Monday, April 30, 2012

Mayhem's weekend visit

Mayhem paid the Ecology Center a visit Saturday and brought severe storms along with it.  A thunderstorm rumbled through the area, complete with hail and strong winds. Some areas received baseball sized hail, while other locations only got pea-sized hail. My neck of the woods didn't see the strong winds, but the Ecology Center certainly did.

The Ecology Center has over 20 acres of woodland that borders a creek. Many big, old trees are within those woods: Cottonwood, Sycamore, Black Walnut, White Oak, Black Oak, Silver Maple and American Elm among many other tree species. Seeing the biggest trees down broke my heart.

Here are a few pictures of the same tree. This picture shows that the ground was pulled up, exposing the roots.

This is the other side of that big clod of earth.

And here is the tree that pulled the ground up when it fell.

I took many pictures of the damage Mayhem left in its wake and none of them do justice to the destruction.  The whine of chainsaws could be heard first thing this morning and I found a trio of men in hard hats working on the black walnut tree. It was a big beautiful tree too.

Snapped trees was a frequent sight all over the Ecology Center

And countless times I came across trees that had fallen across the trail, forcing me to create my own path. In this picture, the path is blocked by two trees.

Of course the first thing I thought of when I arrived were the chickadees residing in the nest box in the woods. A large part of a tree had fallen very close to the box, but the box and the residents within, were unharmed.

Over the last few years the Ecology Center has started planted new young trees within the woods. I know I won't see these trees mature in my lifetime, but it's reassuring to know that someone in the future will appreciate their beauty.

Mayhem's weekend visit has reminded me not to take all of the big, old trees for granted. When the sun is shining and the paths are cleared, I will go out and take more photos of those beautiful trees still standing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Look out WoW, there's a new game in town.

I will confess there's another reason I've been neglecting my blog, and it's a big one. In December, Bioware released a new MMO game,  Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Up to this point, I've been a World of Warcraft (WoW) fanatic, only playing Aion and Rift for a short time. But WoW, there's a new kid on the block nipping at your heels. The mechanics of Star Wars are more-or-less the same as WoW with fighting, moving, buying items in an Auction House and crafting items such as weapons and armor. But the biggest difference between the games is that Star Wars has story lines  for the individual classes, several companions you can choose from that assist you in your quests and fights (usually every class gets a healer, dps, tank), and dialogue options to converse with your companions and the quest givers , not to mention there's a romance option with one of your companions for all the classes.

I initially rolled up a Jedi Consular Sage (basically a healing class) and had a hard time getting into the game. The storyline was slow and I didn't care that much for my companions. I played the game maybe 3 weeks and was about to let my monthly subscription expire when I rolled up a Trooper. Holy crap. That changed everything. The story had me enraptured, I liked the companions, especially cat man  Aric Jorgan, (Timothy Omundson, incidentally does the voice for this character) with Yuun and Elara as close followups.

But this entry isn't about the classes you can play or their companions. I may do entries on them at a later date. Rather, I meant for  this to be an overview and to share the point at which I really got into the game. Yes, it was the trooper that rallied my enthusiasm, but the quests on Tatooine really got me going. Tatooine brought back all the memories from the original Star Wars movie. I grew up on Star Wars. I was Princess Leia for Halloween one year, I had a poster of her on my wall, and my sister and I played with our Star Wars figurines.

Remember hot, arid, sandy Tatooine from the movie?
It's here and there are bad guys. Remember the Sand People, the guys who beat up Luke Skywalker and rooted through his land speeder before Obi-Wan Kenobi saved his ass? Yeah, they're all over the place and they hate everyone who isn't part of their clan.

The Jawas are here too, but the game portrays them as annoying, but loveable scamps, similar to the goblins in WoW. I thought they were mean in the movie, but it's been awhile since I watched it.

And there are Banthas too!

The game has many of the same aliens, cantinas, space ships, blasters, lightsabers as the movies too. It's a nice walk down memory lane.  Yup, I'll be writing more about the game in future entries.

You've been warned.