It seems silly to me that people still don’t know what Meniere’s is. I guess that is because it has become so central to my life these days. For the last couple of weeks I’ve toyed with writing several articles on various subjects, including some work on short fiction that I’d like to finish someday.
But for the entirety of these last few weeks my hearing has been burdened by painful tinnitus. So loud that I can’t even soothe the sound away with rainymood or any other white noise treatment. I have a hard time forcing coherent thoughts through a barrier of noise that impenetrable, much less the capacity for multiple readings necessary to weed out all the random keystrokes that slip in when you aren’t paying attention.
I wandered over to a fellow sufferer’s blog earlier today (thanks to my reddit habit) and noticed he had put a new entry up on it. For those of you who don’t know what Meniere’s is, I’ll post a short quote;
Symptomatically, most people experience “attacks” of violent rotational vertigo (feeling like the room is spinning), a feeling of fullness and pressure in the affected ear, loud ringing known as tinnitus, and progressive hearing loss. Many sufferers also report nausea, cognitive impairment (brain fog), fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Meniere’s disease affects .2% of the population, roughly the same rate of incidence as Multiple Sclerosis. Yet virtually no one has ever heard of Meniere’s disease.
Here’s the bit that caught my attention. A study I’d never run across conducted in 2000. The sample size is on the small side, but it still represents a statistically valid group. The attention grabbing quote was this one;
“Meniere’s disease patients are among the most severely impaired non-hospitalized patients studied thus far … Patients describe impairment in travel, ambulation, work and other major social roles as well as trouble learning, remembering and thinking clearly.”
While this is clearly hyperbole from an unknown author (I can’t seem to track down the original article quoted) the dense jargon in the study backs up the statement. Quality of life is reduced below the levels of deathly ill cancer patients. Very few of my vertigo attacks (frequently referred to as drop attacks) didn’t include my begging everyone in earshot to please kill me. The sensations are intolerable, and yet you have to tolerate them. You cannot escape them. Had someone offered me an easy way to end it all while in a vertiginous state, I would have readily taken them up on it.
That is what Meniere’s is like on the bad days. On the good days I just kick myself for being unable to accomplish the simplest tasks because I’m lucky to remember my name from one minute to the next, like the last two weeks have been. There are days I forget. Mercifully, there are whole months that go by and I’m not forced to remember why I’m not working in architecture anymore. Looking forward to having a few of those days sometime in the hopefully not too distant future.
Back to the point. The point of writing this. Meniere’s awareness. At the bottom of the Mind Over Meniere’s post (I hate that blog name. Sorry. I’m sure mine is annoying to many as well) is a link to yet another Change.org petition. One amongst thousands. This one seems silly, but maybe it will have a genuine effect if Bono can be convinced to help raise Meniere’s awareness. Who knows? Couldn’t hurt to have someone say the word Meniere’s in front of a crowded audience. Surely someone will notice.
The song they’re asking him to announce in front of is Vertigo. It goes to show you how far out of music that I am; I don’t think I’ve even heard the song before. There was a day when I knew every artist on the charts. Knew who they were and what they sang. The last thing I remember U2 doing was Joshua Tree. Are they still a thing?
Anyway. Sign the petition if you are so inclined. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. All I know is that I want this damn ear to stop ringing so I can organize a few thoughts.
One of the things I always wanted to do from the time I was a small child was write an autobiography. I’m not sure why this was, maybe it was my fascination with reading and my exposure to the autobiographies of Winston Churchill & Bertrand Russell at a young age, but it was something I always wanted to do myself and never had time to do.
I was many things before I was afflicted with Meniere’s. A father. A husband. One of a number of siblings; the oldest after our brother was killed in a motorcycle crash at the age of 21. Four of us grew up together, with a fifth who was raised almost as an only child because of the complexities of modern marriage.
I was also an architect for a brief time.
It’s what I knew I wanted to do from when I was a child. I would explore construction sites every time I stumbled across them (still do if I have someone with me to watch my back) built structures with wooden blocks to test them, then carefully disassemble the failed structures to see what caused the failure. Dreamed of being an archaeologist long before the name Indiana Jones was a thing. All things constructed by humans fascinated me. I would disassemble broken electronics just so I could see what secrets were inside them. I wanted to know how everything worked.
It was a drafting class I took in high school as a Senior that gave me an avenue into my chosen profession. It had never occurred to me that everything man built had to be documented first. This is true even today, especially today, with the ease of design using computer assisted drafting; even simple projects benefit from time spent designing in advance. Every piece of furniture purchased at IKEA has a set of documents to illustrate it’s assemblage; and every page of those documents has to be handwritten by somebody. The illustrations have to be crafted by somebody with an eye for what perspective will best show how the assembly occurs.
I was one of those people. I took great pride in my documents. While my name isn’t on any assembly documents for furniture, I did do a stint in a cabinet shop. Worked for a Civil Engineer for a brief period. Learned how to pace out yards with reasonable accuracy while carrying a large load of sensitive equipment. But my love was for buildings first and foremost, so the majority of the work I took was for home designers, builders and architects. I had a hand in the renovation of the main building for Zilker Gardens here in Austin (my favorite project) Worked on several school buildings. Designed several parking garages. Researched and documented every door in the Motorola MOS 13 building project. Fifty-four (ish) details in all, just for doors, including a faraday cage isolation room and an explosion-proof door for hazardous storage.
It takes a college degree to become an architect these days. If you want to be a structural engineer it takes a degree and 10 years of apprenticeship. I couldn’t afford college without work, so I took classes for drafting from a local trade school, and eventually ended up moving my family to Austin to be near a university with an architecture program.
When my wife got pregnant, I gave up the idea of college and taught myself enough architecture to pass the exam, then worked for architecture firms long enough to qualify to take it. It used to be possible to apprentice your way into a license. This was almost universally true, being the method that most professionals learned their trade in previous centuries. Texas was one of the last states to allow this form of training.
I just made it in under the wire, having to retake the only portion of the exam I failed after the new rules went into effect. Funny thing was, I knew I had failed while reviewing my work walking to the car after the exam ended. It took 6 months for the state to inform me of this fact, and by the time I went back in to retake the exam the next year, it was given on computers instead of requiring applicants to draw everything by hand.
That was how fast computer assisted drawing (CAD) took over the architecture field. I was being told “we’ll never have computers drawing for us” by architects in the field one year, and knowing not one but three different CAD programs within the next 3 to 5 years, and the test to become an architect only offered on the computer shortly after that.
Architecture is a high-pressure field. Lots of time stress. Computers being introduced to the design process increased the time pressure by an order of magnitude, at least. I always worked long days (10 hours at the shortest) but with CAD the effort to produce drawings became something that could not be easily substantiated until the end of the process and all of the drawings were printed for approval.
Before CAD every drawing was physical and took up space in a drawer somewhere. Every floor plan comprised of multiple sheets of Mylar or vellum, vacuum compressed and reproduced before being sent on for printing. Drawing production was an expensive process that you didn’t embark on before getting the design of the building pretty thoroughly mapped out. You wanted as few changes as possible to show up after you started the production documents phase of process.
After CAD, the design phase began to merge with the production phase. With CAD, construction-like documents could be produced (given setup time to produce templates) in a matter of minutes, not months. You want to increase the size of the building? No problem. Redesign the entire exterior while the building is under construction? Can do (did do) design began to be something that was almost an afterthought, not a deliberative phase that could take longer than construction itself.
There was an insiders joke about scope-creep that was almost meaningless by the time I left the business; scope-creep being human nature to keep piling new things onto a project, without ever admitting that you are increasing the work performed by the design professional, the construction firm. With CAD, scope-creep becomes almost impossible to document, since no record of a change exists beyond the date-stamp on the drawing files. Taking the time to compare documents line by line to catch changes. With thousands of pages to look over in larger document sets, this is a process that almost never catches all the changes.
A consequence of this is that the days for production staff, people like me, get longer. I went from working 50 hours a week to routinely working in the neighborhood of 80 hours. Sometimes much more in one week (114 I think is my record) if that week contained a deadline near the end of it. Pulling an all-nighter became a thing outside of college, as some of my college educated co-workers noted. The stress becomes more intense, as the pressure to produce mounts.
That’s when the symptoms started. The dizziness and disorientation. The tinnitus. The vertigo and the resultant days of brain fogginess. I was so blindsided by the betrayal of my own body that I probably even started hallucinating external causes for my problems. The menieres was so bad at my last job that there was not a single week where I wasn’t out for at least a day with vertigo. Generally two or three. I was able to get commended for producing an entire project’s documents in a single day, and get fired for being sick too much, all within the same 8 month period. That was the functional end of my working life. So far.
Being out of work, my daily routine since 2005, has been a mixed bag of experiences. I’ve been able to watch my son grow up, something I missed when my daughter was a child. I was almost never at home when she was awake, spent most of my time with her rocking her back to sleep in the middle of the night. The major reduction in stress levels means I can go an entire month without a vertigo attack, which is a huge blessing from where I’m sitting. Treating the remaining symptoms is more about establishing healthy behavioral patterns (like going to bed early and getting enough sleep. I suck at that) than it is about anything else. Eating, sleeping and exercising all in their appropriate quantities. It gets quite tedious.
However, having free time has afforded me a chance to at least approximate one of the other lifelong goals of mine. You are reading a portion of it. I hope it was enjoyable.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for years. When I started the process in 2005, I never dreamed that it would take me several years and multiple advocates just to secure the disability income that I had paid for through my taxes for my entire life. But it did, and when it was finally finished my then attorney said “you should write this all down so that other people can find out how this is done. I’ll even refer my clients to it” (I’m going to hold her to that one) but months turned into years, memory fades, depression is an evil beast, and procrastination is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A few days ago a Facebook friend of mine posted a link to an article about Alecia Pennington. Now, I don’t know how much of her story is true, but her tale of being denied basic services due to lack of documentation reminded me of the troubles I went through getting my disability approved.
…and it all started with the lack of a US birth certificate. Well, actually it started with a friend of a friend who said he could act as my advocate for my Social Security claim, but several years later it ended with my getting my own passport.
I gave up working very grudgingly. I had been out of work for months before my last job, I worked some contracts but mostly just looked for work and wished I could get hired on somewhere. This went on for at least a year, and then I was offered two jobs simultaneously. One in Las Vegas that would have required me to move the whole family (I’m actually glad I didn’t take that one now) and one here in Austin working for an architect who was adamant he needed me. Knew what I was good at, was aware of what my health was like, needed me to save his business (this was how he phrased it to me) So I agreed to go work for him and turned down more money from the Las Vegas job.
I spent eight months working for him. Eight months of learning another CAD system (I think that’s 5 different CAD platforms) documenting the tools for other users in the firm, automating the process of modeling and document production as much as possible, and producing finish-out drawings for an office space in less than a day to demonstrate how the process could be completed quickly. That work, the kind of managerial design work I loved getting into, coupled with spending an excessive amount of time on paper getting to that point, through weekly active vertigo and the accompanying brain fog that slows mental processes most of the time. I spent months finishing the modeling and documentation on the building that was my primary responsibility, when it probably should have been finished in weeks. That fumble that I couldn’t explain outside of sickness ultimately left me jobless again with a family to feed and even fewer possibilities than I had a year previously.
I was literally hopeless at that point. I didn’t know what else I could do, and the bills kept coming in, with my health care incurring mounting costs of its own. I was spending a lot of time helping a wheelchair bound family friend then, and she suggested I contact a friend of hers to see if disability was a possibility. Given that the only remaining choice that appeared to me was life insurance coupled with a fatal accident, I figured I’d give the government a chance to own up to the promise that I could rely on it to be there when I was in need. So I called her friend, and we started the process.
First off, you have to have doctors on your side. You have to have a medical finding, in writing, that you have an illness which is covered as a disability. Luckily for me Meniere’s is one of those illnesses, and I had an ENT who was happy to backup my disability claim. We filled out and filed the documents and waited.
You do a lot of waiting when dealing with the government. Every time I mention filing or documents, you should understand that at least a month goes by before there is a response. That is if you are lucky. If you aren’t lucky they lose your paperwork and you have to refile and wait another month. It’s also worth noting that every single application for disability will be denied the first time. So if you don’t intend to appeal, don’t even start.
So we appealed and went to the scheduled meeting. The appeal was denied. This was the point when I realized that what I needed wasn’t just an advocate for my Social Security disability claim. I needed an attorney, because the advocate I had just shrugged and told me he tried.
After finding a reputable disability attorney (if you are thinking of pursuing disability, start by getting an attorney on your side and save yourself some time) we started another application through the process. This one had secondary documentation and signed affidavits from witnesses. This one was also denied the first time through. It was appealed. It was denied. It was appealed again. Ultimately my attorney called me one day and told me “the Meniere’s isn’t enough”. She paused for a bit. “Do you think you are depressed?”
Am I depressed? Well, I couldn’t very well admit that suicide was my only other alternative to government assistance (not without ruining the viability of that option) if I wanted to see my family fed, so I had to admit that I was struggling with just a little bit of depression. The entire tone of the conversation changed at that point. She said something like that will make it much easier for me and got back to work on my case.
I had almost given up the faint hope that disability would offer, when the approval for my claim finally came through. After two years of applications, denials and appeals, I was approved for disability payments. Just in time, because we had scraped out the last of our savings and were in the process of hocking valuable items in order to get the bills paid that month.
Just one problem. One tiny little hitch. Hardly worth the bother, really. See here, Ray Anthony Steele, you aren’t really a U.S. citizen.
I’ve paid taxes my entire working life, starting at age sixteen. I’ve never failed to file, I’ve never failed to pay. I even paid twice some years. Every time that the IRS audited me I wrote them another check, and they audited me every year that I was a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party. I’ve paid my dues for 30 years, I think I’m a member of this club, and I would be except for one tiny little problem.
When getting a Social Security card, make sure that you bring with you all the documentation required to prove US citizenship; do not, under any circumstances, allow the person handling your application to harbor any illusions that you are not 100% a US citizen or allow them to submit the application without insuring that the box “US citizen” is checked. This is of paramount importance.
I was born overseas to parents who were in the military, stationed overseas. The hospital on the base where my parents were stationed didn’t have the ability to handle a premature birth, and I was early according to the doctor’s charts. So my mom went to where the premature birth care was, a hospital off-base that wasn’t considered part of US territory. All US military bases are considered part of the US, just as all embassies are considered part of the country they represent. I wasn’t born on the base, I was born in England, at the hospital my mom had been sent to by the military doctors. As a consequence of this, I have dual citizenship. I’m a limey (it explains my love of a cuppa) as well as a US citizen. I have one of those birth certificates that makes conservatives sleep poorly at night knowing I live next to them.
When I got my Social Security card back in the dark ages before computers, we went in with my British birth certificate. They told us no problem and marked me down as not a US citizen. Forty years later, it really is a problem after all. It’s a problem because that little notation on my Social Security record means I can’t claim benefits from the US government. So long, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. It matters not at all that taxes are deducted from our paychecks every time we earn a wage. It doesn’t matter that both our parents are American citizens. What matters is the checkbox next to US citizen on the Social Security form. Believe it or not it is true. Foreigners can not qualify for benefits.
According to the computers at the Social Security Administration, I wasn’t a citizen. We had stumbled across this fact earlier in the process and when it was noticed by the Social Security representative who filed my paperwork I was assured that if the claim was validated, the citizenship problem wouldn’t be an issue. I believe the phrase not a problem was repeated then, too. Except it was. Because my birth certificate is British. Very clearly British and not American. What was needed to clear this up was a record from the embassy in London stating that I was an American citizen born to US parents. This was a piece of paper I didn’t’ have.
At this point I started talking to immigration attorneys. Immigration law is a tangled jungle of lies and deception; and nobody, not even non-immigration attorneys have a clue how immigration decisions are rendered. I’m not even sure immigration attorneys know. I did find out that the specific document I needed was called a Council Record. If I could find that document it would prove that I was an American citizen born abroad, and I would qualify for disability.
A Council Record is an obscure reference for those who aren’t up on all this legal mumbo-jumbo. I’ll try my best to clear up the confusion here. The council (or counsel) in question in this instance is the United States ambassador to England and the United Kingdom. He is the councilor that has jurisdiction over births and deaths in the country that he is ambassador to, ergo Council Record. If you were born overseas you should have a document like the one above that says you were born to US citizens overseas. That is you US birth certificate, for all intents and purposes. Hang on to that document if you run across it. It is your lifeline to access government services.
I didn’t have a council record. I had never seen said document before. I had no idea what it looked like, so I started talking to relatives. I talked to my mom first. She remembered that I came into the country on her passport, that I was listed as a US citizen when I entered the country. Unfortunately she couldn’t find that old passport, it had been lost somewhere in the 20 or so family moves that had occurred since the 1960’s. So I went back to the immigration attorney.
He told me it was possible to request a copy of the passport, if I was listed on the passport. So I found that form, filled it out, got it notarized and sent it in. Then I waited. I waited a long time, longer than any of the other times I waited on a government response. They eventually did find and mail the passport record back to me, and I was able to use that record to apply for my own passport, and that passport made me a citizen.
The government said congratulations citizen. Here’s your first check. Hang on now. This check is for one month. I’ve been working on this process to complete for nearly 4 years now. Am I not owed disability since the date of my first application? Well, yes that would be true if I had been a citizen when I first applied. But you see this date on your passport, the one saying it was issued last month? That is when you became a citizen. Once again, have a nice day, don’t let the door… Nothing doing. Four years I’ve been at this. Four fucking years. I’m not stopping till I get my four years of blood back.
At this point I’m trying to exude patience and understanding, just to see if I can get through to the bureaucrat on the other side of the desk. I have this passport because my mother brought me back to the US on her passport back in the 1960’s. That passport makes me a citizen. Says so right on this document. Well, that might be true, but that just means your mother was a citizen and she brought you home with her. Was your father a citizen?
Was my father a citizen? Was my father a citizen? Well, he was in the US military at the time I was conceived, so for all of our sakes I hope he was. I mean, we don’t want any foreigners fighting in our ranks or having sex with our women, that would be unthinkable.
I don’t know my biological father. I sent the man an invitation to my high school graduation even though I had never met him in living memory. He never replied, never attempted to get in touch with me. For all I knew he didn’t even care if I was alive or not. I was raised by two different men instead of by my biological father and both of them tried to be dad and failed in various ways. I have never seen a page of correspondence from my biological father anywhere in any record that I kept or my mother kept. He’s a cipher to me. A complete unknown. I wouldn’t know where to even contact him at this point. I don’t know if he is still alive (not sure if I care either) I’m sure he had a Social Security number, I’m sure he was a citizen. I’m sure he has a military record. I have no idea how that information is dredged up without contacting his family, which had also been tried previously and ended in failure.
So I asked the Social Security administration if they knew how to find his number, how to track down his military record. I started putting out feelers, once again trying to get that information, looking for his family to contact. At that point I finally had a stroke of luck. The Social Security administration came up with the information all by themselves, attaching his file to mine and approving the back payments without my having to do the costly and time consuming legwork of tracking down my father and armwrestling him for his Social Security number.
There was a year or two of argument about paying my attorney and discovering that they had withheld two attorneys worth of money from my back payments so they should give me money rather than try to take money away from me, but at least I got them to admit that I really was a citizen after all. That (and the money) was satisfaction enough.
Then my dad died. Not the cipher, the man I never knew. The man who tried hardest to be dad, to care. The man I could rely on even though he wasn’t married to my mom anymore. He died after a decade of battle with cancer. He made up for his earlier failures, and I accepted his apologies and considered him my dad for a good number of years before the end, even though his genes are not mine. I loved him. I loved his family and their history. I was very sad to see him go.
While we were in Colorado preparing for the funeral, going through old records and photos, reminiscing about the past, his last wife (my second mom. I think I have 4 now. Maybe even 5. Well, mom is mom, but then there are other moms. Yes, it’s confusing) she was suddenly struck with a memory. When they were going through the attic at gramma’s house preparing it for sale, they stumbled across a box of stuff that had been shipped back to the US from England when mom moved back to the States with me. There was a document about me in the box, and she didn’t know if it was important but she thought I’d want to keep it. After rummaging around in a drawer for a few minutes, she produced the Council Record that would have saved me years of work had I only known who to talk to about it. I just thanked her and gave her a hug. What else are you going to do, at that point?
That’s it. That’s my disability story finally written. I should probably see if I can remember what the appeals courts were called, track down the document numbers for the documents I submitted, just for clarity’s sake. But right now I just want to step back and admire the fact that I’ve written this damn thing. It took me long enough. Longer than it took to get my disability approved? Just about.
When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already; or when someone airs doubts about my invisible disability, are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know, what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life. Here’s the skinny on the subject of Meniere’s disease from my favorite resource.
I recently wrote a novella (so the wife says) about my 5 years playing World of Warcraft trying to complete a quest I set for myself. However, there is (at least) one other thing I did forget to mention. Gameplay in the world is generally pretty predictable, except at certain times of the year when world events occur, or on the odd years when a patch is released.
The first year I played was the release of Wrath of the Lich King, and the world event for Hallow’s End that year was marked by rolling hordes of zombies in all the cities, and mayhem that kept us lows (players who didn’t have characters at max level. Level 70 at that time) from getting anything done. A world event and a expansion pack release event rolled together, or so it felt at the time.
I remember walking one of my ‘toons into Ironforge and wondering where all the guards were, why was there smoke in the air…? Suddenly, in the distance, movement in the smoke. Players? No. Zombies! Every freaking NPC for the city had been turned into zombies by players who had been infected by the undead plague. It’s funny now in retrospect, but I had things to do in the cities, unlike max level characters. I was quite annoyed at the time. My toons took to sleeping in trees outside the cities until the the patch event had passed.
However, the first world event that took place in World of Warcraft after my subscription started was Brewfest; and Brewfest has remained my favorite event in the game ever since. When it spawned outside of Orgrimmar & Ironforge, I had no idea it was a temporary thing, or that this same event (like many others) would re-occur annually. I feel in love with it.
There was a Jackalope over the bar in the local beer hall in the Kansas town I grew up in. My dad used to love to tell stories about hunting Jackalopes; to which all his friends (who were in on the joke) would lovingly add details. I can’t speak for the other children, but I was fascinated by this cryptozoological problem. I would go looking for Jackalopes while wandering the fields near my house. Unsurprisingly I never did find one; not until I started playing around at Brewfest. The purpose of Brewfest was to get your character blind drunk; or rather, the program responded (and still does, to some extent) to each beer you drank by making the screen images progressively fuzzier, distorting perspectives into tunnel vision. Also, after you’ve drank about three strong drinks, invisible creatures started to appear. Little horned rabbits with wings. At first I thought I was seeing things. I really did feel like I was drunk (still do, sometimes. I blame the Meniere’s) and where did those creatures come from?
They were labeled Wild Wolpertinger in the game. Researching the name, I discovered that Jackalopes and Wolpertingers are related; related by beer. Wolpertingers are commonly found on display in taverns in the Bavarian region of Germany; and Jackalopes seem to be found in German settled areas of the American Southwest, also to be found in taverns there. I had discovered a long drinking tradition, the telling of tall tales while indulging in the spirits at the local drinking hole. My father, whose mother was of German descent, was simply carrying on the tradition.
“Hey newb, did you know you can dismiss your user interface by hitting CTRL-Z?”
The first year I played, you couldn’t catch Wild Wolpertingers, but you could purchase a pet one with tickets (and your pet is invisible to everyone but you. Unless they are drunk) You can catch them now, just like you could when the event first started, but that year you couldn’t. I had to have one, so Tharthurm and I spent some quality hours working at Brewfest to get tickets for the Wolpertinger. Even took some tourist shots with the local guardsmen.
It was the event of Brewfest, combined with this whole new world to explore, that made me fall in love with the game.
It was after getting the pet (the pet that no one can see but me) and having it summoned pretty consistently for months, that I began to identify with the Wolpertinger; after all, it and I were the only consistent things across the various characters I played, and the other players couldn’t see either of us. So I started using it as my avatar across many boards and platforms I post in, using the cryptozoological beast to represent me. I commissioned a piece of artfrom an artist I know so that I wouldn’t have to violate Blizzard’s copyright to it’s own game images. Hers looks better than theirs, anyway.
That is where I am today. Represented on the internet by a cryptid that my dad used to tell great stories about, and that I rediscovered in a game I just happened to be playing because a friend asked for a favor. If you play WoW and haven’t taken time to get your What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Beenachievement, You are missing out on one of the more interesting parts of the game. You should at least try Ram Racing. Do it now, because Brewfest is here!
First the praise, now the criticism. Three years ago the designers at Blizzard got lazy and they gave up offering new mugs (the in-game collectable for this event) and at the same time disabled a handy feature of the game for new players. The old mugs were a useable item, and gave a buff which was useful in game. Rather than scale the buff for new releases of the game, they simply replaced the real mugs with a magically refilling baby bottle that does nothing. Bring back the mugs! Bring back the buffs! (this is true of Hallow’s End candy as well) Update the gear drops for mid-xp and end of xp events, for crying out loud! Make it desirable to do the events, so that people will do them.
The toons don’t get blind drunk killing Dark Irons anymore. I get it, we want to be sensitive to people who don’t approve of drinking to excess, but it’s a game for crying out loud. I still go around killing everything that moves in the game, and I don’t feel the urge to do that in real life. I also understand that players become ill watching the drunken graphics. Me too. It would be nice to be able to just kill the visual effect with an easily findable toggle when it gets to be too much. But that is aside from the point of drinking beer and throwing mugs to down the Dark Irons. What are we saving the kegs for anyway since they can’t be used to refill mugs? See the first critique.
Finally, let’s admit the game has changed. Pandaren should be top brewers, not Ogres. Ogres make some nasty strong drinks, but Pandaren have turned brewing into a lifestyle. They should not be relegated to a booth in the corner quietly selling also items that have no bearing on the event itself. None of my Pandaren will even go to the event until they are properly represented as the best brewers on Azeroth. Call it a protest. The rest of them will be there, though.
Back on September 2, 2008 a good friend of mine asked a favor of me. Really, it was probably the only favor he ever asked of me, and to me it seemed like such a small thing, I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t help him. He’d been playing World of Warcraft for a few years at that point, and he was having trouble getting groups together to complete content; not to mention that they were giving away mounts for recruiting friends, and they were really sweet Zhevras.
I had played Blizzard games many times over the years (I would have said I preferred the Real Time Strategy games if you asked me) I liked playing head to head with family, a pastime (and a blog article I’ve been working on) that went back years. Diablo II was a favorite in the house and when World of Warcraft was announced at the end of Warcraft III I hoped it would be something like that game in execution. The cheapskate that I am refused to even entertain the idea of paying for a game on a monthly basis, so I dismissed it as a possibility even if it was something I might like.
A few years later, and a lot more time on my hands spent indoors fighting the symptoms of Meniere’s, made the idea of spending a few dollars a month for game access seem like a bargain. I’d be doing my friend a favor, and I had already asked him to shave my head earlier that year as a symbol of support for his going through chemotherapy again. A request to join him in a game I secretly wanted to play anyway was easy in comparison.
So we started playing. Almost from the beginning I got off on the wrong foot in the game. I had no idea that the two factions could not talk to each other or play together. I created Horde toons (a Tauren Warrior & Undead Warlock) on a server he was playing as Alliance (in fact, he only played Alliance) so he had to make new toons to play with me. My daughter only wanted to play Night Elves (her favorite race from WC3) and she had already created a toon on another server that I just had to join her in playing. Being fond of Rogues from Diablo, I created a NElf Rogue (female, of course. All rogues are female) to play alongside her druid. I quickly created a whole slew of NElf characters with the intention of playing all classes as NElf, only to discover that not all classes could be played in all races. That lead to the Gnome mage Brenelbur and his evil warlock twin, but that was when the plan got out of control.
I hatched a scheme to level one toon (character) of each class, and I would do this for both factions, with a genuine attempt to play all races and both sexes for each race with at least one toon. When I mapped this all out, there were nine classes, which Blizzard expanded to ten with Wrath of the Lich King and eleven with Mists of Pandaria. There were also fewer races, with Worgen and Goblins being added as playable races in Cataclysm (Draenei & Blood Elves having been added in Burning Crusade, along with Alliance Shaman and Horde Paladins. I started playing at the end of this expansion of the game) so I had to skip a few race/sex combinations. This was made easier on the alliance side, because I saw no need to play humans in a fantasy game. I could play that in real life by turning off the computer.
When I started this quest, this scheme of mine, I really thought it would be no sweat to complete. A few months playing, and all done. Then the new classes and races were added, and the levels increased, and I began to wonder if I had even been sane when I came up with this crazy idea.
With the announcement of the release of Warlords of Draenor in November 2013, I knew the time to finish this quest of mine was now or never. Ten more levels on 22 toons would probably be more than I was interested in doing, and I really didn’t want to fail. So, earlier today (August 14th, 2014) I finally leveled my twenty-second toon to endgame, level ninety. A birthday present for myself, and a nice way to close out the favor I started for a dear friend whologged offa few years after we started playing. I’d like to offer a heartfelt thanks to Bear, wherever he is, for making me take up this silly game. I think it has kept me sane, if this is sanity.
One of the things that has improved over the years I’ve played this game has been the website. The last time I tried to do a toons & servers update, I had to clip photos from screenshots for each toon. This version may be more boring to read, because I won’t be adding photos for all twenty-two toons, but it will be significantly easier to write. The links for each name will lead to the stat page for each of my toons. Better than clipped art, it is proof that the toon exists and represents an example of how it is set up, and what it looks like currently.
My main Horde toons are still on Terenas, although the server is really a backwater in the game and it limits my ability to play content that is limited to the home server. Blizzard has been working to combine servers and content, so this might not be a problem much longer. Of course, I could just level new toons on other servers, and that process technically has already begun. However, these are the eleven I count as main Horde;
Olaventa – OrcShaman (Herbalism, Inscription) from the lowly also-ran who started out as a male with a different name, this toon has graduated into becoming my raider. Shaman are excellent healers, and when your secondary talent is Elemental (not as much DPS as enhancement, but respectable) you can essentially use the same gear to level as damage & healing and not feel that you are letting anyone down by doing so. Olaventa as a character had a serious crush on Thrall when he was warchief of the horde. She’s not forgiven him yet for leaving us with Garrosh as a leader. My scribes both wanted the Loremaster title, so they each completed every quest for their faction up to Mists of Pandaria. This toon has also completed all the quests for that Expansion, making her the most played, most experienced toon that I have.
Uroga –OrcHunter (Skinning, Leatherworking) Both my hunters I play just for fun. I collect pets with them, and not much else, although their professions are part of my overall scheme to explore different class/prof combinations.
Rakudaga – TrollDruid (Herbalism, Alchemy) I deleted the character I started with this name and created a new one of the same name (the name fit a Troll better anyway) for the new racial combination of Troll/Druid that was offered in Cataclysm. Druids are my second favorite class after shaman these days, and some of the best tanks in the game. Still, I don’t tank with them, I take the same minimalist tack with them as with other classes, combining balance and restoration which allows me to double up gear for leveling. I used to hate male Trolls in game until Mists of Pandaria and Vol’Jin. Now I’m starting to like them.
Rasmuerta – TrollDeathknight (Mining, Blacksmithing) I’ve had a problem motivating myself to play Deathknights after Wrath of the Lich King. I mean, what is their motivation, as characters? “OK, life (or death) goals achieved, now what?” Still, they remain one of my favorite classes, and the only class I’m comfortable tanking with.
Tanath – Blood ElfMage (Mining, Jewelcrafting) My only Blood Elf. I just couldn’t get into the story behind the Blood Elves. They remain my least favorite race in the game, weirdly. They are amongst the most frequently played by other players. Mage is one of my favorite classes, but this mage doesn’t get played very often. Just enough to get her to level 90.
Creavishop– UndeadWarlock (Tailoring, Enchanting) The third toon I ever made, and still my secondary raider for this server, because he is my enchanter and I’m always looking for materials for his work. Warlocks are liberating to play. Demon summoners and associated with evil in the lore for the game, they remain essential for any well-rounded raid group. Still making containers for all the toons on the server, and not getting enough gold for his work as far as he is concerned. His plans to take over the world are taking longer than he thought.
Eugennah – UndeadRogue (Mining, Engineering) Rogues, which were amongst my most looked-forward-to classes to play, have not turned out to be one of my favorite classes. Now that locks have been removed from regular game play (no more keyring) their essential role in-game has been left behind. Pick-pocketing isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be, with more and more NPC’s in game reporting back as having no pockets to pick. Bummer. Eugennah hates her bony elbows and knees, and doesn’t like Undercity at all. She took over Engineering from Uroga so I could see how that might assist a Rogue in play. Her survivability in encounters seems better than Eieloris, my other Rogue.
Raspallia – TaurenPaladin (Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting) This toon was created as an experiment testing out the benefits of combining creation professions and their extra-beneficial perks. I also discovered the joy of PvP healing as a Holy Paladin. There really isn’t a better class to play as healer in a PvP situation, and survivability for this paladin is much better than the other Paladin who combines Blacksmithing and Mining. Those perks are rumored to be disappearing in the next expansion pack.
Tharthurm – TaurenPriest (Tailoring, Alchemy) Tharthurm was the name of my first toon; but I really wanted my warriors for both factions to be small females, so the Tauren warrior was deleted, and I gave his name and look to the priest that I could make as a Tauren for the first time in Cataclysm. Tauren are my favorite race, in theory. In practice I don’t like the movements that Blizzard created for the models. I want to like and play them, here’s hoping the improved modeling in Warlords will make that more pleasant.
Rastarsha – GoblinWarrior (Mining, Engineering) The addition of Goblins as a playable race created a quandary and a opportunity for me. I could finally actually have a Goblin engineer and could have a warrior on the horde side that would echo the stature of my alliance warrior. But I had to delete my first toon to do it, and I had to decide on either female or male, since I couldn’t do both. Pigtails decided me, although you can’t see them on this toon. Goblins, like Gnomes, are amusing. That is why you play them.
Jainrasig – PandarenMonk (Skinning, Leatherworking) All my monks are Pandas, and all of them are named Jain. There was a Bodhisattva of a similar name, and what Firefly fan can resist naming a character Jayne? RAS is for me. I’ve looked forward to playing as a Panda since I first started playing World of Warcraft, having loved the heroic character that was available in WC3. They took long enough to give them too us. The Pandaren lore is some of best World of Warcraft, in my opinion. I’m going to miss playing Mists of Pandaria come November.
Muradin server was home for several years, even though I started out playing on Terenas. Because my family and friends were playing Alliance, my toons there were developed much faster than the Horde toons. We found a welcoming guild on the server named “of the Emerald Dream” and were happy there until one of the raid healers took exception to my allowing my daughter to play the game while she was still drugged from having her wisdom teeth out (of all the things to pick a fight over) so we left and created our own guild, which I still run (on several servers, just not very successfully) even though I’m almost the only player left in the guild, now. Frosty Wyrm Riders is max level (25) on Muradin, I just don’t raid with that guild.
Eieloris’ image looked better than Tarashal’s did.
Tarashal – Night ElfDruid (Herbalism, Alchemy) This is the toon I keep coming back to. I started out focused in Mists of Pandaria with my Horde toons, determined to level and raid first as Horde with my adopted guild there. Before the year was out I was no longer raiding with them although still in the guild, three different raid teams having formed and dissolved in the process. Raiding in Mists is far harder than any other expansion pack, and this has shown through in the rapid dissolution of formerly sound raiding teams that had lasted through Wrath and Cataclysm. Even the raiding guild that I was part of on this server lost several players we had relied on for years. Because I had started out with a different guild and faction, this toon did not make it into the raiding group which is most advanced in the content for this expansion. Still, he has the best gear of any of my toons, and has completed more of the content than any other toon except for Olaventa.
Eieloris – Night ElfRogue (Skinning, Leatherworking) With her fondness for Dwarves, which she deems “Just the right height”, Eieloris still has more ‘backstory’ than any of my other toons. That only matters to me in the end; still, I really do enjoy playing this toon and would play her more if I hadn’t discovered how much I like to PvP heal as a Paladin.
Rasputing – DraeneiPaladin (Mining, Blacksmithing) Also the name of my Monk character in Diablo III, the wife named this toon when I created it, the first in a long line of RAS characters. I really didn’t like Paladins at all until this expansion pack, and it was only when I took the Tauren Paladin into Battlegrounds that I discovered how much fun it was to PvP heal as one. By that point I had leveled this toon to 90, and he had a hard time getting the gear he needed to match her in PvP. Now that they are almost equal, I really can see a benefit in combining creation professions as I did with her. I’ll have to wait and see what Blizzard does with Professions in the next expansion. Draenei are, in my opinion, the only good thing introduced in Burning Crusade; I tend to skip that entire area of the game when I level characters (easily achieved by taking up archeology at level 60) but the Draenei move the way the Tauren should move.
Raslinda – DraeneiShaman (Mining, Jewelcrafting) I try to remind myself that the game is fantasy when presented with differences between the sexes like are present in the male and female Draenei. Split hooves vs. solid hooves? Looks more feminine, only represents a million years or so of evolution. She does look good moving, and the action animations for the female Draenei are some of my favorites.
Rasmortis – WorgenDeathknight (Jewelcrafting, Blacksmithing) Worgen represent the race I’m most ambivalent about. I like the animations, but I never understood why they had to be added to the Alliance, other than as a race to balance out adding Goblins to the Horde. Having said that, adding them gave me an excuse to change Mortis from human, so there went my only human character. I really do like the way he looks in his black PvP armor transmog. If I had more time, I’d play this class more often.
Hellice – WorgenWarlock (Tailoring, Alchemy) This is actually my second Worgen Warlock named Hellice. I leveled one to 85 for my son at the end of Cataclysm, and gave it to him as a present. I like the name, icy-damnation. Perfect for a warlock. This was the last toon to level to 90, because she had to start from one at the same time as my Pandas, and they were going to be leveled before she was. Warlocks are just fun. That’s all there is to it. Mind if I suck out your soul and use it as a weapon on you? Doesn’t matter, she’ll do it anyway. Worgen are damned to start with, that is the nature of their affliction. Why not warlock as well?
Juverna – DwarfHunter (Mining, Engineering) Named for Ireland; he, like my Horde hunter just collects pets. I know, I know, they are great DPS machines in this version of the game. I don’t care, hunters are solitary. That is why their best friends are animals.
Keslingra – DwarfPriest (Herbalism, Inscription) Just between you and me, this toon I specifically made to resemble the wife, giving her the red hair I know she really keeps hidden under the blonde; and I say that just because when she reads this she’ll be furious and there’s nothing I enjoy more than having her angry at me. This toon taught me the value of playing a priest, which I never expected to enjoy playing. Shadow Priest has finally turned into a DPS specification worthy of the designation, and priest healers are the strongest healers in the game. Since she is also a scribe, that means I completely every quest with her for the Loremaster title just as I did with Olaventa. Lots of experience playing this toon. She is the current guild master for Frosty Wyrm Riders.
Brenelbur – GnomeMage (Tailoring, Enchanting) This was my fifth toon created (after Tarashal) and I blame/credit him with starting me off on this crazy venture. He wanted to be a NElf and I resisted changing him to one after that race/class combo became available; but it was the frustration of not being able to make NElf mages that set me on the course of approaching the game the way I have. He is my secondary raider on Muradin (enchanting materials, yet again) and the character I play most often after the druid and shaman. Still love the Gnome laugh after all these years. Joke all you want about Gnome punting; after taking this mage into battlegrounds recently, I have to say that mages have a ridiculous ability to keep other players frozen almost indefinitely. Try punting me when you are frozen in place, you big green monster. I’ll just laugh and blink away.
Rasmillia – GnomeWarrior (Mining, Engineering) Watching making of documentaries for films that I’m a fan of, I hear comments like “it was my favorite scene, but it just didn’t make it to the cut” a lot. This toon started out as a male named for one of my favorite SF characters. But he needed to be a she, and she had to have a different name. I should have just duped the name Rastarsha, but I stole Starsha from a guildmate and I didn’t want to go flouncing around her server with her name tacked on to one of my toons; so millia for warrior (Milly for short) never mind that another guild mate now has a toon named Milly. I think she’ll understand. I really, really wanted her to have the pink pigtails. That was a must; that and dual wielding two-handed weapons. I admit it, I am easily amused.
Jainrasig – PandarenMonk (Skinning, Leatherworking)Yeah, same class/profession combination as my other Monk, breaking my changing pattern. I really hadn’t expected to have an eleventh class to have to deal with. When it came down to brass tacks, they both needed to make their own leveling gear, so they both ended up as skinning leatherworkers. The daily quest that is available to Monks makes leveling much faster. The Monk class itself is quite different from the other classes. I can’t say I know what I think of it yet; which is too bad, because it will be different soon. Classes always change with each expansion.
I will really miss Pandaria, even though I haven’t enjoyed raiding through it very much. Chen Stormstout was my go to hero for Warcraft III. If I could hire him in a map, he was on my team. His quests in the Valley of the Four Winds are essential for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the lore of Warcraft. Unfortunately they have taken out the additional quests relating to him that were part of intermediate expansion content; but that is why it is important to play through the game as it is offered, and not as it exists as preserved as part of future content. I do wonder how they will include Garrosh in quest lines that used to rely on him, since he will no longer be the warchief of the horde after this expansion. A good portion of those quests will have to be truncated, or they will simply be left alone to stick out like sore thumbs calling attention to content that should have been updated but was not.
It has been a fun five plus years playing the game so far. I have been invited to the beta for Warlords of Draenor and have done some minor fiddling with it so far. I really wanted to hit this milestone before allowing myself to be diverted, though. Quest completed. On to the next one.
Tarashal taking his ease in travel form on the Timeless Isle
The story about the GyroStim and the sports writer promoting it struck a chord with me. As a long time Meniere’s sufferer, I’ve seen a ton of these kind of devices promoted to me as a ‘cure’ for what ails me. The people who do this kind of thing, the “Chiropractic-Neurologist” in this story, are amongst the cruelest predators you will ever meet, because when you have a disease for which there is no cure, you will do almost anything, pay for almost anything, to make the suffering stop. They bank on the victims desperation, KNOWING that if they have money, they’ll buy the fakery, just to experience that moment of hope that things will get better.
It’s almost enough to make one wish that hell existed, just so these types of people will be punished for their trickery in a proper fashion. I know that the courts are no remedy for this, unfortunately. I offer a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Steve Novella for fighting the good fight on this subject.
I haven’t written about my disability for quite awhile now (although I started the blog with that subject) It’s been almost two years. I’d just as soon not discuss something that has negatively impacted pretty much every (waking or sleeping) moment of my life since it manifested itself. if I spent as much time discussing it as it’s presence in my life would seem to warrant, I wouldn’t talk about much else.
Added to the daily dizziness and tinnitus from Meniere’s, there is the Piriformis syndrome that makes any form of sitting an exercise in slow torture. Then there’s the constant mold allergies (thanks, Austin) which also acts as a trigger for the Meniere’s. I could go on, but I won’t.
I have been attempting to get an acknowledgment of this disability from the U.S. government for about two and a half years now. I haven’t mentioned that at all, because I didn’t want to have to explain myself to people who inevitably would strike an attitude; like this one displayed by a relative in response to my thrashing single payer health care systems in general, and Hillary Care in particular:
I guess what disturbs me most is that you say you are libertarian, but you are also trying to get the government to give you a free ride. This doesn’t make sense to me. Which way do you want it? No government involvement in personal business, or do you want the government to pay you for being ill? Can’t have it both ways.
Cats out of the bag now, I think it’s time to have this conversation.
…Starting with the accusation of wanting a free ride. What an interesting way of describing an agreement between two parties, where one party pays into a ‘fund’ for all of his working life, and the other party promises to compensate the first in the event of disability and old age. In case there is any confusion here, I’m the party of the first part, and the U.S. government is the party of the second part.
I have diligently paid all my taxes over the years, including the 17% social security tax (half paid by my employers) which supposedly funds an account with my name on it, to be paid out in the event of disability and/or old age. That account has been funded to an excess of $40,000, money paid in good faith, based on the promise to provide a safety net for me if I ever become disabled or reach retirement age.
I have been released from two jobs now because of ill health. Employers do not want my services any longer. I spend every day combating the symptoms of the various ills that plague me, and it doesn’t leave me with much in the way of productive time; and my lack of employment denies me access to health care insurance, the only way that most of the treatments (surgery) can be afforded (whether they actually work or not) I don’t know how else to define ‘disabled’.
So here I am. I am disabled and the government has taken more than $40,000 from me over the course of my working life, with the promise to compensate me. I’m asking them to fulfill a contract. I’m asking them to provide the vaunted safety net that all the Democrats talk about.
After more than two years of fighting over this issue, I’m still just as without a safety net as I was at the beginning, even though all the doctors I’ve been to see confirm that I am disabled. (or at least that I do indeed suffer from the ills described) Two applications, three appeals, extra medical costs, etc. What do I have to show for it so far? Ridicule from an administrative law judge (I’m convinced that he refused to feel compassion for another white guy who clearly just needs to get back to work. White guys can’t be disabled, you know) and from former friends and family; and not much else.
Who’s getting the free ride? Sounds like the government from this end. Their actions clearly show that they’d prefer I dropped dead on the job before age 70 (which is when they are required by law to start paying me. Not the oft referenced 65 that the current retirees qualify for. How much longer will those younger than me have to work? 75? 80? Perhaps until they drop dead as well) rather than pay me anything at all; much less concede to something that trained medical professionals have stated is fact.
This is the reality of any government program; and it is precisely what it will be like to have government provided health care, which is nothing more than a government sponsored welfare program in which everyone is required to participate. Single payer health care under the U.S. Government will function in a manner indistinguishable from the Social Security system. The thought of this should scare anyone.
Now, if you go back and read some of my posts on the subject of Social Security, I’m sure that it will become crystal clear just how much of my money is waiting for me to need it; that number is somewhere in the range of zero. But we aren’t talking about the reality of U.S. government fiscal policy here, we’re talking about government programs that exist (whether I want them to or not) funded with tax dollars extracted at gunpoint from my paycheck. Programs which the government and it’s supporters insist are fully funded, and aren’t in crisis. I’m asking them to put their money where their mouth is. Provide that ballyhooed safety net, show me the money.
I don’t want it both ways; I want it to be one way. Either government programs work, and I get paid for being disabled (which I am) or government programs don’t work, and we run like hell from proposals to expand the size and scope of government to incorporate more of the health care system. Either there’s something wrong with taking money from the government for any reason (old age, disability, HEALTH CARE, corporate welfare, etc) or there isn’t any reason to not take what’s offered to you; and since most of my detractors will gladly accept their retirement money if they live that long (much less agitate for Hillary Care) I don’t think they are the ones who get to cast the first stone.
I see myself as beholden to pursue the disability claim given as I am disabled, and the government insists that it’s programs are there to help me; even if I only prove the opposing point, that government programs don’t work. So far, they aren’t looking very helpful.
I did get approved for disability a few months after this was written. It took an additional year of fighting to get the back benefits that I was owed, an arcane process that should not be anywhere near as time consuming and heartless as it is. I’m still not certain, even ten years later, that they didn’t stiff my attorney. That is the nature of government guarantees. What is guaranteed is that you will have to fight for your benefits.
Having said that, and now getting the benefits I was owed, I have to admit that aside from the fact that the fight was stupid long and completely pointless, government programs do actually work. Having been forced to acknowledge the error in my ideology, it is time to revise the ideology. Consequently I’ve stopped calling myself a libertarian. I would also like to state that Hillary Care would have been a better system than the one that was put in place by the Democrats under President Obama.
Health is not a commodity. We need to stop treating it like it is one.
As usual. Another week has passed, and I still haven’t worked up a decent blog entry. Took a stab at one tonight, only to draw the conclusion that the thoughts I want to express are still half-baked.
“they’re always half-baked!”
I may not be the most prolific blogger on the planet, but I get there in the end argument wise. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
So, while I have 50 odd unfinished blog entries in the queue, at least I can say “I’ve got the Christmas decorations boxed and put up in record time, for this household.” No need to pretend the twinkle lights on the back porch are actually there for ambiance this summer…
Driving While Vertiginous. Which is something I try to avoid.
I hate talking about the Menieres, but it bears mentioning once again (for record keeping purposes, at least) because today I realized that I’m unable to make left turns in heavy traffic. The necessity to move the head back and forth to check both directions of traffic always sets up a momentary disorientation; requiring that I hesitate just long enough for my head to clear that I tend to loose my chance to turn. I’ve gotten used to making 4 rights where possible, just to avoid a left turn. I noticed today (I had to get out and deliver things for a friend) that I have certain places I can comfortably get to, and certain routes that I will take. But if it requires long periods on the freeway (most times even getting on the freeway) lane changes, or left turns in high traffic, I probably either won’t go or will get someone else to drive. It’s too dangerous, in my opinion.
As someone who once drove 8 hours a day, 5 days a week testing tires (in any weather) for a living, I find it quite weird to not be willing to get in the car and drive…
(minor vertigo, major headaches all this week. I blame the allergies)