Monday, August 8, 2011

Tried a Couple of New Games

Over the past couple of weeks I've downloaded and played a couple of MMORPG games that I have wanted to play for quite a while. These being Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. Downloading the games takes quite a while, days for me where I live and at my connection speeds, so I'd leave the laptop to download while off at work. But after waiting for that and the installation I had the game & could start playing. Both games are free to play now (they used to be pay to play-but now they had a store where you buy upgrades and expansions. Basically, to get the full game experience you need to play them some cash-otherwise certain features are unavailable, such as items, areas of the game and the highest levels your characters can achieve.)
Dungeons & Dragons Online was my favorite of the two from my short experience playing. Here you are thrown into a dungeon within the first couple minutes of play and afterward you arrive in a village where you can do repeatable adventures leading into instances all around the village and island. Gameplay was fast paced and enjoyable. The only part I found a bit annoying was the slow leveling-I'm used to leveling my characters fast, as in WOW. I about 3 days playing I'd only gotten my dwarf cleric to about 5th level. The game is made to take longer however, so I guess that it must be accepted to be this way.
Lord of the Rings Online is a very enjoyable game as well, but it seems to be played for the most part outdoors, in cities or in the countryside. There was little underground/dungeon activity, though I did see a few in the short time I've played. Leveling is faster than in D&DO, I suppose because it works a bit more like most other MMORPGs (EQ & WOW to name a couple, where leveling is fairly quick). I saw little resemblance to the books/movies except for map locations and playable races. You do hear people talking a bit (NPC quest givers/narrators) but none are the actors from the movies. I guess they didn't think that that was desired by the players.
One major drawback I found & saw on forum boards that others found this annoying too, was the lack of bag space in your inventory. And you cannot craft or find more bags-with the exception of rune-stones and maybe crafting supplies. There were no normal bags you could craft or buy, and this to me is a major problem. You get 3 bags in both games, that's all. I did see a good bit of room in the bank vault of LOTRO, though they limited you to I think about 30 items to deposit (unless you pay to get more). Both games are free to play & I'm sure that many people just play them for free-but to really get the best play experience paying to at least be a VIP is recommended. Though I don't think I will-I just don't have the money or time for that-I'd play WOW if I did as it's a better game than these.
Overall, they are worth playing for a free fun distraction & to burn a few hours every once in a while. I don't recommend becoming a pay to play player though as I'm not sure paying would make them all that much more worth it in the long run.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

One Way the US could solve Our Debt Crisis

The idea came to me, and others too as I have read on the Internet, that selling Alaska (probably to China) could get our country out of it's huge debt crisis. The debt is at just over $14 trillion, which the land of Alaska is probably worth today. There are pros and cons for doing this that I can think of:
Pros:
1> We would be out of debt-at least for a while until the idiots of government put us back there again.
2> Downsizing/restructuring our country during this economic period might be a good idea. We could keep the number of states at 50 by splitting California into a north and south-many there say that they were wanting to do that anyway. Or find some other place to make a state-maybe make Puerto Rico into a state.

Cons:
1> We would lose our largest state, 2nd is Texas. (Texas is 2nd in population too with over 25 million people, while Alaska is 47th with under 1 million people).
2> The people in Alaska would either have to move-relocate to some other US state-or find a way to stay in Alaska (or whatever name it might be changed to by the buyer). This would also mean many people would have to change jobs and create a rise in unemployment.
3> We would lose the natural resources provided by Alaska-oil, timber, copper & other precious metals, seafood, coal & also the growing tourism and service industry sectors.

I'm sure there are other pros & cons out there, this was all I could come up with at the moment. Having Alaska as a US state is to me is an unnecessary luxury considering our present situation. And I would bet that the sale would be possible and desirable. Do I think that it will happen? No. But stranger things have happened before, so I won't rule out the possibility. Maybe if we run out of options, like we just might in a few years when the US is about to implode in on itself like Greece appears on the verge of, we will have to consider doing this as a last resort to keep America financially viable. Otherwise, our great land might all become the property of some other nation.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Amazing Hike By A Local Resident

Published in The Birmingham News; Sunday, July 31, 2011:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Samford grad Jennifer Pharr Davis on Sunday set the record for the fastest hike of the 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail by anyone -- man or woman.
Starting off at 4:06 a.m., June 15, atop Mt. Katahdin in northern Maine, the 28-year-old 6-footer hiked the trail in 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes.
The previous record for a supported hike -- where helpers supply food and drink at trail crossings and help set up camp each night -- had been 47 days 13 hours 31 minutes, set by Andrew Thompson in 2005. It took Thompson three tries to set that record, and he lost 35 pounds in his 2005 effort.
"It was a very, very difficult record to break," Pharr Davis said this afternoon, in a phone interview after finishing. She averaged nearly 47 miles a day for the entire endurance hike.
Three of her former Samford classmates and five people from Birmingham were among the small crowd of family and friends that greeted her as she finished her epic journey atop Springer Mountain in north Georgia.