Always at Risk

If you’re at all familiar with who I am, then you know that I drive for a living; either in a van or bobtail box truck. Being a driver comes with the acceptance of the fact that you’re always at risk of being involved in a vehicle collision, be it minor or major. Even if you’re a careful defensive driver that is aware of your surroundings, there will always be a chance for the unexpected to occur.

Something that you can cannot control; something that could potentially take your life.

For me this occurred exactly one year ago, approximately around this time of day. But before going into the details (based from my recollections and the highway patrol collision report) let me go back to before the accident.

It was a beautiful and seemingly normal Friday. I had completed the morning half of the cart route and was returning back to the branch I work out of to unload and then eat lunch (a “footlong” Subway chicken sandwich that I picked up during my break). I was running slightly behind schedule as I had encountered an issue at a previous stop, but otherwise everything seemed normal, or as normal as you might expect it to be.

Shortly after merging onto westbound US-50 I was witness to a large tractor-trailer tail-gating a very small Volkswagon coupe or sedan when suddenly the driver of the Volkswagon had the balls to brake check the semi.

Quck note: this was not the cause of my collision, but it is somewhat related. Or at the very least gives some more flavor to my story.

Naturally the driver of the semi did not take too kindly to the brake check and began driving rather aggressively to attempt to keep up with the Volkswagon after speeding off following the brake check.

Folks. Don’t ever brake check a semi. It’s just stupid. REALLY STUPID. You won’t win that battle. So just don’t. EVER. Okay?

At this point traffic was rather light, so I didn’t think too much of what I witnessed other than noting that the drivers were both assholes. Major ones at that. I carried on as usual listening to whatever podcast I was listening to (amazingly I’ve completely forgotten what I was listening to).

Being that it was right before lunch-time traffic did increase after crossing over one major street and approaching another. Traffic became rather congested in the #4 and #5 lanes (of 5 lanes) with cars merging on to the freeway and other cars preparing to take the next exit. Prior to this I had moved into the #3 lane which was devoid of cars to avoid the congestion.

Being that I was driving a bobtail box truck I was on high alert for drivers that love to dart out in front of you, sometimes with a short indication with their turn signal, but usually without. As such I was focused on what was in my right-frontal cone that I did not expect to suddenly feel an impact near the rear-passenger side of the truck I was driving.

It came suddenly and without warning and with so much force that instantly the bobtail I was driving began to turn to the right after the initial force of impact moved the rear of the truck to my left.

My initial thought was that the semi (possibly the same that was brake checked earlier) I was passing in the #4 lane had struck my truck. The force of the impact certainly seemed to support that theory, but at that point it didn’t really matter. All I could think about was “WHAT. THE. FUCK?” as I held on trying to fruitlessly correct the massive momentum shift of my truck.

Considering that the truck was fully loaded (more so than usual, actually) there was nothing I could to prevent the truck from overturning on to the driver side and skid along the freeway for what seemed like an eternity. Now had the trajectory of my truck not changed following the initial impact this story would be far less scary and would be now over.

But nope. There’s more.

Like I said, my truck started to turn to the right after the impact and prior to overturning which changed the trajectory of the skid towards the shoulder of the freeway, which just happened to be a concrete barrier near the top of an overpass.

Now here’s where my recollection is a little hazy. I’m not sure if the truck had completely overturned prior to impacting the side barrier or after. What isn’t hazy is that had I been in one of the older cab-forward bobtails I would probably be dead following the impact with the side barrier. Instead I was driving one of the newer, more traditional bobtails with the engine in front of the cab.

That engine saved my life.

The force of the impact with the side barrier then caused the truck to “bounce” off and spin/rotate on the driver side, finally coming to a rest blocking the #4 and #5 lanes with the nose of the truck pointing towards the center divider after a third (much smaller) impact with a concrete sound-barrier wall on the overpass as it declined.

After coming to a complete stop and realizing that I had survived the multiple collision I took stock of my condition which fortunately was surprisingly good. No broken bones that I could tell at the time, just a massive burning sensation on my left thigh from when the truck overturned and my body impacted the interior of the driver side door.

Now at this point many people ask me as to how I was able to exit the truck considering that the truck had overturned on to its driver side. Well, that my friends is pretty easy: I just walked out where the windshield used to be. You see, the impact with the side barrier was so violent that it sheered much of the engine cabin apart which compromised the integrity of the cab causing the top of the cab to separate from the dash.

I almost wish I had pictures of the damage, but then again it’s probably better that I don’t. The damage was extensive and it’s a miracle that I walked away from the accident with abrasions and a large contusion to my left thigh caused by having my personal keys in my left pocket.

So what caused the accident? My initial theory of the semi proved to be incorrect as the only other vehicle directly involved in the accident was a red Toyota Camry that had struck the truck I was driving.

Yes folks. A CAMRY. A flipping Camry hit me with enough impact to move my truck.

WAIT. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? HOW?

Yah, good question. It wasn’t until I got the highway patrol collision report that it became a little more logical to as how a small Toyota Camry could have caused the resulting collision.

According to the testimony of the driver of the Camry (note: I’m not going to go into specific details here for obvious reasons) there was a semi travelling in the #4 lane that came into her lane possibly impacting the front of her vehicle, causing her to lose control and then veer sharply across the #4 lane and impact the rear tires of my truck.

Due to the lack of information which could identify this semi beyond “a brown tractor-trailer” the collision was ruled a hit and run felony by an unidentified brown semi-truck.

Yup. Felony hit and run by an unidentified third party involved. Case closed. Awesome, right?

Anyhoo, I just thought I’d finally open up and share this story on the anniversary of my accident. Figured it might be a little therapeutic since I have been feeling slightly more anxious prior to today arriving.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering. Yup, still driving for a living (though usually in a van) but I have gotten behind the wheel of a bobtail numerous times since. There will always be risks in everything you do. I decided to control my anxiety, not let my anxiety control me.

(Though that was after a couple of visits with a psychiatrist shortly following the accident) 

Sitting Down to Nothing

Ever have those semi-extended periods of time where you have every intention to do something semi-productive only to sit down to do said thing and lose all motivation or focus? That’s been my week so far. I have a semi-excuse in that I’ve been sick for what seems like weeks if not months now with a sinus cold that WILL NOT DIE.

I have projects and games piling up that I need to get to and it seems like I can’t get anything done. It’s super frustrating and the energy that I’ve been able to scrounge up has be devoted to pulling my ass into work and trying to be a parent to my two young children. There have been moments when the cold ebbs and I do get something done, but never as much as I would like.

This blog post in of itself is a miracle and yet at the same time is another sterling example of my lack of focus. I should be editing a 90 minute interview that Lanntonio and I of the Shattered Soulstone conducted with the awesome Sibcoe and Dred of Red Team Gaming and Diablo Expressions respectively. Then there’s the fact that episode 35 of the Shattered Soulstone is still need of being setup to record. OIDS.

Alright, enough whining and/or bitching. Time to be productive as much as I can during this lull in the “storm” as provided by the miraculous medication known as Sudafed. *snort*

Creamer with a Hint of Coffee

Odd title, yes? I know. I’m strange, but that’s a good thing, right? Especially for a blogger because otherwise you all might be BORED TO TEARS while reading my blog. Well, okay. I shouldn’t oversell my oddness, I’m not really that odd. In fact in some ways I’m actually pretty normal in most aspects of my life … but WAIT … OH MY … what did I do? I just completely derailed the opening paragraph of this blog post.

OOPS!

Before I attempt, fruitlessly, to get this back on track I suppose I should explain the title. I love coffee creamer, especially of the hazelnut variety and especially if it’s from Lucerne. I love it so much that I usually put a pretty hefty amount of creamer into my coffee, especially of the iced variety. So naturally my wife always likes to give commentary on my coffee drinking habits by asking “Are you going to have any coffee with your creamer?”

You see, I’m that guy who likes coffee, but doesn’t like coffee. I can’t drink it black, nor with only sugar and milk. There needs to be some flavor there to mask the bitterness. Now don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate the bitterness of coffee, but I just like there to be something there worth it, preferably hazelnutty which is another short anecdotal story that I feel like sharing.

See, I’m sharing. It’s the Nevik sharing the semi-intimate details of his life post that everyone craves every now and then. Right? The sweet nutty details of my inner-workings should give everyone a better insight to just how goofy and odd I can be.

Anyhoo, back to the anecdote.

Prior to meeting my wife I was a french vanilla guy. Wait, no not that far back. My transition to a hazelnut guy was a bit more recent with the purchase of my home. French vanilla was my go-to when it came to coffee flavors. I think back in those days I was a bit more outwardly odd with happily dying my hair every shade of the rainbow (not all at once, mind you) and blasting industrial bands such as Front 242, Wumpscut, and Ministry out of my car so craving something so vanilla was my balance in life.

Did I just equate coffee to being my balance? Whoa. That’s not right. I didn’t even drink a whole lot of coffee back then, but when I did, it was flavored with french vanilla.

WAIT. I’m forgetting something.

I didn’t just jump from french vanilla to haznelnut. No, no I did not. I think there was a vanilla caramel phase that bridge that gap. Yet that doesn’t explain how I got there and why I mentioned my wife as being instrumental in my becoming a hazelnut guy. See, at the time my wife was all about hazelnut creamer in her coffee and one day she secretly conspired to make me love hazelnut too.

Okay, I’m fibbing. She didn’t force me to like it. I tried it once and thought “hmmm, this is pretty tasty” but didn’t instantaneously convert. It took several weeks, if not months, before I fully switched over and now that I have, I can never go back. Believe me, I’ve tried. There’d be those moments at work when ALL THE HAZELNUT was gone and all that was left was french vanilla. Yah, those were not good moments at work, which reminds me of one other important fact: I despire room temperature Coffeemate creamers. They’re horrid. Pretty much Lucerne or go home for me.

Yes, I’m odd and this post was purely inspired by my iced hazelnut coffee that I consumed while writing this. Thank you iced hazelnut coffee, you’re the best. You really are.

 

Extinguishing the Inferno

Oh boy. By the looks of the calendar I’ve come awfully close to not updating my blog for two months. TWO MONTHS! That’s absolute madness. It wasn’t for a lack of potentially having something to blog about as I’ve been up to plenty of things. All the things? Some of the things? Who knows? Definitely not me.

Anyhoo, what could have possibly kept me away from jotting down words for all of prosperity … or at least for my own sanity? I’ve been in somewhat of a funk for the past two months from the lack of being allowed to work resulting in my coping with several bouts of insomnia and a general feeling of aimlessness. I just felt like I was spinning my wheels and getting no where. Fortunately my daughter started 2nd grade (although that was weeks ago) which enforced some structure in my daily routine and my bouts with insomnia have been curbed.

So what have I been up to?

As I initially alluded, I’ve been up to lots of things. Well okay, maybe not a ton of things, but interesting things nonetheless. Probably the most interesting thing that has developed in the past week and a half is the fact that I’m filling in on my good friend Rioriel’s blog, Postcards From Azeroth, while he’s taking a much-needed hiatus from the game to recharge his batteries. I’ve always admired Rioriel and his blog so being able to contribute in my own way has been electrifying. Having an outlet for my artistic juices has revitalized my drive to get back to what I do best: art and design.

Wait. Is that what I truly do best? Well, perhaps procrastination is what I do best, but art and design would be a close second … maybe. Gaming, blogging, podcasting and living definitely wouldn’t be up there. Oh heck, who am I kidding? Getting under Rilandune’s skin deserves mentioning — I’m exceptional at that — but I digress.

So other than scouring through my screenshots and transforming them into pretty postcards for everyone to enjoy I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo 3. A. LOT.

I knew going in to D3 that I was going to become addicted to it, I just didn’t realize that I would invest over 500 hours to it in only four months. Granted there were a few occasions where I burned out a smidge on grinding and farming for little benefit, but there’s just something about the Diablo formula that GETS ME as a gamer. I’m always chasing after the “something amazing could drop from the next demon” and with patch 1.0.4 at least I can channel that into grinding Paragon XP. As of this moment my main wizard, Malnevicent, is sitting halfway through paragon level 18 and my newly minted wizard, Aiom, is paragon level 2.

Yes, folks. I do indeed have TWO level 60 wizards. Why? Why not? Everything little thing she does is magic.

My reasoning behind the madness it is actually quite simple, I want to enjoy more than just one playstyle with the wizard. Malnevicent is my tanky melee wizard whereas Aiom is my shits n’ giggles wizard where I’m not afraid to experiment with wacky builds. I could elaborate on that a bit more, but I think I’ll save blogging about Aiom for another day. I’m still honing a REDONKULOUS wizard build — which I’m sure will get nerfed come 1.0.5 — so I’d rather blog about it separately.

As for my main wizard-squeeze, Malnevicent, I recently completed all of Diablo 3 with her. Yup, that’s right. Malnevicent slayed Diablo in Inferno last week with the help of a few friends of the Shattered Soulstone podcast: Swaying Mango and MDB3. It wasn’t quite the walk-in-the-park that a lot of D3 elitist have made it out to be, but in the end we stood there victorious … err, well at least Swaying Mango and I did since sadly MDB3 had to drop immediately preceding our victory. Perhaps MDB3 was dragging us down? I kid, I kid.

If you’re familiar with the Diablo encounter, the sticking point in our multiple failures was always the Realm of Terror. Diablo isn’t too much of a threat, but man those shadow clones of ourselves … THEY HURT. BADLY. No I don’t think you quite understand the depth of which they hurt you. Getting gibbed from two simultaneous wizard’s meteors is … depressing. There was also this little issue that since both Swaying Mango and I were more tanky wizards, our DPS was rather low.

After two failed attempts I swapped out Wave of Force for Archon – Arcane Destruction for slightly better DPS burns. I lost my stacks of Nephalem Valor but getting phat loots from Diablo wasn’t my goal. My goal was to complete Inferno in its entirety, preferably before any further nerfs to its difficulty happened. Needless to say when Diablo finally toppled over for us to kick his/her limp body I jumped out of my chair and fist-pumped, repeatedly.

I know many, many, many people have long since had this accomplishment under their belts but it in no way diminished my feeling of accomplishment. Inferno is HARD without amazing gear and to finally clear it out with my moderately decent gear felt amazing. I did it, ME, and it felt great.

Now with Inferno completed I can go back to farming … and fighting the urge to switch Malnevicent over to Aiom’s build. How’s that for a tease?

Justified Neglect

It’s hard to surmise how many times I end up neglecting this blog. It happens, a lot. LOT. It’s also amazing to think that less than a week after my last blog entry I had a near-death experience. Well okay. It wasn’t that close, but I wouldn’t still be here if I had been driving a cab-forward truck. I can’t really go into detail about what happened, but suffice to say I walked away from what happened.

Anyhoo, I figured I owed an explanation as to why it’s been nearly a month since my last blog update. I haven’t been completely removed from the meta, but I think you might understand why this blog has suffered yet another lapse in attention. My attention has, understandably, been elsewhere but as I’ve stated many, many, many times before I will always come back.

My blog has always flourished when I’ve had things to say and recently I just haven’t had a whole lot worthwhile to say. If this update is any indication my recovery is coming along and with my pursuit of normalcy thoughts have returned to my blog. I feel like I have things to say again, the only challenge is finding the time and sanity to sit down and write.

Fortunately sanity has returned long enough for me to get this out. It feels great to be on the mend and feeling more normal. And to still be alive, of course.

So there you have it. Love it or hate it, I’m back and hoping to get in to the swing of blogging more regularly again … hopefully ^^;

No, I really mean it. Really.

*smirk*

Broken Records but not Promises

Here we are again as we have been sooo many times before … another lengthy lapse in posting to my blog. Should we go through the usual half-apology, half-explanation?

Naaaah, we understand. Really we do. Really. /eyeroll

No? Okay. Let’s get back in to the swing of things and type out some words for you, my dear oft-neglected readers (which number in the tens? ^^; )

It would pretty fantastic if there were some awesome news to report on why I haven’t blogged since the middle of July, but there isn’t. Between conditions at work becoming increasingly stressful and my free-time disappearing to tending to my almost eleven month old son I just haven’t been able to get in to the proper mindset to sit down and type. Often instead of trying to push my brain into semi-functional half-coherent rambling-mode I’d opt to log into WoW and do dailies. Something mindless, something to take my mind off the stresses of the day.

Wait, I thought you weren’t going to explain your lapse. What are you doing?

Good point. I can’t break bad habits, so you’re just going to have to deal with that. Errr, well I mean it has been almost FOUR months since I last posted something, I feel like the least that I could do is give a little bit of an explanation.

Fair enough. Carry on, carry on.

As I was stating what I’ve mainly been up to isn’t much of anything, just the usual boring stuff. Well, that isn’t to imply that watching my son grow has been boring, which it hasn’t … quite to the contrary … just that mostly everything else (that I would blog about) hasn’t been outside of the norm. I completed the arduous task of completing the Molten Front dailies on both of my 85s (mage/rogue) and got both my DK on Nevikhoof and shadow priest on Cenarius into Cata-content.

Speaking of my poor, poor shadow priest when I dusted her off I was having a heck of a time trying to kill things out in Storm Peaks. Killing a single mob took a healthy chunk of her mana and if there was an add … forget about it. It was like I had forgotten how to play a shadow priest and I was having horrific flash-backs to when I tried going OOMkin with my druid in Outland. Then, I noticed something … something incredible … something HORRIFYING …

What? What’s in the box?

Points for the Seven reference, that is a fantastic movie. I think I’ll have to watch that again here in the near future.

*Cough* Ahem *Cough*

Oh right, what’s in the box. Got it.

What I noticed was that somehow I had leveled my priest up to level 78 (where I left her long before Cataclysm launched) without GLYPHS!

Oh … my … words are failing me … woooooooooow ….

I know, right? Crazy.

After rectifying that little issue my priest went back to melting faces without issue, until she hit the speed-bump named Vashj’ir. One does not simply walk into Mordor … errr I mean Vashj’ir decked out in Wrath leveling greens and blues. You’ll get your face smashed in by the tremendous iLvl leap when jumping into Cata-content as a fresh level 80. If you recall, that was one of my worries prior to Cata’s launch but after visiting the auction house and dumping 800g to replace a good chunk of her gear she was back in action.

Quick aside, my DK on Nevikhoof didn’t experience a similar issue when questing through Hyjal … then again she is a blood DK and was able to over-power everything tossed at her in Wrath, therefore having slightly better gear when making the jump.

Anyhoo, once my priest hit 81 and trained mind spike her play-style changed dramatically. Instead of having a compelling and fun rotation, all she needed to do was toss mind spike three times and then mind blast. Essentially she went from being a warlock to an arcane mage, only without having to worry about her mana pool to deal ALL THE DAMAGE.

Booooo hissssss!

I tried going back to using the old rotation but it couldn’t keep up with the damage output of the new two button gameplay. Well … there is occasionally the need to toss in a shadow word: death when the mob didn’t fall over from boredom. So I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my priest. I’ve tried playing as an arcane mage and quickly grew so bored of it that I went back to frost but there isn’t another DPS option for me to fall back onto.

Wait. Did you just try to state that FROST is a viable DPS option for Mage? Are you mad?

Yes, and yes. However let’s not side-track this post into debunking the myth that frost mages can’t dish out the DPS … they can.

Fine. I’ll let you live in your little fantasy bizarro world where frost mages deal damage.

Thank you, I think.

Other than preferring the mindlessness of what I’ve been doing in-game I have spent a smidgen of time on my other neglected alts. My dwarf rogue and tauren paladin have seen some playtime, but not really enough to warrant writing about. My mage has gone back on PVP-hiatus potentially until 4.3 when fire mages finally get some love so there’s nothing there to write about unless you want to hear about how I’ve taken her back to the Argent Tournament to become a Crusader.

Naaah, that’s so last expansion. Sounds like you’re wrapping things up?

Indeed I am, but before I do there is news on the podcasting front. Awhile back I was approached by Medros, the mad-man behind Dawnforge Productions, to start a Diablo podcast for his network. Considering my love of the Diablo franchise how could I not say yes? I mean, Diablo was my first true gaming addiction before World of Warcraft came around. Alas the Shattered Soulstone was born, a podcast for all of the loot-crazy deviants like myself, Breja and Jen.

Wait. What about The Overlores?

Don’t fret, The Overlores is still happening, just not as frequently as it once was. As you might deduce from the lack of activity on my blog, things have been hairy for getting together and making the magic of the Overlores happening. Rilandune, Kharendos and myself are still committed to putting out shows for you to consume so do not lose hope. Never lose hope … I haven’t.

With that I think I’ll call this a wrap. There’s still plenty of things that I would like to write about, especially about Mists of Pandaria and how excited I am about the prospect of being a troll monk. And then there’s the little thing called DC Universe Online going free-to-play, but that’s better suited for a post of its own … eventually.

I’m Batman!

Catastrophic Empathy

I know I’m not the only one, but ever since the catastrophic 9.0 quake and resulting tsunami devastated the north-eastern coast of Japan I have found it nearly impossible to function normally. Then there’s the on-going nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and I can’t help but feel depressed over what has happened. I can’t help but check in daily/hourly to see the latest developments in hopes that things are finally under control only to come away even more depressed as things continue to deteriorate.

Needless to say I haven’t been myself since the end of last week and I’ve found myself in my own downward spiral, unable to cope. That was until I thought about trying to express the grief I’ve been feeling with words. Being a Debbie Downer is never fun, but I feel if I had kept this bottled up it’d make that return to normalcy that much harder and have far more dire consequences.

And that just wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

A lot of my empathy stems from the terror I felt during the 7.1 ’89 Loma Prieta earthquake although it pales in comparison to the strength and length of what hit Japan (even one of the fore-shocks was stronger!). If you’ve never experienced a powerful quake, it’s hard to adequately express the sense of terror and panic that sets in after say 10 seconds of continuous shaking/jolting. It’s at that point where you begin to worry “this could be the big one” and to think that the 9.0 lasted for over a minute … words fail me.

And as if the earthquake wasn’t enough, the first-hand videos of the tsunami engulfing entire towns and turning them into a huge debris-ridden slop …

I was absolutely dumb-founded at what I saw second-hand. I suppose that’s exactly what many people were feeling as they watched the ocean swallow their homes, a sense of complete disbelief. Surely this couldn’t be really for really reals be happening? Right? Once the reality and gravity of it all sunk in I simply couldn’t keep myself from crying. In fact I still can’t keep myself from tearing up thinking about the devastation.

It’s just too much …

And yet it wouldn’t be healthy to completely succumb to despair. Even in the worst tsunami-stricken areas there is hope to be had; stories of neighbors taking in complete strangers, stories of survival, and stories of the steel resolve of the Japanese people. These stories are shining beacons of humanity and it is heart-warming to see the out-pouring of support and love for those affected; we can be truly amazing creatures.

My heart and thoughts go out to everyone affected by these catastrophic events. Your resolve is an inspiration to us all.