Sunday, September 27, 2009


Next time I come to Hawaii, I need to schedule our time on Oahu first then go to the other islands to wind down. This place has crazy traffic, a spaghetti mess of roads, and streets that all sound the same.

Oh, and no parking lot is safe from thieves (thankfully, as of yet, I have not had a break in). So, snorkeling on the beach? Well, we'll have to take turns as we don't have anyone to watch our stuff. We might as well be in Mexico or some other Caribbean backwater. sheesh.

Alrighty, just to catch you all up to speed:

Friday night, we went to Haleiwa Joe's. The food was excellent, but let me tell you....the beer....they had.....THE Beer! Deschuttes Black Butte Porter. As soon as I found out it was on tap, I ordered a pint! Yummy yummy yummy!!! It's been at least four years since I had that beer. /sigh, I was in heaven.

Saturday, I went SCUBA diving with Ocean Concepts. The dive was a three tank dive with dives scheduled for afternoon, evening (dusk), and night. What they turned out to be was afternoon, afternoon, and dusk, so I was a little disappointed that we didn't dive in total darkness.

As far as the quality of the dives, they were pretty good. We did two dive sites with the first being 100 feet and the second 80 feet. We dove the second site twice; the second was just after sunset.

At the first site, we saw the head of a pretty big moray eel sticking out of a hole, lots of fish, and an old airplane. The visability was decent, and I didn't have any problems with my gear or with my equalization.

The second dive was at an old landing craft that had been sunk to create an artifical reef. We did a swim through the cabin, which was new for me. I cut my hand on something and started chumming the water for sharks. None showed up. We also saw some lobsters, a number of fish, and little moray eels.

The last dive was technically a night dive, as we started after the sun went down, but in reality, it was dusk for a while. We all had dive lights, and we attached glow sticks to our tanks so we could see each other. There wasn't too much difference except that it was darker and visability wasn't as good. I thought we'd see the stuff that was active during the night, but I don't think we waited long enough to let the light fade.

I had a bit of a problem with my bouyancy this time on the swim through and had to let some air out of my BCD (Bouyancy Control Device - my SCUBA vest, for lack of a better term). It wasn't very easy to let the air out in the confined space, but I managed to make it happen...oh, yeah, in the dark too. That was the one place where it really was dark without the dive light.

We saw a ghost shrimp, a spiny lobster, and some red fish that I didn't see on the previous dive, so I guess some of the nocturnal creatures were waking up. And, at the end of the dive, I turned off my light and waved my hand around in the water to see the bioluminescence. I saw a couple of "sparks", but not too much.

And today, we hiked Diamond Head. It was a bit challenging as the hike is up hill - sometimes almost straight up hill as there are two long stair sets and a shorter spiral staircase, but the view from the top was worth it! We could see almost all of the southern shore of Oahu. It was really impressive.

And that's about it! We head home on Wednesday and hope to get in some snorkeling on Tuesday and maybe the flea market on Wednesday before we leave. Aloha!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Island Cooking!

Today we went to the farmer's market here in Hilo, HI. The fresh produce was absolutely amazing! There were mangoes, papayas, avocados, lettuce, Maui onions, ginger, and a whole lot more! / was almost overwhelming.

I have been wanting to cook something that includes some of the Hawaiian produce, but, hey, I'm on vacation, right? Meh, I decided to whip something up anyways.

So, I bought some Maui onions, a mango, and some fresh mahi-mahi and here's what I did:

1 small (Maui) onion - diced
1 inch fresh ginger - chopped (yes, I peel my ginger!)
5 cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Salt to taste
1 medium mango - diced into 1 cm pieces
10 macadamia nuts - quartered
2 tbs fresh cilantro - chopped (optional)
1-2 lbs mahi-mahi filets

I sauted the onion and ginger in a little olive oil on medium heat until the onions were translucent. I added the cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon and continued cooking the mixture until the edges of the onions were brown.

Add the mangoes, salt to taste, macadamia nuts, and 1 tbs cilantro and continue frying the mixture and watch for some of the sauce to start caramelizing. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, get the grill hot and throw a little salt and pepper on the filets. When the grill is nice and smokin', slap those bad boys (that would be the fish) on the grill and cook them until they're done. I usually turn the grill down to 400 degrees or so after the meat is seared.

FLIP ONCE! As will all other grilling, you only want to flip the fish once, so make sure it's done on the first side before flipping.

Once the mahi-mahi is done, put the filet on a plate and spoon some of the mango mixture onto it. If desired, sprinkle a little cilantro on the top to finish it off. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Slackin' on Island time

Ok, ok, so, I haven't been updating the blog on my Hawaiian vacation. Time to get crackin', eh?

On Friday, we had a big adventure over on Kauai while exploring Waimea canyon. We drove to the top and stopped at several points along the way to see the "Mini grand canyon." It was absolutely beautiful!

Then, I had the bright idea of hiking a bit to see some falls. Unfortunately, after about a mile hike, we came to a couple of trails that branched off sign as to which one led to the falls.


So, I made my best guess. And we hiked....and hiked....and then my wife stopped and said she'd wait for me.....and I hiked....and hiked....

I never did find the falls, but I did hike almost all the way to the next pull out. Doh! Oh, and did I mention that it started to rain? Yeah....

So, we hiked back to the car looking like drowned rats with nothing to show for our little adventure.

Fast forward to yesterday, and we're on the Big Island! We hooked up with Safari Helicopter tours for a 45 minute tour of the volcano, lava, lava falls, and waterfalls.

Now, this was a great adventure! We got to see some new surface lava flows, lava flowing into the sea, and a whole lot of waterfalls. It was really cool! Oh, also, it was in a freakin' HELICOPTER!!!! WOOOOT! We had a blast!

On Monday, we went to Volcano national park, the Southern most bakery in the U.S., and one of Hawaii's beautiful black sand beaches. It turned out to be quite a bit of driving.

While we're here on the Big Island, we're staying at Aaron's Cottages. We've enjoyed talking with Alan and Penne, the owners and petting their two beautiful Dalmations. It's nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but close enough to be just a few minutes away.

If you go to the Big Island, you have to go to Ken's House of Pancakes. Not only will you find local cuisine, but also local wildlife! Hey, you're in the "real" Hawaii now, Houle!

Alrighty, that's about it. I'll try to put together some sort of better thought out post tomorrow....or maybe not...Aloha!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goods vs. Services

Supply and demand curves react differently to an item depending on whether it is a good or a service. Typically, if I have a demand for a particular item, then if that item's price to me is zero, I will consume as much as I want of that item and even over consume that item.

I stipulate "have a demand for" because there are some things in this world for which there exists no demand. None, absolutely zero, you can't give it away. Say, dog poop, for example. I have quite the supply, but can't seem to find a demand for it. Hmmmm, I wonder why not...

Anyways, if a good is free to me, my only limitation on consumption or amassing great quantities of said item are physical limitations. Do I have enough space to store it? Is my stomach big enough to hold it? If I bought you the universe, where would you put it?

If a service is free to me, my limitation (other than can my body withstand the service) is time. In the case of medical care, I'm pretty much limited to one procedure at a time - messy things happen if you try to stick me in two MRI's at the same time.

Time is also the limiting factor on the supply side; in medicine, for example, the doctor can only see one patient at a time, the MRI can only scan one patient at a time, the phlebotomist can only draw one person's blood at a time. The exception to this is the Biomed Tech that can tell multiple people that they are wrong at the same time; we are special....

So, only so many doctor visits, procedures, scans, etc, can be done per hour/day. Even with 24/7 coverage, there is a time limit to the amount of medical service that can be provided. After 24/7 coverage, the only way to expand capacity is to add more doctors, equipment, medical staff, and hospital rooms.

And we are currently experiencing a doctor and nurse shortage in the United States. I've experienced this recently - my wife was going to have to wait three or four days for an appointment with a neurologist. Since she works for a doctor, she had her boss pull some strings and got seen that very day.

My point is that waiting for an appointment is the natural outcome of a service shortage. I see this at the VA I work at in the MRI department where patients have to wait a month or more for that "free" MRI.

See, the government will have two choices in providing health care for everyone: Deny it or extend the wait time. Expanding the medical work force isn't an option unless the government is planning on forcing people to become doctors - yeah, that's the guy I want diagnosing my illnesses.

Nope, you have to get in line; for an example of this, we only have to look north to Canada, where the average wait time for an MRI is 10.1 weeks. Lucky for those guys they have the United States, where they can get right in if they pay their own money.

Most of the complaints that I've read about wait times in the United States are related to seeing one particular practitioner or facility (Mayo Clinic, anyone?), whose reputation commands more of a demand. If a person were to shop around, they are sure to find a practitioner that can see them sooner with care that may or may not be as good as the preferred service.

And finally, with services that are perceived to "free" or "free to me", demand rises (as long as a demand exists in the first place.) I provide this blog free to anyone who wants to read it, but I still haven't seen a huge demand for it.

Let's look at an example. Recently, I went to the doctor because I had a sniffle. In the past, head colds like this one have descended into my chest and caused a month long cough. Since I'm going on vacation and A DOCTOR'S VISIT ONLY COSTS ME $20 (note the emphasis there), I decided to see the doc, get some drugs, and nip this thing in the bud.

An aside, no, I wasn't able to see MY doc, but I did get to see A doc in the same office the same day I called for an appointment.

So, let's say that the same Dr. appointment cost me $200 instead of twenty; how willing would I be to be seen for a little cold? Not very willing, I can tell you, even with my history.

See, that's the problem (and I'm part of it), right now, insurance artificially lowers the cost to me for my health care; if the cost drops to the floor, I have all the more reason to put a bigger demand on the medical care system because it doesn't (directly - well, at the moment of service) cost me anything.

I'd go for every single sniffle, bump, bruise, headache, hangnail, scrap, and malady - real or imagined. Ok, maybe I wouldn't, but you know there are people who will, and our already overtaxed health care system gets slammed with a huge increase in demand to which the government's response will be of necessity either No or Wait.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Beach time!

Today, we hit the beach! Poipu beach, to be exact.

I was intending to do some boogie boarding, but the location wasn't conducive to that activity. Rocks and the coral reef just don't make good landing spots...and the beach was too steep and the waves too small where they came ashore.

Now, offshore a bit, there were some wonder waves that the locals were surfing on, so it was fun watching them.

So, mostly, we just played in the water and fought the current. Good exercise, that.

We also saw two sea turtles really close to the shore, which was cool for my wife to see. I had seen a bunch the other day on my dive.

This morning, we went out to the National Botanical Gardens here in Kauai. It was pretty cool to see all the plant life. I didn't know that the vast majority of the plants on the islands are not native to Hawaii! A number of them were transplanted by the Polynesians, and others came after Captain Cook put the islands on the map.

Oh, and some idiot introduced mosquitoes in the late 1800's. I'm sure he didn't mean to, but sheesh!

Anyways, tonight we're off to the Beach House. I'll write more tomorrow as I skipped yesterday and our grand adventure! Aloha!

Friday, September 18, 2009

He who pays the piper calls the tune

Reference for the title.

So, the last two posts discussed the concepts of what is free (nothing is) and where the government gets the money to do all this "free" stuff.

Now comes the rub.

If you and I go out to dinner at a nice restaurant, and I say I'll pay, your first reaction is WOOT!, but your second reaction will tell a lot more about what kind of person you are, what kind of relationship you think you have with me, and what kind of manners you may have.

It will also tell you what kind of person I am, what kind of relationship I think I have with you, and what kind of manners I may have.

If you look over the menu and select a moderately priced meal without my prompting, we will find out together that your manners are appropriate, I'm not a freakin' tightwad, and we know each other well enough (or not well enough so that extra polite manners kick in) to not cause a confrontation.

If, however, you look over the menu and decide that tonight is the perfect time to have that caviar stuffed lobster with the $500 bottle of wine, we will probably have some disagreement.

Of course it's obvious why we might come to this point: I'm paying.

My options in the latter case include paying for the outrageous meal or not paying for the outrageous meal (or paying part). Since I'm a one or zero type of guy, we'll leave the "paying part" option off the table.

If I refuse to pay for that dish, either you pick something that I will pay for, or you pay for it yourself (or you don't eat). If you don't have the money or are prevented from paying for it yourself, your options are narrowed to picking something I'll pay for or not eating.

And finally, how does this apply to government run health care? It's pretty simple: Since the government is the one who is paying, they get to decide what they'll pay for. And while most bureaucrats aren't evil or malicious, they will make logical evaluations on what to pay for and what they won't pay for.

I mean, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that paying for an MRI, CT, Nuke Med, hip replacement, cath lab work, and other high cost procedures for a terminal cancer patient that's 110 years old just isn't cost effective no matter how compassionate a person you are.

Under our current system, that 110 year old patient can pay for all those things and more if they have the money regardless of what their insurance company may or may not pay ; under a government health care system, where the government is the sole payer, then the patient has no say in what medical treatment they receive.

First Day in Kauai

After a 30 hour day yesterday (Hawaii time is 6 hours behind Eastern time: 24 + 6 = 30), I was looking forward to relaxing today.

Well, we didn't. lol.

First off, I went on a dive at 7:30 am; it was just me and Scuba Steve. If you're going to Kauai, and thinking about diving, I highly recommend Steve! He was awesome!

First, he told me a little history about the dive site (coordinates: 21.879024,-159.468866 on google maps) and then told me about the wildlife that we would be seeing. I also learned a few new hand signals including "L" for lizardfish (not loser), the "hang loose" sign for "ok", and the "hang over" sign for "everything hurts."

We did two dives of 53 minutes and 56 minutes at 40 feet with about a half an hour shore time between them. We entered the water from the shore; this was my first time doing a shore dive.

Ok, the wildlife, cause I know you're itchin' to know. We saw some massive (3-4 feet long) sea turtles, several different kinds of trumpet fish, lots of parrot fish, convict tangs, and Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasses in their cleaning stations. We also saw a couple of Moray Eels.

All in all, it was a great dive!

Then, in the afternoon, my wife and I drove up to the North shore to the end of the road. We did a little shopping, a little walk on the beach, and a lot of Sunday driving! It was a great day for it too! Temperature was in the 80's, and the skies were partly cloudy. A nice breeze was blowing too.'s nice to be in paradise!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where does the Government get its money?

The common mantra that I hear today is that the government should such and such, or the government needs to pay for this or that, or the government needs to do something about some injustice.

The first question that comes to mind is with what money? And the answer is always the same:

My money.

See, the American government gets the vast majority of its money from its own citizens; let's look at how:

1. Taxes. Income tax, medicare tax, social security tax, capital gains tax, corporate tax, special blond haired winos tax, blah blah blah tax, and the list goes on and on. The individual taxes are easiest to see; all we have to do is look on our pay stub and see the deductions.

The corporate taxes are a bit messier to sort out, but rest assured, as long as night follows day, so the businesses will pay the tax and pass the expense on to the consumers. So, we end up paying those also.

2. Tariffs. Tariffs are taxes placed on goods imported into the country. While I don't know the percentage of the total income of the U.S. government that tariffs represent, I do know that, just like corporate taxes, tariffs are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. So, we end up paying tariffs also.

3. Fines. Fines by regulatory agencies such as the IRS, EPA, FAA, FCC, and ATF can be levied against individuals or companies, and we've already discussed who pays corporate expenses. So, we end up paying fines also.

4. Limited public property sales/rental. I include this only to address the minuscule amount that is brought in by the sale of public property such as specific frequencies for transmission (bandwidth) and federal land to private entities as well as the leasing/renting of bandwidth, public land (including parks, grazing land, drilling land, mining land, blah blah blah land, you get the point), and the Lincoln bedroom - oh wait a minute, that was for campaign bad. I don't believe that this is a significant source of income for the U.S. government, but in the end, we end up paying for this as well.

5. Borrowing. As everyone knows, borrowing is not income, but can be misconstrued or portrayed as income. But all the T-bills will eventually come due, and the people who bought them will expect their money....with interest. So, we end up paying for borrowing also.

Now, here's the rub, once the government takes our money, who ever is in power considers the money as "the government's" and not the individuals from whom it took it. And so accountability dies; that is, unless the American people start making a stink about it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Free vs. Free to Me

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" - Unknown

The single most aggravating aspect of this entire U.S. Healthcare debate is the portrayal of the resulting system as "free" healthcare.

It would serve Americans well to remember that, what appears to be, "free to me" is not the same as "free." Somebody has to pay.

If the doctor doesn't charge anything for the care, then the doctor himself is paying for his part.

If the hospital doesn't charge anyone for the supplies, the utilites to run the joint, and the personnel involved, then the hospital (read its owners/shareholders) pays for the treatment.

If the government pays the doctor, hospital, medical personnel, ambulance, blah blah blah, then the care still isn't free; the American tax payers (and consumers) foot the bill. In short, you and I pay for it.

It's not free.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fair Warning

I'm working on a series of posts that will automatically post while I'm on vacation. The main topic that I'll be addressing is the health care debate here in the United States.

Now, I'm no economist, scholar, intellectual, or Wall Street guru; I do, however, have a bit of common sense, a logical mind, and a witty.....erm, verbose....uh, thing-a-majig...aura stuff... aw, never mind. Anyways, I can (and do, sometimes) think, and I apply some of those thinkings (as opposed to musings) to the current debate.

One of the reasons I'm doing this is because I'm frustrated with the spin that I see in both the media and the government. I will attempt to boil down each of the parts of this mess to what is actually going on or we can expect to go on. Remember, the best indicator of what will happen is what has happened in the past. People will never stop acting like, well, people; we are all selfish by nature.

I will label all of these posts with the Economics label, so you can search or skip depending on your interest. I'm looking to the comments/arguments/discussion that these posts may spawn; the current administration doesn't seem too interested in debate, but rather,to paraphrase the president, "The time for debate is over".

So, hopefully, I'll get this series written, and we can have a good and proper meeting of the minds. Or not.

The Debate is Over

I have the world's best puppy. Hands down. No argument. It is finalized and settled.

Denali is the bestest man's best friend...ever.

Why now, you ask? Let me recount the past two mornings for you.

When I get up for work at 4 am, I shower, get ready and go down stairs for breakfast. Of course Denali has woken up and is clawing at her crate in her excitement at seeing me. I let her out for a little bit to eat and to play while I have breakfast. I also make time in there to take her out for the elimination phase of eating and drinking.

Now, usually, I do a little Bible study while I eat and then do my JC dailies in WoW. By the time I'm done with the second daily, it's 15 minutes after 5 am and time to start the morning end game, which includes sticking Denali in her kennel, going upstairs to brush my teeth and pray with my wife.

Well, the last two mornings, I did the Bible study, but then took Denali for a walk instead of turning on the computer. After the walk, I thought to myself, I should just throw her in the kennel so I don't have to chase her, but instead, I let her off the leash and finished up getting my stuff together downstairs.

When the time came for my 5:15 routine, Denali decided that that was the perfect time to play the "You chase me; I'll chase you" game, AKA "Can't touch this." I figured I'd let her chill out while I brushed my teeth and prayed with my wife and that I'd just have to catch her after that.

So, I come downstairs, ready to leave and what do I see to my surprise?

Denali is in her kennel!!

She got in there all by herself and was just waiting for me. You can bet your last dollar that I made a BIG deal out of it by praising her and petting her before I shut the crate door.

This morning, I did the same thing with the walk, and she did the same thing with the "Hard to get" game. So I did the same thing with the 5:15 routine, and when I came back downstairs....she was in her kennel! Two times in a row!

I'm kind of disappointed that I'm headed out for vacation tomorrow due to the fact that I'd like to see if this is going to become her normal thing. If it is, I would be ecstatic!

Not only does she have looks.....she has brains as well!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Interest waning...again

The first thing to go is using cool downs.

I missed my Titansteel and Titanium transmute cool downs yesterday.

The next thing to go is dropping dailies.

I haven't done my JC dailies yet today and might not make them either.

After that, I find other things more interesting than logging in. Of course, maybe it's because my mom is here or we're making the last push before leaving on our Hawaiian vacation on Wednesday, but I'm wondering if I'm just starting the "off" phase of WoW again.

Yeah, been here, done that. The pixels just aren't as shiny as they were before, and this time, I'm not looking for another game to take its place.

Last Friday, I had a little time to raid, so I joined up on a VoA raid with my guild. We spent the next two HOURS in there. Two....hours. Sure, we took on the new boss, which required three or so wipes before we figured it out, but a good deal of the time was spent waiting for AFKers.
Yeah, I thought about looking for a new guild and may do just that.

But, in that time, I missed out on going for a walk with my wife and my dog because I had committed my time to the raid, and I won't bail unless I have a bona fide emergency. I should have bailed....

Anyways, I guess I was reminded of why I just can't raid on a regular basis.

But recently, I've also had to group up in order to run 5 man Heroics, which requires that I commit time again to seeing it through. Now, this hasn't resulted in any conflicts yet, I can certainly see that coming down the pipe, and I do not want!

Once again, the end game isn't all it's cracked up to be. We'll see what happens on vacation when my wife is sleeping and I'm up and about, but I'm thinking that some good books, the Good Book, and some early morning walks might just supplant rep grinds, dailies, and cool downs.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Just because I'm watching what I'm eating doesn't mean it's all tofu and carrots for me. Much to the contrary, my culinary repertoire has broadened a bit to include some pretty tasty dishes.

Tuesday: I had picked up two portabella mushroom caps without having anything specific in mind for them. As it turns out, I was able to cobble together a great meal for myself (and lunch the next day - my wife doesn't do mushrooms. Yay!).

First, I prepared a Caesar salad. Romaine lettuce, shredded Parmesan cheese, a little chopped garlic, croutons, and Caesar dressing.

I brushed the caps with olive oil; then I made a mixture of Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella cheese, a little chopped garlic, and some olive oil and stuffed the mixture into the mushroom caps. Ok, well, put caps on their tops, upside down, and put the mixture on top of them. Better? It wasn't really stuffing, but whatever.

I heated up the grill and grilled those suckers! It took about 10 minutes for them to be done - Tip: I used indirect heat for most of the cooking and only turned on the burners beneath the caps for the last two minutes or so.

The only thing left was to make a bed out of the salad and top it with the stuffed mushroom cap. Mmmm....mmmmm...GOOD!

Thursday: Emboldened by my culinary success on Tuesday, I decided to use up some feta cheese and Greek olives that I had laying around. So, I cut up some Romaine lettuce, about 1/4 of an onion in rings, drained the Greek olives, cubed the feta cheese, and threw in a couple of banana peppers.

I found a good Greek salad dressing recipe that didn't have any vinegar in it (my wife doesn't like it) and made a double batch. I used about half on the salad (yeah, I could have just made up a single batch, but I like to go overboard).

Then, I seasoned some chicken breasts with some Greek seasoning and grilled them. When they were done, I cut up the breasts and threw them in the salad. Yum, yum, yum!

Tonight: I'm stopping by the store to pick up some Bleu cheese crumbles and dressing, some flank steak, pecans, Roma tomatoes, and crusty bread. My plan is to rub the steak with Montreal Pepper steak seasoning, grill it, and throw it on a salad with Romaine lettuce, the Bleu cheese stuff, cubed tomatoes, and caramelized pecans....sluuuuurrrrrrrp...erm...excuse me, that was just a little drool....

Fail tank, part II

So, last night after the Uldaur18 run where Daxie participated in killing Flame L and XT, I jumped on Vanco to tank a Heroic Violet Hold with some very well geared guildies.

I LFG'd in Gchat and rounded up the requisite Healer and DPSx3, and off we went!

Pull after pull after pull, the mobs just melted before me. I held aggro pretty well against the raider's DPS, and nobody died! The feral druid did pull aggro a couple of times, but I taunted right back. /pats self on back.

The bosses were just as easy; we got the Void guy and the Water guy. Both of them, as well as the dragon lady, went down very fast. The whole run went ridiculously fast!

I scored a pair of pants and some gloves for my DPS set. And got the achieve The Violet Hold.

Wait, what?


Yeah, the fail tank forgot to set the instance to Heroic.....I kinda felt like I had just killed an ant with a double barreled 12 gauge shotgun....and was proud of my accomplishment.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fail tank

Ok, so I'm above the defense cap and rockin' 24K+ health plus 32% avoidance; I figure, let's go tank some instances!

Now, I was thinking some level 78-80 instances like Halls of Stone or Halls of Lightning or Utgarde Pinnacle. Well, I got Tournament of Champions. Erm, least it's not Heroic.

To say I struggled would be an understatement. The other DK ended up tanking half the time, we wiped a couple of times, and I had a real hard time holding aggro on anybody.

In short, it was the typical PuG. I'm really hoping to run with my guildies for the next couple of instances - at least they'll be a bit more understanding about my learning curve. Well, at least I hope they are.

BUT, I did receive phat lewtz: Somthing something LEGPLATES something. I can't link it here at work, but they drop off the first boss(es). They're purdy....

Now I'm starting to play the gem dance. If I slap a +x def gem here, I can free up this slot for a +x stam gem or avoidance gem. But the def gem puts me way over the cap, which isn't a bad thing, but might not be the most optimal. And should I put a split gem in there to ....ah shoot, I don't know!

I have the stam and def dragoneye cuts so far, but since I'm over the def cap, I probably should have picked up the dodge cut. Oh well, I guess I just have to do two more dailies to pick it up.

I am thinking about socketing two dragoneyes (stam and def) in my Monarch Crab to make it a kick butt trinket and to provide more flexibility in the rest of my gear. I'd just have to really like it as I'll probably hold onto it for a long time.

And lastly, I hate Alchemist Finklestein. I'm glad that I'm only going to have to be his little Argent Crusade errand boy for one more day; once I get the head glyph, I'll just wear the tabard for the rest of the rep grind. Stupid Trollbane....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And then there were three...

Yes, three level 80 toons.

Vanco got the last ding until the next Xpac doing his Sons of Hodir dailies and immediately went back to Dalaran to try on all his new tank gear.

I'm sitting at:
551 Def
24.5K health
17% dodge
14% parry

Not bad, if I do say so myself. I still have to do two more days of Argent Crusade dailies to get the head enchant and a couple of more days on Sons of Hodir for the shoulder enchant and some dungeon grinding for Wyrmrest rep for their cloak.

I forgot to check, but I do believe that I can replace my "of the Champion" sword with a titansteel destroyer and still be above the defense cap. That will be a nice boost to both my strength and stamina.

So, other than gear, I'm looking to do a couple of things:

1. I need to find out what food I should be eating. Of course, if someone throws down a feast, I'll be partaking, but other than that, what food do tanks eat? Hit? Crit? I'm already def capped, so I shouldn't need to eat def food. Must...find....out....

2. Tanking practice. We'll just have to see if I jump right into Heroics or I try out some level 80 instances. I know I need to do UP on regular for the quest reward - a nice tanking chest piece. Also, a nice trinket drops out of reg HoS. And someone suggested that reg ToC has some good stuff for me.

3. Epic Flying. I've already hit Exalted with Valiance Expedition, so now I just have to scrap together the 4K gold. I also might try to get in on a HCoS timed run for the Bronze Drake.

4. Grind that rep. Sons of Hodir, Wyrmrest, Knights of the Ebon Blade, Kirin Tor (they have nice gloves for me!), blah blah blah. Oh, and the JC daily too.

5. Figure out who's next. I have three hunters, one priest, and a pally that are all begging for my attention; the problem is that I'm planning on adding a Worgen when the Xpac comes out, and I only have one slot left. One solution is to make one of my hunters into my banker and delete my level one pally banker. Or just fill up that last spot and then deal with it down the road if I need another spot and hope that Blizzard gives us some more slots.

Yep, still plenty to do, and I'm not bored yet.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thoughts on Tank gear

Vanco is approaching the level cap (4 bubbles of rest XP to go), and I'm looking at tank gear for him.

Now, I've already crafted all the Blacksmithing stuff for him, sans the Titansteel Destroyer (I have to see if I have enough Defense without my current tank sword). I've also started the rep grinds while leveling him, so he has a jumpstart on those.

And I've also crafted the epic tanking jewelry as well as the tanking JC trinket. I bought a tanking cloak and enchanted it with 16 def.

Anyways, I'm really curious about how close I will be to the 540 def cap. See, all this gear has "defense rating" on it...not defense, and from what I've read:

Roughly 5 defense rating = 1 defense.

So, what do I need?

400 base defense - This is what every toon's maximum defense is.
140 additional defense, which translates to approximately 689 defense rating.
Or 115 additional defense if I'm two-handed tanking (due to the +25 def Runeforging available for two-handed weapons), which translates to approximately 566 defense rating.

Oh, and there's this scaling issue, because I actually was rockin' 543 defense at level 78 with my crafted blue gear.

Let's switch gears to weapons. Anything that has defense on it is considered a tanking weapon, and it appears that there's very little in the way of two-handed weapons with defense. Thankfully, I do have Runeforging and can throw a +25 defense (not rating, actual, honest to goodness defense) on any two hander. Also, luckily, I have a level 77 weapon that is "of the Champion" that has 53 defense rating on it that I may use if I need the defense.

Now I understand why Teurion was always complaining about weapons. Besides his vow to never use maces 'cause they're gay (who's wearing a dress??? yeah, he is....), Teurion was always looking for a good tanking weapon.

Our situations are slightly different, but you can bet your boots that I'll be going for the Red Sword of Courage for when I can switch to dual wield tanking. Yes, can dual wield them!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Melting Continues

190.8 lbs.

I'm gonna be just a wisp of a guy by the time I leave for Hawaii on the 16th.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Last night, my oldest son dropped by to pick up some stuff, and we had a really good conversation. First of all, he's starting to show some maturity as a result from getting kicked out - he realizes that he has to get a steady job. Not only that, but he also has taken steps to actually GET a steady job.

Wonders never cease....

Anyways, I told him that I was proud of him for growing up and taking responsibility for his life. I also took the opportunity to reinforce the fact that now that he's out of the house, there's no turning back, and it would only help him to put any thought of moving back behind him. I also told him that he probably wouldn't have grown if he was still living at home.

What surprised me is his agreement. He seems to realize that what we had been trying to tell him for months was actually true. Yeah, he's hard headed like his Dad.

Anyways, I just figured I'd let you guys know how he's doing and that I am really proud of the direction he's taking. I only hope he continues on this track and figures it out soon.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Well, my wife went to the neurologist yesterday and found out she has a screw loose. Literally. Ok, not literally, but there's this little, uh, thing (that's a medical term, ya know. I DO WORK IN THE MEDICAL FIELD!! I KNOW STUFF!!!) in the inner ear that can break off and cause havoc like my wife's condition.

The remedy is to strap her to a table and rotate her around until the particle is in a safe, non-dizzy spell inducing place. I'm not sure if it's going to get up to centrifuge speed - around 7200 rpms, but I'm a bit jealous. I mean, I went all the way to Cedar Point last Saturday to get what she's going to have right here in Indy!

At least Cedar Point is less expensive...and, hopefully, after tomorrow's procedure, she'll be back to her normal, beautiful, sexy self. Of course, right now, she's pretty darn attractive as her dizzy, beautiful, sexy self, so there won't be that much change.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Puppy Power!!

It's been a while since I made a puppy post; sorry, I don't have any pictures to go along with it.

Last night, we continued working with Larry in training Denali on the Heel command. Unfortunately, Denali won't Heel without being directed to my ankle, but we are persevering.

We took her for a walk with her in the Heel position. She did NOT like that. She is used to being able to roam where ever she feels like (within certain boundaries) to the length of the leash. Well, we gave her just enough leash for her front legs to meet the ground with about two inches of slack or so.

We then walked. If she stopped to sniff something, we continued on, and she got dragged. If she tried to run ahead, we would give her slack and then snap the leash and pull her back to the Heel position. She pretty much fought with us the whole way, so I figured she'd be a bit tired when we got back to Larry's house, which would be a good thing for what we were doing next.

After the walk, we tested Denali on how long she would stay in a Down/Stay position with me out of sight. Our goal was 5 minutes. She made it 2 at the most.

Previously, we did pass a test where we put her in a Down/Stay position, but we remained in sight and were able to remind her to "stay."

So, we have our work cut out for us this week to get her to stay when we are out of sight.

In other puppy news, I put up the warning flags for the invisible fence and started the training, which, on the first two days, consists of letting Denali get to the flag line and jerking back on the leash.

Days 3 and 4 are a lot like the previous ones, but the shock collar is attached, and Denali is allowed to feel the shock. Ouch! Do not want!!

Days 5-8 still involve the leash and shock collar, but also involve distractions that tempt her to break through the fence. Things like balls rolled or thrown out of the yard, family members outside of the fence, or other dogs outside of the fence. This will be Denali's hardest stage as she's just a puppy and has some issues with self control (don't we all!!).

Hopefully she'll be fully trained to the fence in two weeks so my mom and T will have an easier time with her while my wife and I are off to Hawaii.

BTW, my wife did go to work today, so she's feeling a bit better, and I'm optimistic about our upcoming trip. Yay!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to Work

My wife isn't that much better, but I had to get back to work. An unscheduled week off wasn't exactly what I was hoping for at this juncture.

Let me say this: I would much rather have my wife healthy than being able to sit around and play WoW for most of the day.

I feel pretty helpless. Sure, I can try to make her more comfortable; I can make meals, get her whatever, try to keep things from interrupting her sleep. But, I can't do anything about her dizziness and suffering. And that sucks.

Ok, enough of the pity party.

I did play WoW, and I got Vanco the DK up to 77. I dropped Herbalism on him and picked up Jewelcrafting. I'd forgotten what a pain it is to level that profession, but I am persevering.

Yesterday afternoon, I tanked Halls of Stone, and I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself. We had one wipe - totally my fault for fighting in an unsafe spot and drawing adds....and more adds.... and then one death on the last boss. There wasn't any good loot that dropped for me, but I was just happy that I did so well.

I also did the ground work for my invisible fence. No, really, the literal ground work as in burying the wire. That sucked too. I got my youngest son involved in the project, and we finally finished it up last night. So, tonight, I get to run around with the collar and place warning flags for little Denali. Then, the training process starts. Hopefully, she'll pick up quickly on the warning flags and won't have to be shocked too much by the system.

Our Hawaiian vacation is a little over two weeks away, and now, we're not sure if we're going to be able to take it due to my wife's illness. I really hope she gets better soon....