rragnaar / Member

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rragnaar Blog

A fond farewell...

Last night I posted on the private mod board that I'm resigning. I just don't have the time to keep up anymore. That coupled with the closure of the Ring of Fire, a semi-private hangout for a lot of us oldschool GGD folks, means that I'm not going to be around much anymore, if at all. We've moved the Ring of Fire offsite thanks to some hard work from Juradai. That's where I'll be when I've got time to be on the internet. I've been here for 8 years, and I think I've been a mod for about 5 of those years. That's a good run. My personal and professional life have both been eating away at my forum time and my game playing time. I don't get to play much online anymore, but if you want to, you can shoot me a friend request on PSN or Steam. I'm Ragnar on PSN and rragnaarr on Steam. It's been fun.:)

One Year later...

Today is the anniversary of my good friend Loren's death. Last year I wrote:

"I'm hoping that this time next year I'll be healthier, smarter and happier."

Things are going really well on that front. I've taken 30 credits since going back to school. I've got 8 As and 2 Bs. I've lost 30lbs, and in general, I'm feeling really healthy and really happy.

We are meeting up in the park tonight to get drunk and disorderly and play this rad game called Kubb. Basically it involves throwing pieces of wood at other pieces of wood. A very fitting game for some sad drunks looking to let off some steam. I hope all is well with everyone. I'm sorry that I haven't been around much in the last year, but things are going really well.

Goodbye 2011...

This has been the most transformative year of my life. I'm happy that it is almost over and I'm a little weirded out that my 20s are coming to an end this March, but I guess I had to 'grow up' sometime, or atleast get old.:P Anyway, I'm happier now than I've ever been. It took some tragedy to get me to this spot, but I think that is how the world works. I lost some important people this year. We had two people die in my group of friends and another childhood friend of mine commited suicide. The hardest loss was my friend Loren that I've talked about before. I know some of you played Battlefield with us, he was lojomofo on PSN and I'm not exaggerating when I say he was the best squad mate you could ask for. Playing Battlefield 3 isn't the same without him. I know that is cheesy, but it is true.

Seeing him die at 28 from cancer opened my eyes. We are all vaguely aware that we could die at any time, but it doesn't really seem real until it happends to someone you know. Once he passed, I made plans to quit the family business and go back to school. It has been weird to be 'free' from my family. I still talk to them all the time and I still help at the shop, but I feel like an adult now that I'm not working for my older brother and my dad. I thought I'd feel guilty about leaving them, but I haven't really. It has been good.

School has been amazing. I'm well on my way to becoming a history teacher and I'm loving every second of it. I've got one more test today and then I'm done for the semester. When it is all said and done I'm going to have four 'A's and one 'B'. My history of eastern civilizations cIass was easily the best. Chinese and Japanese history are pretty remarkable things to study and the books we read for that cIass were excellent.

Over the break I'm going to be looking at all of my grandfather's war memoirs and typing them up so that they don't get lost. I'm also going to hunt down this taped interview with him and see if I can record it and convert it to mp3. He recieved two Purple Hearts and his unit liberated Dachau. I haven't read through his journals since I was maybe 12 or 13 and I'm really excited to get to work on preserving all of this stuff.

In terms of Gamespot stuff, I'm still a little lost with the changes made to GS. Most of it doesn't bother me. I think loosening up the rules in general will be fine, but I'm still unhappy about how the GGD is being handled. It didn't fall apart over night when they removed all the old rules, but I'm still unsure of what I can moderate and what I can't and I find myself a little disinterested in the board right now which kinda bums me out. Renaming it to the PGD and opening up to the hoards of barely literate children of the internet may make it more active, but I'm still not sure that it will make it a better board.

Outside of that, I've just been brewing lots of beer. My chocolate coconut stout will be ready to drink by Christmas and we've got a coffee stout fermenting in my living room right now. I'll be playing lots of Skyrim, BF3 and MGSHD over the break too. It is going to be really nice to have a month of downtime.

The War On Sanity

Apologies for getting political again. I'll try not to be as obnoxious about it as I was in the lead up to the 2008 election. To be clear, I'm not saying that all conservatives are insane, I've just been watching the Republican candidates closely this last week and am shocked by what it means to be a Republican candidate. You have to be anti-gay, anti-science, anti-poor and completely belligerant on foreign policy matters to run for the GOP nomination. Let's look at our pal Rick Perry and his ad called "Strong"... Not only is there no constitutional reason to keep gay people out of the military, his comment on schools and the "war on religion" is just mind boggling. The 1st amendment has two important clauses:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Basically they can't help you and they can't stop you when it comes to religion. This is what you see in public schools today. Kids can pray, they just have to do it on their own. I suspect Perry knows this on some level and is just engaging in dogwhistle politics, but it is a shameful ad. This response from Second City was pretty hilarious.

The Rolling Stone had a fantastic writeup on the current state of the GOP 2012 candidates. Only 28% of the country identifies themselves as Republican these days and I think what you are seeing is that GOP candidates have to swing so far right to appeal to that base that they alienate pretty much everyone else.

If Obama can make some headway on the economy, I think 2012 is all his. I like the guy, but I've been disappointed with his presidency. Some of that disappointment comes from the constant GOP opposition keeping his administration from getting much done and some of that comes from him either picking the wrong fights at the wrong time or not picking fights at all. I think we are at a spot where the Democrats are sabotaging themselves by not being stronger. The GOP is belligerant and stubborn to a fault, but the Democrats could learn a bit from that. They cave in too easily and don't show the strength of conviction that their conservative counterparts have. I think it is admirable when they want to compromise, but it is also stupid right now. There is no meeting in the middle when it comes to this current iteration of Republicans so trying to compromise with them only serves to undermine progress.

Anyway... enough rants for the day, I was just pretty shocked that a candidate for President in 2012 would run such a backwards and bigotted ad. Next week after finals I'll be writing up a year in review. A lot has happened this year and I need somewhere to write about it. This has been the most bittersweet year possible. Lots of great things and lots of pain. I hope you guys are doing well.:)

Another month, another beer...

Last month I was talking about my chocolate coconut stout. It turned out awesome. This Saturday we made a pumpkin ale. It smells fantastic.

It should be ready for Thanksgiving.:) Outside of that, life continues to be pretty good. I've got a lady in my life and school is going really well. I think I'm going to get straight As this semester. I just signed up for next semester's cIasses today. I got everything I needed which is nice. I should be graduating faster than I thought I would.

As for nerdy stuff, I beat Dark Souls last week and started a new character, I've got a good 12 hours into Battlefield 3's multiplayer and I'm loving Arkham City. Figuring out what game to play has been hard and it isn't going to get any easier when Skyrim comes out.

Busy, busy, busy...

About a month and a half ago, I was on here talking about how I had all the time in the world. How quickly things change. Good lord. It has been great being back in school, and even right now in the thick of it, I'm loving it. I had a big test in my Political Science cIass yesterday, downloaded the Battlefield 3 beta and bottled my chocolate coconut stout all while reading up on the Roman Empire and preparing for a big essay test on China for this Friday.:P

Here is my chocolate stout. When this picture was taken we were siphoning it into my bottling bucket. Look at that inky blackness! I've never seen a beer that dark. It tastes great. I can't wait for it to carbonate.:) I've also got a date tentatively scheduled for sometime this weekend. She is in my western civ cIass and is super cute. She asked me out for coffee sometime this weekend, but I've got a two day Basque History cIass that I've got to go to, so I'm not sure how we'll swing it. I may just say that coffee won't work and take her out to dinner.

It is such a nice change to go from having nothing going on to not really knowing how to fit all of these great things in. It'll get even crazier next week when Dark Souls comes out. I need to learn how to juggle.:P

Our First Big Batch

Early this week, my friend Ben and I bought a bunch of brewing equipment. If you read my last blog, you'd know that we've been getting into homebrewing for a while now. This is our first big batch. It is going to be a really strong India Pale Ale, my favorite kind of beer.

We've got my new brew kettle there sitting on top of a propane "turkey fryer". You let your barley steep in the water until it begins to boil.

Here you can see Ben pouring in some malt extract while my friend Mark stirs the wort.

Here is a cool shot from later on when we are adding our hops. This is the first time we've used hop buds instead of ground up hop pellets. Pellets are a little easier, but I think we are going to get a much better flavor from these ones.

Once you've cooked all of the hops in, you cool your wort down from 220 degrees to 70 degrees and it is ready to put into a fermentation bottle.

This time we are doing a process called 'dry hopping'(make your innapropriate jokes Steel. I know they are coming.:P) Dry hopping means that you put some fresh hops into your fermentation bottle without cooking them. They will sit in the bottle for the next ten days until we transfer our beer over to another bottle to finish fermenting. I love this stufff.:)

All the time in the world...

Hey everyone. How goes it? Things are good here. Last wednseday was my last day working for my family. Since then, I've been slumming it and waiting for my student loan money to come in. A good friend of mine and I have been brewing beer together. Our first batch is finished and ready to drink. it didn't carbonate as well as we had hoped, but it still tastes good. Our second batch smells amazing and we are using the right sugars to get it carbonating well. It should be somewhere around 8% alcohol by the time it is ready. We bottled it this last Saturday as well as starting a batch of hard cider.

Outside of that, I've just been watching Netflix and riding my bike around. I haven't driven my car in almost two months and I don't miss it. Almost everywhere I want to go is no more than 10 minutes away. School starts next week and I can't wait to get going on it. I've got ADD and I think that was why I dropped out the last time I attended Boise State. I went to the doctor last week and got a prescription for ritalin. It is already helping. I'm already back to where I can read books without fighting the urge to check the internet every 10 seconds.:P Anyway, things are going well. It feels so good to no longer be working for my family. I've gone from working 50 hour weeks to having nothing to do. It is a little weird.

Ch ch ch ch changes...

How are you guys and gals doing lately? Things are going well for me. I feel like I've been existing more in the real world and less in the digital one, which is good, because for the last five years I think I've been rragnaar much more than I've been Aaron. I haven't had much time to be on the boards and outside of a compulsive push to hit level 50 in Bad Company 2 and platinum the game, I haven't been gaming much lately. It feels good. My dad had surgery on his spine a few weeks ago and I've been picking up a lot of the slack here at work and helping to train the temp guy that we've got doing our stonework right now. All the while, I'm also trying to finish things up here at the shop so that when school starts I can quit my job and know that I haven't left any loose ends for my family to tie up.

I bought a new bike on Friday. I absolutely love it. I think I rode about 50 miles this weekend. It is such an improvement over my old mountain bike. The best part was that I didn't have to spend any student loan money on it like I thought I would. The only downside to my new bike is that I destroyed my front tire and tube this morning when I dodged a car that was about to hit me. It cost $60 to get a new tire and tube, but my wheel wasn't damaged and the bike shop repaired it on my lunch break, so I'll be back on the road tonight.:)

Anyway, things are going good. I haven't felt this optimistic or happy about things in a very long time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings.:P

Thread backfire?

We recently had to ban thompson20. If you ever read the Ask the Mods board, you are probably aware that he was both a source of frustration and entertainment. Anyway, I thought I'd put together a thread to commemorate his passing. The guy was certainly one of the more... um... unique users we've had on the site. Anyway, I think most people thought it was all in good fun, but not everyone. I rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. There were several people calling for the thread to be locked or saying that I should step down as a moderator. I guess it raised some questions about what you guys are looking for in a moderator.

I've always tried to be a poster first and a moderator second. I think it is the only way to handle a volunteer position without turning into a heartless jerk on a power trip.(Something we get accused of regularly.:P) I've seen countless threads for banned members on OT, and unless the poster was well liked, usually the threads contain a fair amount of mockery aimed at the banned person, and it has always been a nice thing as a moderator to finally speak your piece about someone. When I made that thread, I feel like I was acting as a poster and not as a representative of Gamespot. I didn't want people to miss out on the hilarity that was thompson20. To a few people on the outside of things, it looked like I was abusing my position to humiliate someone on this site. That wasn't my intention at all.

I guess in a sense, I'd like this blog to stand as an apology to anyone who took it the wrong way. I don't regret posting the thread for a second, even though it did sorta spiral out of control at the end. I do think that there is a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' sort of situation that comes with being a moderator. If you act like a regular poster and try to have some fun, you are going to get a certain segment of the community complaining about how your actions are totally inappropriate and that you should step down. I won't speculate as to their motivations, as I probably wouldn't have nice things to say.:P On the other hand, if you try to step in and enforce the rules with people that you've been posting with for years, they will say that you've become out of touch with the community. I've been told a few times by a handful of people that I used to be cool before I became a mod. I really don't feel like I've changed, but I suppose that is a hard thing to gauge for one's self.

It can be disheartening at times, but that is how it goes. I enjoy this community a lot and I'd like to continue contributing both as a moderator and a poster.:)