On Friday 31 January 2003 I had a face-to-face encounter with my deamon.  I had a horrible situation at work and, looking back, I think I had some sort of breakdown.  I didn't seek outside help - that would have meant naming things I couldn't name for myself, let alone in front of anyone else.  I did feel very exposed at work, naked almost.

But I came through it.  Instead of the fragile, brittle caddis-fly lava shell that I had been wearing, I pulled on a personal armour that more closely resembles an Amorphous Gel from Macalania Forest.  I am stronger, more resilient.  I am the me I am today because of that experience.  And because I made friends with my deamon.  With Sophie.

Sophie's origins go back to my early childhood.  My father killed himself via autoerotic asphyxiation just before my second birthday and I have no memory of him.  My mother kept going - God only knows how! - and raised me on her own.  But she never talked about him and whenever I asked about him gave me the kind of answers that made it clear she didn't want to talk about him.  In some ways, my emotional intelligence is seriously lacking, but in others it is tuned in to the point of being painful.  I pick up other people's moods very easily; I just don't know what to do with them or what I can do to change them.

So, I learned not to ask about my father.  And I learned not to show my anger, or any other emotions.  I'm sure that wasn't what my mother wanted me to do, to bottle everything up, but that was the effect.  And the more I bottled up my anger and other 'negative' emotions, the more scared I became of what would happen if I ever let them show.  And so Sophie was born.

I wasn't just afraid of her.  I was terrified.  Of her - of what she would make me do if she ever got loose.  So, I kept her chained up in the dark, alone, cut off, the part of me I denied even existed.  Even to myself.  Especially to myself.

But on that Friday, she didn't just rattle her chains, she began to tear them apart.  And if I had not begun the process of making peace with her, I have no idea what I might have become.  Not that I think I could have been violent or 'bad' - but I would have been miserable and made those around me miserable.  But that's what 'might have been'.  The important thing is to know that I faced my deamon, bathed her, brought her into the light.

During that transition, Linkin Park's 'Crawling' became very important to me.  It exactly described the way I had felt about Sophie for all those years.  Even now, I get a feeling almost of comfort from listening to it and singing along, even though it's hardly a comfortable song!  But the lyrics still resonate.  And they remind me of how far I've come.

And it seems that Chester Bennington wasn't able to shake off his own deamon.  Who knows why he took his own life?  That's between him and God.  But I am fucking grateful for him, his life, and his gift to me and Sophie.
 So, I've done some levelling up and killed the Urutan Eater and I think I'm finally ready to tackle King Raithwall's Tomb.  My gamer colleague has a hard back edition of the original official guide that he's brought into work, so I think I'll have a quick glance at that, just to check the recommended level.  It's a really beautiful book, and so detailed!  Apparently, there are 21 sidequests, all of which I have engaged with at some level in the past but some of which I've never finished (the fishing, for example).  But now, of course, there are trophies...  Perhaps I can learn to fish for the sake of a trophy?  It will definitely be a test of how much I care about trophies!

Otherwise, not much to talk about...

Progress

Jul. 17th, 2017 07:26 am
 I'm about 10 hours into FFXII:ZA and I'm in the middle of the Sandsea.  I've had one 'Game Over' on the Leviathan but otherwise I'm doing OK.  I did run out of potions in the Ogir-Yensa, though.  Now I know why they have so many merchants wandering around the desert!  My characters are mostly at Level 11 (Balthier, for some reason, is only 9 and Basch has charged his way to 12) but the Urutan-Yensa are all Level 12, so I'm feeling the need to do some level grinding.  I have a habit of playing either the 'girls team' or the 'boys team'.  When I ran out of potions I switched from the boys to the girls because they were at a better level - and both Penelo and Fran know Cure.  Now I've stocked up on potions, I'll go back to the boys and take them back through the Ogir-Yensa, and possibly the Westersand, too, then come back with the girls.  The idea is to get everyone to about Level 15 before we tackle Raithwall's Tomb.

I have all of my characters busily acquiring Licenses from their respective boards (Vaan: Shikari, Penelo: White Mage, Fran: Archer, Balthier: Machinist, Ashe: Foebreaker, Basch: Knight) but, at the moment, I can't give them a second board.  Don't know if I need to max out the ones I'm using, or just the Gambit and Quickening slots?  Or, if there's a particular point in the game where you get the option to choose another board? (Just looked this up - there is a 'Second Board License' you have to learn).  Also, there appear to be four Quickening slots per character but the bit of blurb still only talks about three. (You can only learn three but some of them are blocking other licenses - so be careful which of the four slots you choose!)

A good thing about the new game - both of the map urns for the Yensa were right at the start of the Sandsea - I guess some players missed them because you did have to hunt them out.

A bad thing - the Sky Pirate's Den has been replaced by ordinary trophies.  I am SERIOUSLY upset by this!

My other news is that the next actor to play Doctor Who is a woman, Jodie Wittacker.  I have concerns about this (relating to the character as a PACIFIST male role model, and not any nonsense about being able to fly the TARDIS) but I will definitely give her a chance.

OK, enough geekery - time to start my Monday!
 So, I've been watching a YouTuber known as PixiePoison90 do a Let's Play of a game I had on the PS2 called 'Pirates: the Legend of Black Kat', which I bought mainly because of the female protagonist.  It's a Western RPG, so battle is real time and you have a growing list of objectives to fulfil.  Also, the story is minimal.  Whilst I enjoyed elements of the game (the minimal story is still interesting and the graphics look pretty good even now), there were things I didn't like/were too far out of my comfort zone, the real time battles being the most obvious example.  I found some cheat codes on line and used them to upgrade to the best ship and to make myself and my ship invulnerable.  I did not indulge in the ones that dressed Kat in a bikini...  Anyway, for all these reasons, I only played the game once but it was nice to watch someone else playing it (much better than I did 10+ years ago!) and to feel a bit of nostalgia.

Then I discovered that Pixie also had a Let's Play for 'Primal' (not to be confused with 'Far Cry: Primal' or 'Primal Fear'!).  Again, a Western RPG, played before I understood the distinction or how to tackle real time battles.  This one I know I played more than once but it developed a glitch in one of the boss battles and I couldn't get past it.  I did also have a cheat code for invulnerability that I used in the final boss battle.  The story is pretty linear and the only sidequest I can remember is collecting Tarot cards but it has a lot of charm.  The relationship between the MC, Jen, and her sidekick, Scree the Gargoyle, the fact that it's a 'real' companion game where each character has their part to play, AND the fact that the MC is female.  So, imagine my delight when I found out it is available to buy on the PlayStation Store for the PS4!  If only I'd known that when I came to the end of Witcher 3.  Anyway, the plan is to buy it on pay day whilst it's still available (because I missed 'Legend of Dragoon' - ;( ) and play it when I finish FFXII:ZA.

Speaking of FFXII:ZA, I am about four hours in and rotting in Nalbina Dungeon.  So far, I've given Vaan Shikari, Penelo White Mage, Balthier Machinist, and Fran Archer.  I'm undecided about whether Ashe or Basch should get Knight, but I think it'll probably be the latter because I'll get the opportunity sooner.  I made Penelo a White Mage because she'd already learned Cure - but, of course, I hadn't bought it, so she couldn't use it. Duh!  I am just in awe of how beautiful - how even MORE beautiful - it is.  The texture on Old Dalan's rugs is ridiculous - they're the background for a (fairly) minor character but they look amazing.  It all feels a bit easier than I remember but maybe I'm just a better gamer, now!

Well, that's enough gamer-talk.  Time to check emails and then get this day underway.
 So, it's Graduation Week for the University, my favourite week of the year - work-wise at least.  Everyone is doing their best, and everyone is smiley and happy.  Lots of girls in too-short skirts and too-high heels; lots of boys in three-piece suits. And mums in fascinators and dads in ties they don't usually wear.  It's great fun.

My line-manager is on leave this week but he's told me to get in touch if I need anything as he's at home decorating.  He's still the best line-manager I've ever had.  Of course, at some point, he's going to do something that doesn't suit me but, for now, everything's good.

I've been through Death of an Ice Cream Seller and added some bits to beef up what is now the main secondary plot - the security around the exchange of the jewel.  McNeal is going to be getting in Langley's face A LOT and that is really going to wind her up.  Today, I've begun writing the history of the trading post because I need to understand the political boundaries - what are the Chancellor's areas of responsibility? what are Langley's?  Why has a human been appointed?

And I'm pretty much done with Witcher 3, at least for now.  I've spent the last few days doing some random sidequests (including finding a missing hairdresser - LOL) and exploring question marks on the maps.  It doesn't really feel like I've finished - but tomorrow is all about FFXII:ZA.  I am going to download it as soon as I get up in the morning, after my experiences with FFXV.  It probably won't take nearly as long to install but I'm out on Wednesday night, and I don't want to have to wait until Thursday to play.  Yes, I'm VERY excited.  Leave me alone.

We had a nice quiet weekend as the grandson was at some family do on his dad's side.  I did want to try to get to Despicable Me 3 next weekend but my mum and stepdad are coming down.  So, the weekend after...

OK, that's all for now.

Busy, busy!

Jul. 6th, 2017 07:14 am
 This week is just flying over.  But being busy is ALWAYS good.  Next week is graduation week, so that'll be tiring, too, but in a happy way.  I love graduation so much.  It's one thing the University does really well.  People who have experienced it at other universities go on and on about how ours is the best.

The son is in hot water again, at work.  He's just never learned to pick his battles.  He always goes up against the equivalent of a granite mountain and there's only ever going to be one winner in THAT contest!  One day, hopefully, he'll learn...

The grandson enjoyed his 'taster' day at his new school and has already made some friends.  Although if the daughter's experience is anything to go by, he'll have nothing to do with them when he actually starts!  But at least there will be some familiar faces around the place, which is the point of the exercise.

The daughter has a temporary crown on her broken tooth - she goes back to the dentist tomorrow to get it sorted properly.

And that's me!
 I'm wandering around Toussaint doing bits and pieces - just killing time until NEXT TUESDAY!!!  I did the Fists of Fury in Beauclaire quest and won - eventually.  One fight wasn't really a fight - I had to block my opponent.  Luckily, he telegraphed when he was going to hit so I had plenty of time to block.  One fight took three or four goes to win (even though I am REALLY over-levelled) and the outcome was... interesting.  The final fight (for the title) I had to do drunk - well, Geralt was drunk - but it wasn't that hard.

I've completed 7/15 sections of the 'Knight for Hire' quest.  I'm leaving the Hanses for the time being and doing the smaller bits - although they are pretty challenging.  If I wasn't SO over-levelled, I wouldn't stand a chance.  Also, I am on EASY mode!  In one fight I had about 5 bandits jump on me at once and my health bar was going down at an alarming rate - I tried to gulp some Swallow but Geralt wouldn't respond.  Somehow I got through the fight - plus one with a lone bandit who just wouldn't leave me alone - even though it looked as though I had no health at all.  Don't know if that - plus the not drinking potions - was a glitch with the game or a problem with my controller.  It's only just over a year old - it shouldn't be worn out yet, surely?  Anyway, I got through it.  The good thing about this quest is that I can pop back to my friendly blacksmith and repair my gear, then nip home for a nap to replenish my potions and health.  And because I have the Royal bed, I get one extra of every potion and bomb.

Our new office is beautiful.  It's clean, there's light, lots of natural light (and even the artificial light isn't harsh), we're all sitting together so team conversations are easier - I am happy!  My chair somehow didn't make it.  There were some instructions about chairs but I thought you only put a sticker on if you had a 'special' one - otherwise, they would move all the chairs and just distribute them, so everyone would get A chair, just not necessarily the one they started with.  Apparently you were supposed to put a sticker on your chair.  So, I have a really random, grotty thing, with a yellow sticker, which I thought meant it wouldn't be moved at all!  It seems they've left some of the good chairs because they didn't have a specific 'location' sticker, but did bring grotty ones!  Anyway, I've been told I can order a new one when things settle down, so I shall do that.

I managed to mix my phone number up with someone else's, so he now has MY voicemail message on his 'phone.  He is also on leave for two weeks, so there are going to be some VERY confused people leaving voice messages!  I'm sure he'll be able to sort it all out when he gets back.

My line manager and I went for a little wander and had a play with the rather funky ice cube trays in the freezer.  I need to check on them, today.  The kitchen isn't as big as I expected, but it'll do.  There was a suggestion - which I thought was an instruction - that hot food should be eaten in the kitchen not at desks.  I had beef stew, yesterday, which I wouldn't have been comfortable carrying through the office, anyway.  My desk is a LONG way from the kitchen!  So, I think I will eat hot food in there.  It's a chance to be sociable, anyway!

That's all for now, DW!
 So, my daughter has always been accident prone.  The slightest unevenness in a pavement and she was always the one to trip over it.  She has a scar on her forehead from where she collided with a concrete step whilst running around the school playground on a wet day.  On Friday, she fell face-first into the pavement and chipped off half a tooth, and has a fat lip.  I'm guessing it happened too quickly for her to put out her hands (although apparently she did have time to think 'Oh, fuck!').  She has escaped unscathed, otherwise, though.  A small scrape on her knee but no other damage to her face.

The emergency dental service wouldn't see her because they consider the damage cosmetic, so she's going to have to try to see her local dentist ASAP.  The walk-in centre in town told her there's no infection in her lip, she just has to wait for it to go down.  I suspect the dentist won't be able to do much with her lip the way it is but at least they'll be able to get a plan together for how to deal with the tooth.  And her work have been really nice about it and are letting her book a week's holiday at short notice while the lip goes down.

So, she's a bit frustrated - mostly with herself for falling over whilst sober - but she'll live.

Yesterday was supposed to be all about the grandson going out and spending his birthday money with his mother - who he rarely gets to spend 1-on-1 time with on a Saturday.  Instead, he and I went shopping whilst the daughter sat in the walk-in!  If I'd realised how quick she was going to be, I would have waited for her.  But going through town with the two of them is like the old days when I had two children, both too old to hold my hands and both making their own sweet way through the crowds!

Anyway, the grandson got quite a good haul - full Liverpool kit for 2017/18 (shirt from our son - with name, number and badges - shorts and socks from his own money), Nike t-shirt and shorts, a very small 'man bag' type thing and a bike pump!  And he has more money to come and my parents will no doubt take him into town, too, when they're back from their cruise.

Today, I'm giving a talk in church on my favourite Bible passage.  That'll be fun!
 So, I've sung my new(ish) line manager's praises a few times and I'm going to do it again.  It is just SO nice to have someone I feel understands what I'm trying to say AND who has lots of constructive things to say in response.  I also think he's getting as much of a kick out of mentoring me as I am getting out of being mentored by him.  I also think it's come as a bit of a surprise to him, which would only make the kick more... kick-y.

I had my annual appraisal thing (personal development and performance review) with him yesterday, which went very well.  I have some ACTUAL short term and long term goals!  Things I can work towards!  Something that says, 'the way from here to there is via these steps'!!!  After YEARS of treading water, not helped by the lack of interest from my former line-manager (not to mention the three or four before him!), it finally feels like I have a direction.

And yes, I have changed line managers like other people change their socks.  My current line manger is my 11th in 16 years.  Most of them would happily have supported any personal development I wanted to undertake - but I had to identify what I wanted to develop and how.  Only a couple - the current one and one that I consider partly responsible for my current woes but who I loved at the time - have shown any interest in helping with the identification stage. 

I also have to own up to the fact that I'm not a person who takes well to being managed, which was where one line manager ran into trouble; she seemed to think I should respect her and do whatever she said simply BECAUSE she was my line manager.  Er... no...  I do respond well to a leader but, again, only a couple have come anywhere near that description (the same two).

But I am not going to dwell on the past.  We have a plan for moving forward and I am going to embrace it and run with it.
 So, somehow 11 years have gone by and I'm at a loss to explain it!  The grandson is away on a school trip, which gives him something different to do on his birthday.  We'll see him on Saturday but he won't be staying this weekend.

I was talking to someone I used to work with yesterday and mentioned that the grandson changes schools in September - and she said she remembered my son changing schools.  Yeah - I've been at LJMU too long!
Meeting with line manager went well yesterday.  He's asked me to take the UoL JD and benchmark myself against it, which I think is the step we missed out last year.  I think our boss' boss (and possibly my line manager at the time and our boss) got the impression I wanted a new post created just for me and was suggesting the JD as a blueprint, when all I wanted was to use it as a benchmark.  At least in the first instance.  Because if it does show that I am doing that job, it then does become a blueprint, doesn't it?

And if the benchmarking exercise reveals that, actually, I'm not working at that level, well I can draw a line under the whole thing.  On reflection, I could have done the exercise myself a year ago.  But this is why I have a line manager, to help me identify the next steps.

We got an email yesterday about the Aurora Scheme, which seeks to support women in training for leadership roles.  But you have to map out your planned career path as part of the application, showing how you want to reach a senior management position within 10 years.  Who knows their future career path in that detail?!  And what if something comes up that screws up the plan?  Still, it demonstrates ambition, I suppose.  But it also equates leadership with management and I don't think they're necessarily the same thing.  I do want to take a closer look at the information, though.  With a supportive line manager, I have a real opportunity to progress.
 It's been a good week - but all good things must come to an end.

I'm looking forward to getting back, though.  I enjoy my job and my colleagues.  A little nervous about my conversation with my line-manager - but only because I want to make sure I get my point across properly this time.  I do find him easier to talk to than my previous line-manager, though, and I believe he takes a greater interest in me.  I just don't want our boss to think I'm a trouble-maker who is going to rake up old stuff every 6 - 12 months, so I need to make sure my line-manager understands where I'm coming from so that there isn't any miscommunication between him and the boss.

Oh, what fun!

But I do have two suggestions for moving forward.  Firstly, the regrade.  I don't care what our boss' boss 'thinks' we need - this was the man that thought that I and 1 BA would be enough to support all the bigger, better projects that were coming our way.  Our boss' first act when he came into post was to change the BA post to a Senior BA - then he got working on the other posts.  We now have a team of 7 and our boss believes we need more!  And, anyway, this isn't about what role is needed on paper, this is about what's fair to me.  If I'm working above my grade, the University needs to recognise that, dammit.  And, if this process proves that I'm not, actually, working above my grade, then we draw a line under the whole thing once and for all.

Secondly, if the boss does want more roles, what are they?  What do they look like?  And how do I progress from where I am to a position where I can apply for one?  Because I don't want to be in the position I was in when the BA post was advertised and being told not to bother because I wouldn't be considered.

Hmmm...  Looks alright written out in my on-line journal.  Let's hope I can say it as sensibly!

I also need to start writing something down for my talk on Sunday.  Again, I know what I want to say - just need to get the balance between the 'whole Bible' stuff and my own passage.  Fingers crossed!
 Today is the last day of my 'holiday' - but I've had a good rest and I'm feeling recharged enough to return to the fray.  I've also completed a read-through of DOAICS and made a few notes of the story as it is.  Next step is to add to the notes so that the story becomes what I want it to be.

I've decided to track down all of the diagrams for the Cat Gear in W3.  It wasn't something that I bothered much with when I was playing the game but I need a task and giving Geralt a matching suit of armour and weapons sounds like just the thing.  I can also dye it pink, if I so desire *evil grin*  There are lots of other colours out there, too.  Can't remember seeing red, though...

My new copy of 'Once Upon a World' arrived yesterday.  I haven't read it in over 30 years but flicking through it yesterday really took me back.  It's a retelling of the Bible for children and I think it's one of the reasons I tend to view the Bible as a whole - the flow of the story between so many different characters but all making their contribution.  The selection of stories is very narrow but it's only a short book and it is for children.  I shall be making use of it in my talk on 2 July.

Today, I'm going into town with the daughter to choose a new telly for the grandson's birthday.  It's a bit extravagant, perhaps, but he will get the use out of it.  And he's our only grandchild - it's our duty to spoil him!

Bye for now, DW!
 So, today is my 'chill out' day for the week.  I have no definite plans, other than having a nice long bath - I'm just going to let the day come to me.

Yesterday, I visited the Garstang Museum, named for Professor John Garstang, the first Professor of Archaeology at University of Liverpool.  It's open every Wednesday afternoon, which I hadn't realised - I've been wanting to visit for a while.  They have a special 'Book of the Dead' exhibit at the moment.  Egyptology is, of course, one of my longest obsessions.  My first question, 'Do they have anything from Amarna?'.  The answer, 'Yes!'.  Looking at a fragment of painted plaster floor and wondering if Nefertiti ever walked on it gives me such a thrill.

They had a partially unwrapped mummy.  His name in life isn't known.  He was in his twenties when he died - very slender and shorter than me.  They made them small in those days.  His lack of a name is sad - the Ancient Egyptians believed that a person's immortality was linked to their surviving relatives speaking their names.  This gave rise to cults where people would visit their relatives' tombs to leave offerings and speak their name.  It also led to the obliteration of the names of those judged heretics - Akhenaten being the best example.

A friend also commented that such collections are actually crime scenes.  All of those objects were stolen from their country of origin (not all the objects are Egyptian), and I have a lot of sympathy with that view.  I also felt really sad looking at that poor, nameless mummy.  After all, that is a real dead body lying behind that glass.  Once a living, breathing, thinking, loving person - now a blackened, shrivelled corpse for the curious to gawk at.  And yes, I include myself in that.

On the other hand, how would I ever see things like that if someone hadn't collected them and brought them to Britain?

Also did a bit of shopping and then some monster slaying.  A good day all round.
 So, the boss fight that I was convinced couldn't possibly be the FINAL boss fight because I still had so many quests to get through (based on my hazy memory of the quest list I looked at on line) turned out to actually be the final boss fight.  As such, the challenge level was about right, on reflection.  I mean, one of my complaints about FF final bosses is that they tend to be push-overs compared to some of the optional bosses.  One thing I can say about the final boss in W3:B&W is that he is definitely NOT a push-over.  I finally defeated him on the fourth(?) attempt, the one where I'd just realised I could SAVE with all my preparations (repairing weapons and armour, applying the right kind of oil, setting up my bombs) just before entering the fray.

And then I got the 'good' ending (at least, as far as I can tell, not having explored all the possibilities - but it all ended happily, which counts as 'good' in my book), so that made me happy.  And THEN there was some bonus happiness based, I assume, on how I played the main game.  I am now spending time working my way through the sizable list of sidequests that I didn't get around to for one reason or another.

So, my thoughts on Witcher 3...

The main game on 'super easy' was pretty straightforward combat-wise, which is just as well because I really didn't get my head around all the buttons and what they do.  Especially when play switches to Ciri.  For most battles, mashing [], with the odd Quen or Ignii worked fine.  The game is seriously beautiful to look at in all the different environments, and the people are just amazing.  The story is very satisfying and all of the characters add to it.  Ciri and Yen, in particular, are VERY well done.  Geralt took a bit more time for me to warm to - but I did warm to him.

My one real grumble is my main issue with 'modern' games.  You HAVE to do sidequests in order to level up and I found they distracted me from the main story.  This was compounded by the fact that W3 sidequests are all mini stories in their own right - which makes them more interesting but also more distracting.  Still, since every RPG requires you to level up, I'm glad that they made the levelling interesting and not just a grind.

The first DLC, Hearts of Stone also had an interesting story but a strangely unsatisfying ending.  A VERY nasty Big Bad.  I did pick up one sidequest but didn't follow it up.  There are others, so if I still have time after doing the ones I have, I shall visit the notice boards.  The part of the story that involved the lecherous ghost was hilarious.  Definitely made the whole thing worth while.

The second DLC, Blood and Wine, was almost a game in its own right.  More beautiful scenery, more situations for me to fail at (the Tourney, oh, the Tourney!) - and some VERY challenging battles.  It was in playing this DLC that I really learned what all the buttons do!  Although I still don't parry...  *spoiler alert* There was an optional story branch that took me to a land of fairy tales that was part whimsy, part tragedy.  Oh, and had the cutest sidequest!  Yes, even the sidequests (well, optional story branches...) have sidequests in B&W! 

I've already described my final encounter and the ending (spoiler free, too!).  I started playing the main game in January and took a small break between the main game and HoS to replay FFXV.  On average, I think I've played 6-8 hours a week.  It's the kind of game where it's impossible to play just one hour - it's always at least one and a half, often two and a half!  These days, my gaming time is restricted to three or four session a week (weeks off work, of course, are different!).  With the quality of the graphics alone and the sheer amount of Stuff To Do, I think the main game plus two DLCs are well worth the money.  And I haven't even mentioned the script, which is often laugh out loud funny, considering it's a translation from Polish.  And all the little side conversations you hear from NPCs as you walk past (a skit on Life of Brian's 'old ex-leper' scene, quotes from Norwegian Wood and El Condor Pasa, all spring to mind).

If you have some spare time and spare cash, I would definitely recommend getting this game.
 So, as I've mentioned before, Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is HARD.  Even on the 'Story Only' (aka - stupidly easy) difficulty level, it is HARD.  Now, there is a reason I've picked the 'Story Only' level - it's because I'm interested in progressing the story, not because I want challenging combat.  if I wanted challenging combat, I would have picked a different difficulty level.  This game doesn't seem to understand this concept.  It took me 4 goes to kill the Big Bad Wolf (who was a boss), and I got killed by a couple of low level vampires in a 'normal' fight.  Boss battles should be tougher than normal ones, I grant you - but FOUR attempts?!

And now I'm up against the Big Bad, who changes form part way through the fight.  Oh, yes - the dreaded boss-that-changes-form type battle.  And this isn't the end of the game, so it's unlikely to be the last time I meet him.  I gave up when I died the first time.  That is not a battle to tackle when you're tired.

But all these tough fights are REALLY taking away the fun element from the game.  Added to which is the fact that I can't go back to my villa and apply my buffs at the moment.  And I'm reliant on my weapon and armour repair kits because I can't even visit a bloody blacksmith!  it's a good thing I stocked up on those.  I am really enjoying the game but I'm not having fun at the moment!

Today, I'm going to give my friend a ring and see if she's up for some company this afternoon.  And I'm meeting someone else for coffee this morning.  So, at some point, I will be taking on the Big Bad again - just need to remember my Vampire Oil!
 So, I woke up at the usual time, despite going to bed a little later than usual, but I have done some meditation and read through a chapter of DOAIS - so that has been a good use of my time.

I'm beginning to think about my talk for 2 July on 'my favourite Bible passage'.  One of the problems I have, and I'm going to say it, is that I get really annoyed by people taking verses out of context.  To my mind, the Bible has to be seen as a whole - you can't just take the bits you like or that 'prove' your pet theory. Of course, trying to read and understand the whole thing is more than a little daunting, which is why I hardly ever open the thing at all!  But my favourite passage is one of those that feels like a summary of the whole.  I want to try to get four people to read it - a line each.

I think I'll do a Lectio Divina with that passage sometime this week.  That would be another good use of time.

Today, my plans are to wash the bedding, cut the grass, pop into town, and play some more Blood & Wine.  I've looked at the main quest and it looks as though I'm about half way through - finishing it this week seems VERY possible.  I will definitely do some sidequesting.  Or maybe do some 'work' towards 100% on FFX-2...  It certainly isn't worth starting anything new, although my gaming colleague has offered to lend me KH3 - but the idea of fighting with Disney characters has never appealed to me...

Oh, but I do know what I want for Christmas - Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom.  I love NNK:WOTWW sooo much.  I had a conversation with J about waiting for the price to come down, and in general that's what I do.  DAI, for example, is ridiculously cheap, now, but I don't have the time, or enough inclination, to get it.  I am certainly taking that approach with Horizon: Zero Dawn - it looks like a great game but not enough to make me want it NOW.  I do want it - but not enough to pay £50 (although I did spot it for £30 the other day, so the process has started - but £30 still sounds like a LOT of money).  The new AC game is set in Ancient Egypt, which sets all sorts of reactions off for me - but I'm not even going to consider that at full price.

But there are some games - FFXV (even though it is slightly disappointing - but it was so long since I'd had a new FF game!), FFXII:ZA (*bounces around excitedly*), and NNK2:RK that I know will be worth the outlay, because I'll get my money's worth and then some!

OK, time for a bit of fb nonsense, then I need to get this day started.
 OK, first of all, I need to get some disgruntlement out of the way.

I found out on Thursday (only by hearsay, admittedly) that a colleague has been promoted.  As far as I'm aware, no post was advertised and no recruitment process was gone through.  I also have to say this isn't a post I could possibly have gone for because I don't have the skills or the experience.  Of course, I don't begrudge the colleague his promotion AND he's going to have to manage a new member of staff (because THAT post will be advertised) but it's just raked up a whole layer of frustration that had settled.

I love my job and I REALLY love being part of a team that is made up of a) posts that make sense and b) great people.  I'm in a happy place and I was enjoying working life.  But this just illustrates that if the powers that be WANT something to happen for someone, they will make it happen.  So, turning me down last year for even having a regrade CONSIDERED adds weight to what my husband says about them having me where they want me.

Well, I'm not going to settle this time.  Firstly, I have a line manager that I feel actually gives a shit.  Secondly, it doesn't matter if the powers that be think a Grade 7 post is NEEDED - what matters is that I believe I have a case for saying that I'm doing Grade 7 WORK; I'm not asking for the post to be regraded, I'm asking for recognition of the work I have done and am doing.  I did want to speak to my line manager yesterday but he wasn't in the office, so it'll have to wait until I'm back at work.  But at least I've got this out of my system!

In happier news, I've just bought a copy of a book I had as a child that I lent to someone and never saw again.  It's called 'Once Upon a World' and is a rewriting of the Bible for children.  I want to use it as part of my talk about my favourite Bible passage (Numbers 6: 24-26), which will include my thoughts on the Bible as a whole.

In less happy news, I spoke to an old friend yesterday and she was sounding old.  I mean, she is almost 81 but I only saw her a few months ago and she still seemed as bright and switched on as ever.  Yesterday, she was hesitating and losing her thread mid-sentence.  She said she struggles with numbers and writing, and can't handle money.  She uses her debit card, so can still shop.  And she's still managing to live independently.  It's just so sudden.  I will see if she's free one day next week, I think.

Also, the grandson hasn't been well the last couple of days, so I might be spending the day in Halewood baby-sitting.  I'm waiting for the daughter to ring and let me know how he is.

Right, I need to get some washing done before I go anywhere!  Bye for now, DW!
 This week has been the second longest of my life.  The longest ever was one I spent selling advertising space in a diary for the fire brigade.  I managed to sell ONE space, to a cucumber grower in the south of England who I think was Italian.  To this day, I'm not sure he knew what he'd bought :D

Anyway, this week has felt like it was about a month long.  I don't know why - it wasn't particularly busy OR quiet, I'm not ill, I'm not stressed about anything...  It's just taken a ridiculous amount of effort to get from Monday to Friday.  But it is Friday, and I'm on leave ALL of next week.  I am going to slam into Blood and Wine and ignore things like housework and writing.

The fire that happened in London the other day is consuming a lot of news time and a lot of my thoughts.  It seems that the total destruction of the building was preventable, but safety laws either aren't strong enough or have been misapplied.  There were hundreds of people in the building.  So far, 17 people have been identified as having died but that number can only rise.  The fire brigade say they hope the number won't reach three figures; it seems a vain hope at this point.
 I am REALLY enjoying Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, much more than the main game. I'm actually seeking out sidequests and getting quite excited about my home improvements. And the Big Bad looks like a VERY interesting character. Of course, the home improvements require cash, so I'm back to looting everything and everyone to get stuff to sell.

Even on 'story only' (ie VERY easy) and with Geralt at level 40+ the battles are challenging. I've improved my swords but I haven't found any armour I like better than the stuff I got about 3/4 of the way through the main game. But I am using my potions and signs, and dodging. So, yeah, it's all good.

All of the sidequests in Witcher 3 have an interesting little story behind them and one of the ones in B&W (The Hunger Game) is actually heart breaking. Geralt is a true defender of the weak and I'm enjoying making those choices for him.

And another (Great Balls of Granite) was just silly. But hey, who doesn't like a bit of silly?

Enjoyed this week's Doctor Who, 'The Empress of Mars'. The actress playing the Ice Warrior Queen did a great job, considering most of her face was covered. And Ben Kingsley's son did an excellent job of playing a cad :D Partly it was an exploration of the British attitude of 'we see it, we like it, we take it', which has led to so many of the problems we face today. And partly it was about how getting to know someone very different to you can lead to co-operation. And boy do we need some of that!

OK, that'll do for now. Bye, DW.

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