I turned 42 last month. This didn't come with the Answer, but I'm not asking many big questions these days. I'm happy with my life. Sure, I've got complaints and worries but overall this is where I want to be--married to a wonderful woman with great kids. That's what matters. The rest is minor.
The minor stuff can still be fun. I've sold three more RPG articles to JTAS. They're write-ups of the scenarios I've been running at conventions, converted from Firefly to Traveller (GT:IW). They haven't impressed the readership--average or below ratings and no comments. This is a big contrast to my first article, "Terran Consuls," which was being praised months later as a reason to subscribe to the webzine. I'm a bit amused by the contrast. The consuls piece was a minor bit of worldbuilding (worldshimming?) and I hadn't playtested it, nor has anyone ever used it in a game as far as I know. Meanwhile the characters and scenarios have worked quite well and entertained dozens of people.
At this point I'm just happy to get the material published. I'd originally written them intending to sell it as a mini-campaign supplement. This went through a few different forms. Now I'm breaking it up as separate articles. celticdragonfly nicknamed the project the "monkey." I'm glad I'm finally getting it off my back.
A more successful project was making a train table for Jamie. We've had wooden train track playsets around for years. Having a box full of various track segments is fun for anyone who wants to build lots of different layouts, but they haven't been used that much. Our kids don't want to design a transit system, they want to run the trains around. So they're always thrilled when they find a play area with a glued-down train set for them to play with. Building some loops and having them come apart as the trains go by isn't as much fun.
We had an old coffee table that wasn't being used much. I painted it green with some help from Jamie (he didn't ask why--he just had fun brushing it on). Then I took our pile of track, some special pieces from maggieallen, and some connectors I picked up at a local toy store, and started coming up with a layout that fit on the table and be fun to play with. Turns out we had almost enough curved track to recreate the Olympic logo but it wouldn't fit. The fourth design worked. Used all the space on the table, had the turntable in the center to focus attention, and provided another five junctions where the trains could switch directions. Had to take a hacksaw to one piece, and there's a couple of loose ends the trains can run off of, but it works. Had it done with just enough time for the glue to dry before Christmas morning. I finished off two rolls of wrapping paper covering it up.
We made it the last present, hiding it in the garage until the kids were done with their others. Then fordprfct and I carried it in and we turned Jamie loose on it. Very, very happy boy. Only problem was getting his big sister to back off and not take over the game.
One thing that's improved my quality of life in the past year is a CPAP machine. I got it just over a year ago as a sleep apnea treatment. When I sleep I put on a mask that blows pressurized air into my nose and mouth. That way any time the pipe would be too blocked to inhale the extra pressure lets me take a breath. So I'm not having little suffocation episodes in the middle of the night and can get a solid night's sleep.
Now I'm a lot less likely to fall asleep in the middle of a meeting or a party. There's also less snoring. That's what we were hoping for. What I wasn't expecting was that I'm more awake overall. I used to need a jolt of caffeine every morning to get me going, and picked a commuting route that required minimal decisions. Now I have almost no caffeine in me at all (I'm drinking fruit juice instead of Coke) and switched to a shorter commute.
I've been having a blast playing the new World of Warcraft expansion. They made a beautiful play area, have good stories, and gave us interesting things to do. Okay, you're still killing assorted baddies by the score, but there's more variety mixed in with that. I'm been through almost all the content at this point. Did the various Northrend quests, tanked my way through all of Naxxramas, tanked Sartharion with one drake up, and got to phase three of the Malygos fight. I've got a very well-geared warrior, mostly because the RNG seems to love him. It's not that I win with great rolls, it's that the gear I could use drops when there's nobody else around wanting it. At this point I've gotten all the raiding I want. I'd like to keep going with one group to keep my skills and connections up but I don't want to do four nights a week.
I've seen complaints about Naxx being too easy for the end game, especially compared to Karazhan. I don't think it's the instance that's been made too easy. It's the power level of the PCs relative to the monsters they're facing that's changed. If we had to go to Naxxramas carefully marking and crowd-controlling every pull it'd take a lot longer to get through it.
What's changed is the boost in the power level for tanks. I love it as a tank--I get to blast whole groups and zip around in a fight if I need to grab something. It's a huge difference from how I tanked before the expansion. If I'd gone into Kara the first time grabbing and holding groups we'd've rolled through. I don't think the Naxx boss fights are easier than the Kara ones, they're mostly harder in terms of the player skill you need to hold things together, but they're easier and faster to get to, so you have more time and energy to deal with them.
I think that power boost is what created the current tank glut. It's more fun to play a tank now, certainly for warriors and paladins. Druids haven't gotten as big a boost but they're still more powerful than they were pre-expansion from what I've seen. So anyone who'd ever played a tank is spending time on that toon enjoying the power. It's also easier for a tank to do solo or pvp fighting than it used to be. So we're not losing tanks to burnout, we're getting back some who'd switched to other roles, and there's less work required to get your tank the money/mats/rep you need to raid. So now I'll sign up for a raid and notice half of the first eight signing up are tanks, and my favorite tank blogger posts "You should take some time off and let someone else have a turn tanking."
Hopefully Blizzard will figure how to make healing that much fun in the next expansion, or sooner.