Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Traditions

Ok, I know months ago I said that Halloween was my favorite holiday. But... I do enjoy Christmas quite a bit.

All people ha- their holiday traditions. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah. Kwanza, Festivus, or nothing at all, there are things in this time of year that are standard staples in your life. It could be as simple as going out for Chinese food on Christmas Day, or staying put during the week of Christmas to avoid the crazy traffic of last-minute shoppers, or packing up the family and going to Florida for the week.

My side of the family is rich with holiday tradition. My grandfather made (MADE!) a snowman that moved his hand and tipped his top hat when you opened up their door. To my understanding, he attached the arm with the top hat to the door so when you opened it he was tipping his hat. My Dad's love of Christmas shone in the continuation of many traditions and many new ones that he created when he started his own family. One neat tradition he got from Alfred Burt was to create a Christmas Carol and include it on our Christmas card.

Now, having been married to Breaky for a year and a half, my traditions have evolved in to continuation of my family's traditions and new ones that were created after Breaky and I got married and got our own place.

Our traditional Christmas meal on Christmas Eve-Eve

Since I started in higher education, I have been blessed with getting a few days off around the holidays. Unfortunately, this usually does not include the day before Christmas Eve (and sometimes Christmas Eve even), so usually Breaky and I are still in Kalamazoo for the day before Christmas Eve-Eve. We have now turned this into "Our Christmas" where we exchange our own gifts, put on Christmas pajamas, enjoy and great dinner and then watch some kind of Christmas movie. This year we decided that the Christmas movie was going to be Die Hard, because it IS a Christmas movie (and if you think differently, you can leave). This year also, we have the addition of our wonderful DogCPK, who bundled up in her sweater from her Nanna and helped us enjoy the wonderful evening.

looky what BreakyCPK got me! :) 

Christmas Eve is spent at my parents' house in the city in which I grew up. Traditions for Christmas Eve include Mom frantically wrapping presents that she has put off doing, and filling stockings, making Norwegian Jule Kakke (Christmas bread) and watching Scrooge (1970 w/Albert Finney) and having either hors d'oeuvres or in the case of this year, pizza, for dinner. 

Lovely Jule Kakke

Breaky is officially a Norwegian by marriage :) 

A new tradition that is now just three years old, is that early Christmas morning, Mom and I go for a Christmas morning walk around the block (which is just about one mile). Once again, we added a new member, DogCPK, who LOVES walks, or as we have to say "w" because she knows what "walk" means.

Christmas morning walk selfie!!! 

Christmas morning has evolved from having a big fancy breakfast before opening up presents to having a piece of toast and a crap-ton of coffee before opening up presents, and having a big brunch after presents. Speaking of presents, the way our family has always opened our presents was in order, one at a time, from youngest to oldest. I believe this started when we were really little, the adults wanted to see what the kids got and I imagine there is some lesson in patience and giving that occurred as a result, but in reality it was probably to stem the chaos that is wrapping paper and boxes. I did not realize this was not something everyone did, until I would watch Christmas TV specials and, to my horror, kids would be unwrapping presents all willy-nilly. The HORROR. 

Thanks Mom! Junkrat primed and ready! MERRY CHRISTMAS. Who says Christmas can't include the Geeky side?

Anyway, presents are all unwrapped, so we enjoy a brunch which includes the Jule Kakke, scrambled eggs, toast bockwurst, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.

We then plug in White Christmas, and everyone takes a nap. You think I'm kidding. This was a tradition even way back when my Grandmother was still with us (bless her soul), who would take up the couch, and snore through "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing.:"Another new tradition is that there are a few football games on the other tvs. Thanks Breaky. Mom and I will start making the beef en croute for dinner. Now Breaky helps with dinner by making his Dad's mashed potatoes.

Then comes Muppet Christmas Carol (the VHS version because they cut a scene when they made it into a DVD)

My Dad was a teacher for 35 years before he retired a few years ago. He taught choir, and if anyone was in choir or band in high school, you know what a production it can be. We had a bunch of parents, helpers and former students who would come back and help every year. A tradition was to have that group come back to our house for snacks and drinks. When he retired, we made it a point to invite those friends and family to our house the day after Christmas for food, drink, and lots and lots of music and singing. 

What are some of your Christmas traditions? Which have evolved and which have been older traditions?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Subtle Geek Pride

Sometimes I struggle with the duality of the life I live.

I work in a very professional, educational setting in which, at the current job I work, I don't even get to wear jeans on Fridays. After work, I get home, throw on my Hufflepuff sweatpants and my favorite Princess Peach tee-shirt and throw on my gamer headphones and play the latest expansion of Hearthstone for a few hours after playing with my dog in the snow. It is hard during those moments to feel like a professional woman with a graduate degree.

What is harder is to keep that passion for video games and general geek-ness alive at work. Actually, just had to explain to an individual who works in HR what my husband does for a living, as it came up in casual conversation that my husband was in Boston for "work." Oh, so what does your husband do?"..... *sigh* "Well......"

Lately, in today's world, having subtle, yet stylish representations of video game and geek pride for women have been an increasing trend for places like ThinkGeek (full disclosure, liked them a lot more when they were not owned by Gamestop, but that's a whole other blog post that I now have written in my head), and Blizzard and other prominent producers of gamer swag. 

I asked my Facebook friends if they had anything they loved to wear that was subtle, but geekish that they wore to work. I got a few awesome answers:

My new friend Sarah sent me pictures of her Solar System Necklace from Thinkgeek

LBHackEmUp rocking a cute Navi necklace 

Super cute triforce earrings on my friend Elle

I have a few things, but definitely lacking in the subtle, yet classy representation of geek.

My favorite is probably the Hearthstone necklace I wear probably 2-3 times a week:

A few weeks after Blizzcon 2015

Featuring the one and only Breakycpk in 2016

I also put a Lego brick keychain on my name badge so I can put my badge with my keys: 

Gotta represent the BATMAN

Added the yellow top recently. I think it looks better :) 

These don't even include all the sports-geek side of my life, which I also kind of inherited from Breaky
What are some of your favorite subtle ways to show your geek pride at work? Do you have something at your desk? A scarf or two? Let's help each other and get more representation of geek culture in our professional lives!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Row the Boat

Many of you may not have heard, either because you do not live in this country, or ESPN and many sports commentators still will not recognize it, but my alma mater Western Michigan University has had a wonderfully successful football season. We went 13-0 in the season, won the MAC and are going to the Cotton Bowl.

I have been a fan of WMU since I was little, as my father went there, then went to tons of games when I went there as a student. Remained a fan even when our team went 1-11 for a season.

The big deal these past few years has been the mantra "Row the Boat" coined by our head coach, PJ Fleck. Here is what he means by row the boat. Many of us (yes us, as I was a little skeptical) made fun of the mantra years ago. Now, you bet your bottom-dollar that I am rowing that boat like a mad woman at a Billy Talent concert. May even buy the tee-shirt.

Wanted to highlight some of the great times had watching football. Also wanted to celebrate the fact that I have made Breaky a fan of WMU Football, despite him being from way over in California and being more of a NFL fan instead of a college football fan.

Go Broncos! And Row the Boat!

This is from... what, 2005? Sophomore year I am pretty sure

2006 home game

Western vs Central Game 2007

2007 Homecoming game

2007 Homecoming

My Dad, my sister and me at a game this year

A big group of us at a home game to celebrate Breaky's birthday! 

Greg Jennings, who played for WMU while I was there. Went on to be in the NFL for a while before retiring. Came back to participate in ESPN's College Game Day at WMU

Breaky and Duchess at ESPN College Game Day 2016 
btw-it was as cold as it looks

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Friendsgiving LAN

So, disclaimer, not my idea. Wish it had been. But my awesome friends came up with it first. And they are absolutely amazing.

Because what is Thanksgiving without a LAN, right?

Actually, this has a little bit of history to it. Back when I first started dating Breaky, I found out that he had missed Thanksgiving for years and years, because Dreamhack Winter always fell over Thanksgiving weekend. How sad! So, I took it upon myself to make the S2 Games crew a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. Invited those that would be missing Thanksgiving with friends and family to be in Sweden for work and their significant others. Even called it ThankS2giving. That was the year we had like, 12 people in my small little one-bedroom apartment. The next year, we did the same, this time at a friend's house, as it was bigger than our small little house. After that, as many of you know, S2 Games did some weird shifting around, parts of it became Frostburn Studios, others stayed, mass chaos, yadda yadda and they did not end up going to Dreamhack Winter. So that year was the first year that Breaky stayed home for Thanksgiving. We always celebrate at my parents' house in Frankenmuth, Michigan. So that was a new and fun experience. Last year, another friend of ours hosted Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving, as they would not be able to go home to family for their Thanksgiving.

This year, we had some friends that wanted to ramp things up, so after Thanksgiving, which Breaky and I spent in Frankenmuth rooting on the Detroit Lions and eating a ton of great food, our friends decided to host a Friendsgiving LAN. You heard me right. Thanksgiving AND video games. What.Could.Be.Better?

The food was fantastic, and playing Overwatch while stuffed with food and drink was an experience. We partied from around 4:30 to after midnight (I, being the old-fart, left at around 12:30 and used my dog as an excuse. In my defense, she was alone for a bit)

Look at all this FOOD! LOOK AT IT (Picture a la Jacki)

 So much food. So good

Introducing Mrs. Greenbean Featherbottom (name a la Wza and picture from Jacki)

Setting up the LAN. You can tell I am a huge help (I'm the lazy bum in the corner. In my defense, Breaky and I were set up and I break things by touching them. Safer this way) Again, picture from Jacki

Super awesome LAN PARTY

So, super cool shout out to Wza for organizing, and Jacki for hosting at their place and everyone who attended for the great food, drink, games and company. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This Can Be My Next Tweet

Thank you for the idea The Bloggess! 

I got the idea from another blog, using this new (to me) "That can be my next tweet", which you supply your Twitter handle, and it gives you new tweets based on previous tweets. I was expecting some fun results.  Evidently, this system just takes snippets of your tweets and puts them together randomly,

The Bloggess's were funny. Mine..... Oh dear God, if my tweets ever read like this, please know I am being held against my will and I am reaching out for help. It worries me a little that they turned out like this.  I blame my Dad (English teacher) for instilling this "Variety of Sentence Beginnings" or VOSB theory in my cranium. It means my sentence structure varies ALL THE TIME, evidently even on Twitter. This program does not appreciate that formula evidently

So, you simply put in your Twitter name and hit "Get your next tweet

Whut. Our new patch is a what?! Do not leave me hanging.

So is the exterminator a leaf or a game? Or is the leaf the game? The second sentence reads like a punk-rock emo lyric. 

I. Just I. And what did we do to female casters? Obviously no context.

This one is probably my favorite. Mostly for the random Detroit Lions ending. (BTW, that touchdown was amazing. Still miss Calvin Johnson though. )

And this is when I decided to stop:
STOP. STOP. WHAT? NOOOOooo no no no no. 

Ok. I didn't actually "stop" as I was morbidly curious as to what other nonsensical blubbery would randomly appear if I hit that button again... and again.

So I decided, unless it was in regards to more death *cringe*, I would post the next one to Twitter. Because no one actually follows me on Twitter. This was the result:

We will see how many people figure out it was an automatically generated tweet from the link provided, and how many people will be concerned enough to call my mother to see if I have been committed. Or kidnapped.

My husband's cookies for casting was pretty funny though. Have to admit.

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Beauty and the Beast Trailer

Oh my God, oh my God you guys!

The new Beauty and the Beast full US trailer has been released and I feel like I'm a kid again. The original movie was a huge part of our childhood, my sister and I. So much so my sister was Belle for Halloween and wore that dress pretty much from the early part of October through Christmas that year. Our poor parents probably could recite the whole movie by heart, as it was one of the movies that was constantly playing. Do you think they make that dress in adult sizes? Breaky, what do you think about next Halloween?


The new trailer finally gives us a look at a big part of the cast, including but not limited to Luke Evans and Gaston, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, JOSH GAD as LeFou (big fan btw), Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Dan Steven as the Best and of course, the lovely Emma Watson as Belle.


It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight. And now, we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair as the dining proudly presents:

If you need me, I will be at work with my headphones on, listening to this for a little while. No worries, I'm still working. Just with a little Disney influence.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blizzcon Announcement Reactions-Mostly Hearthstone and Overwatch

Last year, Breaky and I joined a bunch of our friends at Blizzcon 2015. We were able to go, as those tickets were purchased for us as a wedding present.

Blizzcon 2015-Linkin Park

We had a blast, and how I truly wish I had started blogging back then, as I would have had so much to work with. Pictures, thoughts, frustrations, videos, Overwatch insights, Hearthstone hype, freebies, and much more. It was such an amazing experience.

Now, this year we got to watch the E-Sports events from our Smart TV, which has a Twitch App (fancy), find out about updates to our favorite games from Twitter and Facebook, and longingly reminisce about the good times we had last year. Mind you, I don't miss the long lines, the congestion, waiting an hour to play one round of Overwatch, or having to take all of that time off of work. I have mixed feelings about missing it this year, obviously.

Breaky and I at Blizzcon 2015

To recap the big announcements that Blizzard made in regards to there games, and my thoughts, which you can skip if you want, you can see below:


Gadgetzan Expansion!

"Enter the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan"

Along with the expansion, we are also getting new "Tri-Class" cards, that could be used by three different classes instead of one class, or like basic cards, all classes.

Also included is the "build your own spell" cards, such as "Kazakus", where it gives you options and choices which result in a unique spell.

More information can be found here:


Now, there are a ton of new cards that have a lot of potential to be game-changers depending on what kind of decks you like to run, or don't like to come across (I'm lookin at you Murloc-Paladin), but at the same time, it has the potential to breathe new live in to the game for some.  As far as the Tri-Class cards, I find this very interesting, having played a little bit of a Priest deck that has a tendency to "borrow" cards from the deck or hand of the individual I'm playing. Makes for very interesting game-play.

It was my intention to post some of the cards that I found the most interesting, but in the words of Ulla from the Producers "But there's just so many of zem!" (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, what the movie or go see the show. Solid gold right here), actually 132 to be exact, and it is my understanding we are still getting news about new cards, and that will probably continue. 

I have some mixed feelings about the custom spell idea. It definitely combats the whole "leave it up to the RNG Gods" motto that is pervasive in the Hearthstone culture. Not exactly sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing yet. Sometimes having chaos makes for the best Hearthstone stories and matches. But on the flip side, each custom spell will be different (someone did the math somewhere and the chances of getting/making the same spell is low. I'm lazy and don't "math" so, take my/their word for it)

So instead, tell me in the comments what cards you are most excited about. What decks you are running currently that you may not continue, or which you may now try! Personally, I find my Dragon Priest deck to get some changes in a positive direction, and honestly excited to maybe try some different Paladin decks outside of, but still including, Murloc Paladin.


Overwatch introduced a new hero: Sombra
Sombra is a new offense hero that uses "hacks" to disrupt enemies and turrets , and uses invisibility and a translocator to allow quick movement. 

There is a new section that allows for a wide variety of play that we have not seen before. This, from what I can tell, replaces the weekly brawl concept.

1v1 mystery duel where the hero you play is randomized and you play against one person.
3v3 where you get to choose your hero and play with two other people in a simple "last man standing" elimination concept
6v6 Mystery Heroes: Similar to the 1v1 mystery duel, only, obviously, with 6 players.
6v6 no limits, which allows for multiple of the same hero, which is no longer allowed in quick play (YES!)

New Maps
We get two new maps, "Ecopoint: Antartica" which is an arena map. This map is the map used in many of the new Arcade modes. Another new map is Oasis, a control-point map set in the Arabian desert, and has a jump pad to allow access to a higher location (whhaaaat?)

An announcement was made at Blizzcon about the idea of an E-Sports league for competitive Overwatch.

We don't have a lot of information as far as how this will particularly look, but some information can be found here. Basically, there will be a Preseason, where rosters will be built and my understanding is that it will be by city, similar to many professional sports leagues. Players will have contracts, get paid appropriately, and compete in the inaugural season with live streams every week, all accumulating in to the World Championship.


I was able to play Sombra a little last night, and actually found her quite a lot of fun to play. The new Arcade mode (see below) allowed me to play her in a setting that was more fitting to learn a character than when I tried Ana  (which I find myself playing more and more to be honest). The hacking abilities and ultimate made me assume she would be more of a defensive or support character, but after playing, I can see how this would be considered an offense character. While I prefer more of a support or defense style character, I can see myself playing her, when the novelty of a new character wears off. 

I really like the Arcade concept. This allows for more casual play, allowing people like me, who main heroes in Quick Play and Competitive  because of comfort and ranking reasons, to try new heroes in a new kind of environment.

Am liking the one new map: Ecopoint: Antartica, which I tried as a result of playing a bunch of games in the Arcade Mode. No complaints. Have not tried the other map yet.

As far a the league, we will see. I have seen first hand how attempts to organize and contractualize E-Sports has done in the past. Questions remain, such as Casting talent and how that will look, if the teams will have to sign an exclusivity clause in their contract, and how already existing E-Sports organizations and teams will fit in, if at all. Obviously, I have no shot or interest in becoming a competitive player in any E-Sports league, let alone Overwatch, but as an avid watcher of E-Sports events, it will be very interesting to see how this pans out

Overall, interesting announcements. Can't wait to see what happens.