sure how that slow room fits with the overall atmosphere/feel of the dungeon. It just felt like an annoying gimmick. It didn’t make the fight harder or more interesting. Just slower.

Then we came to a room with mobs all over the place. We chose one side of the room and worked our way along it (with our backs to the wall). At the end of the room, we tried to sneak past the four dragony-humanoidy things, but they aggroed on us. No problem. We took them on knowing the fight would be simple, but then all the other mobs in the room came running. I don’t know if one of us somehow aggroed them or if the mobs we were fighting called for them or something else. All we know is we went from fairly easily moving through the room with caution, to suddenly being overwhelmed, and wiped.

We rezzed at the dungeon entrance and started running back through. When we reached the slow room, and saw all the traps were reset, we stopped. Nope. Nah. Our interest in finishing dropped significantly. Besides, the Super Bowl was about to start. So we decided to give up on finishing Blackwing’s Lair at that time. Maybe we’ll go back next weekend. Or maybe we won’t. Jury is still out on that.

Overall Experience

So, overall, we did enjoy running these two old/classic raid dungeons with just the 3 of us.

MC was very easy (at our level), but my sons were most excited to just get to encounter the “famous” bosses.

BWL was more challenging (even at our level), even wiping us 4 times. This dungeon really showed how different a run can be between knowing and not knowing the fight mechanics. I don’t know if I’d say following the script was more or less fun than learning the play by going through it, (surviving or wiping), but it is definitely very different. I do know that I want to experience every dungeon without knowing it. Experiencing them completely ignorant of the script is very, very fun and exciting. Knowing and following the script can be fun too, but it’s in a completely different way.


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World of Warcraft: The Joy of Flying

*** I originally posted this to the official World of Warcraft forums. ***

My 11 year old son hit level 60 with his tauren shaman a few days ago. He immediately went to the trainer for flight training. Then he mounted up on his hearthsteed, and took to the skies in joy. He has flown all over Orgrimmar (landing on every tall building) and through several of the zones around it. He has asked to log onto WoW a couple times just to fly around.

I think it’s awesome that he’s getting such joy from this, and I just wanted to share.

But a sad, side note: while flying around Orgrimmar, he found a pair of level 100 taurens dueling on top of a mountain spire. They spit at him and made rude gestures. I don’t know what their problem was with someone just circling their peak-top duel, but whatever. He flew on and still enjoyed his new flying experience.


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