Monday, November 25, 2013

A look behind the curtain

So, for all those who have been wondering - yes, there have been some pretty major developments going on in our lives for the past several months. I know there have been cryptic Facebook posts referring to mysterious classes; sleepless nights; and fear, doubt, and anxiety. We are finally in a position to let the world know what it is we are up to.

We are getting ready to adopt a child.

I know, it seems crazy. We are in our forties, and just now getting ready to move forward with first-time parenting. When most of our friends and classmates are dealing with graduations and weddings, we are dealing with the jitters and nervous exhaustion of trying to prepare ourselves for the first-time introduction of a new life into our marriage. It feels a lot like jumping out of a plane without checking to see if our parachute is working first: breathtaking, exhilarating and terrifying all at once.

A wise friend of ours suggested that we treat the months before the adoption as our "pregnancy" - several months of preparation and emotional adjustment leading up to expanding our lives. We have been doing exactly that, and are now entering our 4th month of "Adoption Pregnancy". We have jumped through most of the hoops required by the State to certify that we are even qualified to become parents, and are now getting ready to start evaluating the children currently in the system waiting for families. It is heartbreaking, in a way - we spend time out on the Heart Gallery looking at all the children in the system and want to be parents to them all. And the Gallery is only one potential site to identify kids waiting to be adopted!  We know we want an older child, not an infant or toddler. Other than that, our home and hearts are still open, waiting for that perfect child.

Most of the questions facing us right now are focused around our own adequacy. We are poor. We are kinda weird. We are not cool at all.We are older than normal. For heaven's sake, my brain is broken!! What if the kid doesn't even like us? Are we going to bring a child into our home and have them wishing to move back into foster care inside a month due to our incompetence? 

And then, after hyperventilation and nausea have passed, we remind ourselves - mainly what we have to offer a child is love and acceptance. And from our early days with X-Zalt and Chosen through our relationships with our nephews and nieces we have always had overwhelming amounts of both to share with the kids in our lives. We will never be Perfect Stan and Suzie Homemaker, I am afraid. But we can and will provide a child with love and understanding, and a safe and stable place to launch themselves into the world from; and to return to when they need some safety or a hug.   And, in the end, that is what these kids in the foster system desperately need.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, and we will try to keep you all posted.

Wish us luck,

- TJ

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And the answer is...

Well, we have our answer as to what Peter King's opinion about epilepsy really is. In response to a very well-written plea for understanding from the parent of a child with epilepsy, here is King's response:

"I’m simply asking the question about how practical it is to have a college football coach on the sideline or in a locker room, going down more than once a year, on average, with a seizurein full view of a television audience and a stadium full of fans. I’m not trying to be insensitive. I’m trying to be practical. It just seems the wrong job for that. Am I wrong? Probably. Am I being insensitive? Maybe I am." (Emphasis mine)

Again, King is perfectly ok with seizures, as long as he doesn't have to see them.

I can make a list of positions that are the "wrong job" those of us with uncontrolled seizures. Brain surgeon. Airline pilot. Scuba instructor. OTR driver. We should not, however, find ourselves disqualified from any position simply because the world at large might have to see a seizure. Period.

Sadly, this is it for my many years of following Peter King's writing. I will no longer buy his books, buy or browse a Sports Illustrated, will no longer visit, will no longer watch NBC's Football Night in America. He has made it perfectly clear that he is perfectly content to "be insensitive" to those of us with seizure disorders, and I will not support him or those who employ him to use his position as a forum for this divisive message. 

Will this ultimately make a difference? No, probably not. Reading through pages of comments on the issue on various forums yesterday, I discovered a very large number of people are out there who are totally in line with Peter King - take those seizures somewhere where I don't have to see them, you weirdos. I will, again, be sending a copy of this to Sports Illustrated, to Peter King, to our local NBC affiliate, etc., simply because I can't sit back and do nothing while this willful ignorance continues.

Thanks to everyone that has read the blog these past 24 hours, and especially to those who have communicated their own unhappiness with King's opinions about those of us with epilepsy. We've still got a long way to go, I am afraid.


Jeremy Schofield

Monday, September 16, 2013

Once Again, Ignorance Rears Its Ugly Head

(Not Gaming Related!)

On Mondays, I tend to wander over to Sports Illustrated's webpage to check out the Monday Morning Quarterback column by one of my favorite sports writers, Peter King. And, today, there among all of his praise of my beloved Miami Dolphins, comes this nugget of "wisdom":

" Can some doctor out there tell me why the University of Minnesota should keep Jerry Kill coaching football after his fourth seizure in three years on a Gopher game day? I don’t want to be insensitive. I’d really like to know if it makes sense to keep him on as coach."

And, suddenly, I am asking myself if I can ever read an article by this guy again.

He isn't alone: CBS Sports Gregg Doyle is asking the exact same question to his international audience. I am sure there are others, equally ignorant, out there who are personally put off by the idea of having to watch a seizure asking this question, but I am too angry and depressed to go looking for more evidence.

The fact that these questions are being asked about a coach of a football game is the most bitter irony - you know, football? The game responsible for so many brain-related injuries that the NFL just put out a $765 million dollar settlement to cover concussion injuries? Note to sports-writers: brain injuries can cause seizures. If you are too delicate to deal with seizures, maybe you should be reporting on curling or something.

And here we have a dedicated college coach, who not only works tirelessly for epilepsy awareness, but has also set up a foundation to help out low-income juvenile cancer patients, being questioned by those reporting on the game as to why it is he is having seizures out in public where people can see them? Never mind his overall collegiate record (139-89, by the way ). Never mind he has gone 12 - 16 with a Gophers program he was specifically hired to rebuild. Nope, we just need to worry about the horror of actually seeing a seizure, in public.

To Mr. King and Mr. Doyle (both of whom will be invited to read this post, though I doubt either will) - the ADA specifically exists in order to protect those of us with disabilities from the small-minded opinions of people like you. Epilepsy is not contagious. It is not demonic possession. It is a disease, a malfunctioning of the neurons in the brain. As well recommend that college coaches who are older and overweight be prevented from being on the sidelines, lest they have a stroke or a heart attack while people are watching. As well prevent an amputee or a paraplegic from being on the sidelines, in case it disturbs you to see someone who is not whole, and is working tirelessly to overcome their disability as Coach Kill is.

Epilepsy is real, and it is not going away. Over 3 million Americans suffer from it, and we are tired of being demonized, marginalized, and told that we should be suffering in private where those of you who consider yourself "normal" do not have to see us. Some of our greatest leaders, visionaries and artists over the years have struggled with this condition, and they have historically been treated no better than you are currently treating Coach Kill. Enough is enough.

Coach Kill, I am not a Minnesota native or a Gopher fan, but I am on the list of your supporters. Please continue to do your work of successfully coaching College Football, as well as your work supporting epilepsy and cancer assistance. There are many of us rooting for you, who hope you can overcome the overwhelming social stigma that still attaches itself to those of us with Epilepsy. May God bless you, your family, and your work.

Jeremy Schofield,

Day 4 and a Happy Birthday

First things first - a Happy Birthday to Rusted Iron Rat  Josh M ("Bojengle"). I know it is Monday, but make sure you do something fun today anyway! Happy Birthday from the Rats organization!

And now, on to the fun of...

Day 4
Your Best Gaming Memories

Again with the memories and the confusion therein. Well, I still have a few memories lying around, such as:

The day the Rats passed 50 members (World of Warcraft): I distinctly remember counting up our leadership during 2009, and discovering that we had over 50 characters on our roster. Now, most of us had terminal Alt-itis, so this may have equated to like 20 actual people or so. But I felt so awesome, thinking that maybe we were really onto something here with the Rats, maybe we would finally be able to go run a raid or something. Which leads me to...

Our first peek into Karazhan (World of Warcraft): In March of 2009, only 2 years after the release of The Burning Crusade, the Rats finally made it into Kara. We over-leveled it to the point that only 5 of us went in, but it was just totally exciting that our guild was finally heading in to one of the great touchstones of the game. I believe we turned out to not have enough bodies to deal with the "energy beams" mechanics of the final boss, and were thus prevented from grabbing the achievement that same night, but we were on our way to raiding Naxx and Ulduar.

Meeting the Colorado Mafia (Real Life): November of 2009 (Guess 2009 was a good year?) we were on our way home from California and stopped in Denver to drop off our niece, who had travelled with us. That same evening we were able to meet up with several members of the Rats, who all lived in and around the Denver area at that time. Lor and myself were joined by Bo, Majan and Bright for our first (and currently last) real-life get-together. It was so awesome to put faces and personalities to what had previously been pictures of hulking Orcs and Tauren, as well as voices over Ventrilo. That evening is still one of my favorite memories in general, not just of the gaming variety.  But my favorite gaming memory is still...

Loralia's Anniversary present (WoW/Real Life):  In 2010 I wanted to give Lor something that resonated across both the worlds we lived in - both World of Warcraft and reality. For our wedding anniversary (2nd/22nd for those keeping track) I ordered her a custom mousepad with a depiction of Loralia the Tauren Druid on it, so that she had a real, tangible connection to her alternate identity. It was a hit - she loved it so much that she still uses it to this day. Well, heck, see for yourselves:

A real, tangible connection to the fantasy world we loved so much and spent so much time in. Funny how time (and pandas) can change things.

The Rats Reunion (League of Legends): Earlier this year we had a unique opportunity - we had 5 of the Rats all online and playing the same game at the same time for the first time in 3 years. Bright, Krusr, Obeah, Lor and I all climbed into League of Legends at the same time and ran around killing bots like it was going out of style. It was a joyous reunion, especially when Bo joined us later. I began to hope we had found another place where all the Rats would find a home to hang around together again.

Ah, well. There is a big world of games out there - one of them is sure to appeal to ALL of us in some form or another. I promise you all, new Rats and old, I won't stop looking. Here's to making new memories!


- Urf

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 3

Day 3
Your First Day Playing an MMO

Among the many inconveniences of Epilepsy, one really stands out - memory loss. Thanks to a combination of organic brain tissue loss and side effects of our mind numbing medications, epileptics tend to lose big chunks of their long term memory, and I am no exception.  And located somewhere within that sea of lost memories is my first day playing an MMO.

I know the game - Everquest. I even know the day: March 16, 1999. Frustratingly, I can even remember standing in line at CompUSA to purchase the game that day, but can not remember installation, character creation, nothing. I loved EQ, though. Later on down the road I had a Barbarian character who I can vividly remember tooling around their ice and snow laden starter area. I can remember trying to walk across the starting continent. I can certainly remember the horribly long corpse runs that the game started with - no convenient respawn points in EQ 1.0, no sir. You respawned back at your starting city and you hiked back to your corpse if you wanted to recover your stuff.

Good times.

Being the king of short attention span even in those days of my youth, I didn't stay in Everquest, of course. But I did leave a full stable of characters behind me there. And I am given to understand that EQ has gone to some version of Free-to-Play these days. I suppose I could go download the client, get Sony to tell me what id and password I was using and take a look around there, see what I left behind me....

Nah, better not. Better stick with LoL/TSW/Wizard 101.


- Urfeck

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

...And then, it happened.

Sorry for the delay in blogging, everyone - Sunday and Monday are the "weekend" around here, and starting Sunday night Blogspot had a very strange authentication error that kept a BUNCH of us bloggers from doing our thing for a few days. Seems to be all straightened out now.

So, before I return to 20 Days of Blogging, just thought I would hit everyone with the status update. Lor and I have been largely pursuing independent game interests for almost a year now, League of Legends being the only place where we hang around together anymore. She is just far more interested in light game-type entertainment, whereas I have always been really captivated by complicated and esoteric. So, we have been going our own ways when we aren't getting the snot kicked out of us in Summoner's Rift.

But, on Monday morning, I was just worn down from all the conspiracy theorizing in The Secret World, and beaten up from our time in the queues at LoL, and I decided I wanted to go do something silly and light. Having just read through a bunch of my old blog entries, I had been reminded of the existence of Wizard 101. I installed it on the new machine, and then spent a few minutes delightedly running around the campus and playing with my deck. Unbeknownst to me, Lor was watching from behind me the whole time, until she finally erupted with "I want to play, too!!"

And that, my friends, is how Lor and I have spent 12 hours of the last 2 days revisiting a game we had left back in 2010 when we headed back into World of Warcraft. Despite all the "kid's game" elements of it we have found we still love the humorous writing, still love the CCG mechanics, and are now totally interested in the huge amount of "stuff" that has been added in the last 4 years.

So, add yet another game to our list of things to do - but in this one, we are doing stuff together again, for the first time in almost a year. And I have been reminded of how much I enjoy being partied up with Lor in an MMO, working on quests together, without the spectre of PvP competition hanging over our  heads at all times.

Don't panic! We aren't leaving League of Legends! Just spending our non-LoL gaming time together again. It sure has been nice.

Day 3 (of 20) coming at you tomorrow morning.


- Urfeck

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Day 2, and a BIG Congratulations!

First things first - a big shout-out "Congrats!!!" to Damion2001, the latest of our merry band to reach level 30 in League of Legends. We've now got 8 of us (ok, 7.5 since Obeah is semi-retired) ready to take on the merry world of Ranked Matches. Bronze 5, here we come!

And with that, on to...

Day 2
Why I Decided to Start a Blog

Ah, history. My first blog post took place back in January of 2009, and not even on this blogspace. Over on Wordpress I used to maintain the Rusted Iron Rats Blog, specifically for the purpose of communicating with our World of Warcraft guildies and potential members. I used to cover guild events, world events, even did a multi-part series on learning Instance basics. It ran for nearly a year, until the Great November Uprising which ran Lor and I out of the Rats, and entirely out of WoW for a spell. At that point I decided I had better switch my focus, and created the blog we are in today.

Why create one, though? I have always loved to write, and nowadays I am much better at communicating via the written word than I am verbally. I frequently become the voice of research in any game I am playing, and a blog is an easy way to place my discoveries and ideas, allowing people (including myself) to refer back to them. It is also an excellent way to put "holes" in my gaming day, forcing me to move out of whatever MMO I am inhabiting and into the real world for a period of time.

As far as why I continue a blog...well, someone is reading this. I have upwards of 70 hits on many articles, and over 6,000 total over the history of the blog itself. If it is that interesting to a few people, then there is no good reason to discontinue it, I suppose. Even if I think the majority of the subject matter is a bit esoteric - whether MMO gaming, Epilepsy, or Miami Dolphins football the potential audiences aren't really that big :-) I am just glad that some of you are finding some value to it. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.


- Urfeck