Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Knocking Yo-wood...


I have started, stopped, erased, and re-started this post several times over. This is a subject that so many of my friends on Facebook feel so passionate about. I have been feeling the need to share about it on here, but haven’t known where I should start. Most would say, “start at the beginning”, but that was a completely different time in the scope of the game. Hmm…I think it best that I start in the ‘now’.
‘SAVE YOVILLE!’ It’s a cry for help, and a cry of defiance. For so many, Yoville isn’t just a game, but a community. Friendships forged in a virtual world between people from all corners of the globe. A player since 2008, I can speak of my own experiences with Yoville. I have forged some great friendships that have also found their way to the timelines of Facebook. I have enjoyed meeting others within the game, but I have also found an escapist outlet with Yoville. One of my greatest therapies over the last number of years has been in decorating my homes (and I have a lot of them). I also have enjoyed visiting player run yard sales where I have been able to meet new players, or bump into friends. I have not been as consistently religious as some in my time spent in-game. Life does have a way of intervening from time to time. I can safely say that I would definitely miss it if it were to close down.

The noise about the band of Yoville protestors has grown. If the game is going to go down, it’s not going to go down without a fight. So many of us have had growing frustrations with the games performance for months now. That frustration sits square in the offices of Zynga. D-Day is scheduled for March 31st, and that “D” stands for “destruction”. In many respects, Zynga has ignored Yoville. That is how it has felt. Performance issues with the game that have never been fixed. Customer service/tech help has been slow to being non-responsive. A huge feature of the game are the “Events”, and those have been off-line for months. The player yard sales I mentioned before are posted and accessed via “Events”. Talk about cutting off a huge lifeline. Apparently, hackers were able to waltz right in and rather than fix the issue, they pulled events all together. The player numbers have dropped considerably, and it has all been due to Zynga dropping the ball.

Personally, I have felt that something was about to happen. My theory is that Zynga’s apathy towards Yoville began when they went public. Yes, they are a business, and most businesses look at the bottom line. I think that once they opened themselves up to the world of the Stock Market, they focused on the money, and let everything fall to the side. It’s all about the shareholders, and not about the players of their games. (Yoville isn’t the only Zynga game with performance issues. "Farmville", a hugely popular game at one time, has already bitten the proverbial dust.) To quote Stephen Colbert, I’m about to give Zynga a “wag of the finger”…I think it’s pretty obvious that they have known for at least a few months that they were going to pull the plug on Yoville, it was just a matter of when. Meanwhile, players have been spending their real world money on the game. The least Zynga could’ve done is take down features like VIP memberships, which by comments I’ve seen from other players have been glitchy (players not getting all of the stuff they pay for). At just about every angle I look at this whole issue, Zynga is the cause of Yoville’s demise. Problems left unaddressed for so long have caused people to leave, so rather than fixing the problems they would rather just close things down. The sad thing is that many of the people I know that got fed up and quit playing would return if the laundry list of problems were fixed.

Then something amazing happened…

A “Big Viking” has heard the players distress call. The creators of Yoville (Zynga bought it from them), “Big Viking” games are coming to the aid of the Yovillians. They have approached Zynga about buying the game back to keep it going for the die-hard players. How cool is that? A dialogue has been started between the two companies, so…fingers crossed. The following video is an interview with the “Big Viking” head honcho…it covers the status of things at the time of this post.

Okay, I know what you might be thinking. Yoville is a “virtual” game. None of it is real. All of those Yocash items bought with real world money…players don’t really own that stuff. Online games aren’t forever. Yoville will have to close its gates sooner or later. That’s all very true. The only response I have is…it’s not time. If Yoville goes down for good it was killed by Zynga. It didn’t die of natural causes. There is still plenty of life left in this game. “Big Viking” could be just what the doctor ordered to get things sailing smoothly again, and get those players that abandoned ship to come back aboard for another ride.

I suppose we’ll hear what the outcome of all of this is sometime soon. March 31st isn’t that far off.

Knocking Yo-wood…

Thought I would share some of my favorite rooms...for posterity.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Howling Moon...

This past Wednesday, was the first Full Moon of the New Year, the Cancer Full Moon, and the Full Wolf Moon. Here on the marsh, the night sky was fairly overcast. Patchy with a cottony horizon line...and the clouds would continue to thicken with the growing darkness. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t get to see the moon at all. No pictures would be taken. The moon would go through its lunation unobserved. By me, anyway.

Feeling less than hopeful, I mounted my camera on its tripod and headed to the marshes edge. I at least wanted to go through the motions of capturing the glowing orb as it traveled up in the sky. Approaching one of the spots along the marsh that I frequent (I have photographed it many, many times at various times of the year) I looked out over distant Tybee Island. The clouds that had socked in the horizon line were pretty thick, but I could see the glow of Luna making her presence known from the other side. The first of several jagged holes in the curtain would present themselves as they swirled by, so I was able to capture some of her edges. I snapped a progression of shots, the holes getting a little bigger as each one drifted past her face. Except for a grey-orange glow, the cloud cover would eventually block her form completely from view. I took that as my cue to head back home to warm my bones.

Later, I stepped out on the front porch to see if things would be any different with the clouds above the condos. There Luna was. I could make out her round shape a bit more, but there was still enough cloud cover to make her hazy. The moody Cancer Full Moon of January, 2014. I got to see her after all.
This Moon is also known as the Full Wolf Moon. Two things that have always been closely associated with one another…the Moon, and wolves. Because they have a nocturnal nature, the wolf has always been associated with night/darkness. Howling messages to others, or barking warnings of intruders, they have been thought to howl at the Moon itself. Even tales about werewolves are closely associated to the rising of the Full Moon. Historically, the relationship can mostly be blamed on the ancients.

Ancient civilization frequently depicted wolves with the Moon in writings and images.

In the Norse mythos can be found stories of the wolves Skoll, and Hati, who chase the Sun and Moon across the sky. Hati Hroovitnisson (“He who hates, enemy”) is said to chase the Moon across the night sky. He is also known as the Moon-Hound, or Managarmr. His partner, Skoll (“Treachery”), is said to chase the chariot that carries the Sun across the sky.

Greek Goddess, Hecate, is Goddess of the Moon. Not only is she depicted in the company of dogs, she is also shown in the form of a dog. It is also said that the howling of dogs precedes her arrival.

The pairing of the Moon and dogs can also be seen with the Roman Goddess of the hunt and the Moon, Diana. She is associated with woodlands, and the animals that reside within.

One Full Moon down for 2014 (as fuzzy as it was), and eleven more to go. I look forward to them all.

(If you are wondering what sort of flower that is on this post, it is a Moon Flower.)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Full Moon In Cancer...January 15, 2014...

("Cancer", by: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law)
2014. A new year has begun, and January’s Full Moon (the first of the year) is almost here. Reaching its peak at 11:56 PM, EST, on January 15th, is the Full Moon in Cancer.

A water sign, Cancer the crab heightens the realm of the emotional. This will be a time of reflecting back on your past. Memories centered on your childhood, or surrounding a family member…this Moon is ripe for getting us in touch with emotional issues, some long forgotten. Getting together with the luminaries (the Moon, and the Sun) via a trine to the Cancer Moon, and sextile the Capricorn Sun, is Saturn in Scorpio. Over the next number of days exercise patience, and keep a listening ear at the ready. Saturn will be ready to help you solve some of the messier issues with family, and those issues could come at you from all sides. The guiding energies of Saturn can help in moving forward on hot button issues, and in focusing on your responsibilities.
The Sun and the Moon are in opposition during the Full Moon. In this case the Moon in Cancer, in opposition to the Sun in Capricorn (water and earth elements, respectively). This opposition presents an opportunity. Unbalanced areas of your life can be restored to a harmonious state (i.e. professional and personal). The opposition between the luminaries can cast light on aspects of your life that need attention. This being the first Full Moon of the year, it can act as a catalyst for change in your life. Be aware that an individual’s points of sensitivity can be revealed (defensive, confrontational, passive-aggressive, etc.). Things can turn on a dime, so be prepared. Be aware. Don’t brush things off, and be conscious of the other person. When addressing issues take the gentler path.
Aquarian Mercury sextile Uranus in Aries can be advantages to both air and fire signs. Aquarius is strong here and promotes stepping outside of the box, out of one’s comfort zone, to extend beyond to a unique place/perspective.

(Artist: David Palladini)
Libran Mars is at the apex of a cardinal T-square, with Venus in Capricorn opposite a base of Jupiter in Cancer. Now for the love report. *grin* Actually there is quite a bit of turbulence possible. The potential for some major drama. The more traditional vibe of a Cancer-Capricorn axis could clash with Libra’s sense of fair play within relationships. There is the possibility of a knock down-drag out, followed by a severing of ties…at least for a bit. Don’t let your emotions rule your decision making, and avoid assuming anything based on the emotional. Take a step back, take a moment to chill out, and then approach things from a more rational perspective. Saturn in Scorpio in a harmonious sextile to Venus will help things from completely blowing up. Just keep this in mind…this is not a good time for tantrums.

Family dynamics can be very telling in seeking closure to past, long standing issues. They can reveal just how big or small they are. This lunation presents a great time for spending time with family, and close friends. Think about your place within the grand scheme. Take some time to focus on the interpersonal.
If there are some terms/words in the above that you don't know the meaning of, the following is a link to a great online Astrology Dictionary:

The following excerpt is from the Framer's Almanac:

  • Full Wolf Moon - January: Amid the cold and deep snows of winter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January's Full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied the name to the next Moon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014...A New Year...(how is that possible)...

2014 is here. Barely. How is it even possible? 2013 was just too fleeting for its own good. I should have accomplished more. Really. My first instinct is to place the blame on my job. It did act as a time siphon, but some things can only suck that much of the wind from ones productive sails if one allows it. My job is one of those things. An easy scapegoat for my lackluster list of accomplishments. *sigh* Oh well…onwards and upwards…yes?

As is evident, my New Year’s post is a tad late. Not intentionally, but better a few days late than never. 2013’s big finale was very low-key and mellow here on the marsh. I did have to work a few hours on the Eve, but got home before the day had completed its exit. Still caught ample time to go out for a stroll, and some picture taking. 

The grey matte tones of an overcast sky shrouded the “preevening” (to quote Dr. Sheldon Cooper). Chilled breezes blew through the sparse sprays of dying leaves on naked branches. I have grown to love the more bucolic nature that surrounds me now, as opposed to the noisy smog covered city I once inhabited. I’m usually one to let the flora and fauna be the bulk of my strolls soundtrack, but on New Year’s Eve I decided to put on my headphones, and listen to one of my favorite CDs. It fit that darkening and muted half of the day so well. It made me see my outside world in a different way. It also had me remembering a time from my past.

It was 1982 (or early 1983), and I was attending college. An anomaly on campus, I dressed outside of what was considered the norm by many in the small southern Georgia town of Statesboro. Mod, Punk…my look was an amalgamation of clothing eras. In other words I was a bit of an “individual”. It really wasn’t any wonder that I gravitated to the college radio station, which turned out to be where all of the ‘individualists’ collected.  In those days, it was known as the “progressive alternative”. No set musical style/era, we had no set format to confine us. My musical preferences have always been rather eclectic, so I fit right in. I already had an interest in many of the bands I played on the air when I began, but discovered a wealth of new bands via the record library. We also received new albums on a regular basis, and they would eventually find their way into the ‘New Box’ in the DJ booth. That’s where I found the album I popped into my CD player on New Year’s Eve, 2013.

“Script of the Bridge” is the first album by The Chameleons UK, an English band that became a favorite of mine from the first moment I placed “Script” on a turntable. Moody, ethereal, and lyrically inspired, every song from beginning to end struck a chord with me. Since it was the days of the ‘Walkman’, I made a cassette copy of the album that wore out in no time due to repeated play. I’ve always been a night owl, so night time strolls were something I enjoyed. One of my favorite things to do was to sit on a picnic table by the pond in front of the campus library, “Script of the Bridge” playing through my headphones. It was so escapist and lovely. So mentally and emotionally transportive. It was memories of the picnic table, the pond, and the incredible times I had in those days that came to me as I walked along snapping pictures.

The music also made me think of the day and what was about to happen. A year that had passed too quickly was giving way to a new one. A fresh year filled with blank pages ready to be written on. What would I write this time? Many people start there yearlong manuscript by compiling a ‘To Do’ list of resolutions, of which many will be nothing more than empty promises. I was once a resolution maker, but no more. For me, throwing out even one translates to a commitment…a source of pressure. I don’t believe in the premise of resolutions. If I’m going to make the effort to change something, to evolve, then I put forth the effort to make that change for me. For my life going forward. 

As I continued on my walk, a particular track started to play. One that I remembered was a favorite of a fellow college DJ of mine, Chuck. A popular track among Chameleons fans, the song is titled “Second Skin”. Although the lyrics have their own meaning to the bands lyricist, Mark Burgess (whom I'm glad to call friend), they spoke to me on the front edge of this New Year. It’s time to slough off and discard the old, so the new can be faced afresh. Nothing is certain. Dreams open up to the realm of possibility. Open up and spread your wings because everything and anything is possible. As it is often said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery”. Live in the moment, expect nothing, and welcome everything. Others may not glean the same things I do from the song, but interpretation is up to the individual at any given moment, in any given circumstance.

2013 is now history.

2014 unfolds before us…shrouded in mystery…

Here’s to the adventure…

(To listen to the video, scroll to the bottom of the page to pause the music player.)