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in-san-ity reloaded

Insanity – i already posted what wikipedia says about this, when i liked it to SAN. But today, i actually want to talk about the other insanity. Or… well. some of it.
I could have written this post yesterday, and use it as my “whiney day post”. But truth to be told, i am too serious about this to hide it among a number of themed posts.

Also, this is not really a WoW post. So i can understand if you decide not to read on.

Insanity is something which seems to have crept into my life from all sides.
On the one hand, there is work. When i accepted to work in the particular field i now work in, i had an assistant, a technician, a programmer and two application engineers to tackle the projects our sales guy would drag in with. But there were fewer projects than expected, and with the economic downturn, some cuts were inevitable. But hey – slimming things down to .. well.. me. That is just insane. Especially now that we do seem to have a few projects which pay well. Just – how should one person handle these projects at the same time, especially when the customer(s) have certain justified demands ? One of the words to describe this is “insane”. And of course, the company does expect me to ‘manage’. And they cannot for the life of them imagine that i might be unhappy about this ?

But that is just one facet. There are others.

Like my cough. It is still there, after 4 weeks now. And no amount of antibiotics or other pills seem to be able to get rid of it. Granted, working like a slave and the current weather do their part towards its survival, but hey, i want it gone. There really is no reason why i should house an icky cough which just does not want to go away.

But that too is not all of it. What baffles me even more is how far people will go out of spite. It is truly insane. Lets assume there is a raid group. And one day, the raid is scheduled so that one of the group cannot go, but the others can – basically on the day when most can come, just this one member of the group is busy. Why, if not from spite, would this person now say “well, since you want to have fun without me, feel free to put the raid where you want to.. i wont come along anymore?” It is silly, if you ask me. But looking back, the number of times i have seen this happen so far (or something alike) is just mind boggling. Why should the rest of the group act on this, and how ? I mean, the one no longer coming along is limiting his own fun – in an insane attempt to “punish” the rest by no staying away. Quite honestly, the most effect that has is on the person who actually stays behind. And, perhaps, on the organizer of said raid.

Has this happened to me ? Perhaps.. perhaps not. For now, it is merely a good example of the kind of insanity i am writing of.

I just wonder what to do about it. How to combat it. So far, i have not found a good way to do it. So all i can do for now is sit back and watch the insanity unfold.

I guess insanity is the one word which describes a major part of what i am trying to deal with just now. Just – it is no fun.




Looking at Wikipedia, i found this definition

Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns.

There is, however, a different meaning, which can be constructed from the letters. At this, it would define situation of being in SAN‘ ness. And with that, i am afflicted as well.
Most likely it is for the best, after all i am partially to blame for the whole thing – being one of those who always said that an all blogger guild is something good, not something to fear. But, as with so many things, it could even argue that being in SAN also exposes people to a good kind of insanity – at least if you base it on the definition that ‘sane‘ means ‘behave within the current norm‘, which would have insane be ‘behave outside the norm‘. From what i have seen of the guild, i would say SAN is what a guild should be like, but the average guild i know of is a lot less lively and friendly.

Aside that, i have taken a few steps into low level healing. And that is quite a challenge from healing with an ICC geared Paladin. With a mana pool which can be emptied within a few seconds of throwing the biggest possible heals around the group, and a whopping one or two spells to choose from, things are, to say the least interesting.

Doing the low level instances with a guild group, and one of the fitting level is another very welcome change from the time when we duo-leveled through the start. It makes these trips fun, and i can only recommend this to people who have not done this, or did these instances ages ago.
And as with so many things, fun can also come with limitation. And sometimes, limitations will actually teach people to do their tasks more efficiently, and in the end – better.


shattering china

Hello everyone.

This post is somewhat special. Why ? Because i once promised myself i would not carry things out here, but instead try to resolve things with the people involved in private, and thus spare myself, and them, the public dissection of things done, said, not done and not said.

But in this case, the incident™ carries implications which range further than i can currently foresee, and discussing them in private is something which for various reasons does not seem to work. So, instead of just mulling it over in my brain, i decided to put it out here for everyone to read. (Everyone who cares to, that is).

So, everyone who does not care for this sort of blog post, feel free to go here, here or here for some less troublesome and more WoW related content.

There – that is out of the way. There is one more little disclaimer, which i need in order to protect the little sanity i have left (or perhaps not that little). In the remainder of the post, i will refrain from naming people. I will refrain from describing the incident™ in any more detail than needed. Because, in the end the incident itself does not matter. What matters is how people dealt with it, and what the end result was. (And no, i am far from happy with the result)

Right – now that that is out of the way, let me lay out the facts.

  • SomethingBad™ happened.
  • RandomBloogerOne™ decided to blog about it.
  • Some people involved in SomethingBad™ read it. Some commented, some did not. (actually, most did not)
  • RandomBloogerOne™ decided to blog about it some  more.
  • Some more people involved noticed it, together with APossiblyGuiltyParty™, who was rather irritated at the posts, and at what they said about them.
  • There is some discussion about the incident™ in the guild forums. And it is more a discussion than a flame war, because despite what many people may assume (considering we are talking about an online game here), most of the people involved were actually rather mature and sensible human beings. (disclaimer – perhaps some are not, but in that case, they all did very well at trying to appear sensible)
  • Things seem to have resolved themselves. At least as far as the incident™ is concerned. What is left is to see what is needed to repair whatever was broken during the discussion. Fortunately, the number of inexcusable outbursts and the amount of foolish name-calling was kept to a minimum, so for people viewing this from the outside (me), things seem mendable.

So far, so good. Now enter stage 2.

  • RandomBloogerOne™ decides that something like this should not be, and should not happen. They in turn follow that decision up with leaving the people involved.
  • The Rest™ is standing around, wondering what the hell is going on. Some say friendly good-bye’s, some ask RandomBloogerOne™ to get back, as things are resolved, and some simply stare at all the shattered things on the ground, wondering.
  • A bit later, an explanation appears as to some of the reasoning behind the decision. It also exposes just how far RandomBloogerOne™ has taken it, and how difficult taking those steps has been.
  • Again, many read the explanation. Again, few comment. And no, i did not comment myself. Instead, i sat down pondering what to do, and what you now read is the result.

And that is where things lie now. Considering that i am writing this post, it should be obvious that i am anything but happy with the situation. But the reasoning may not be. And in the end, this post has very little to do with any attempt to change anyones mind – i know i do not have the words (or whatever else is needed) to do that. It has to do with a few basic assumptions which lie underneath the decision, and which i consider dangerously flawed.

Dangerously flawed, because they make a decision seem sensible which really does not at all address the core issue behind the problem, and which in the end causes a lot more unhappiness than several other options.

But i get ahead of myself.

If i understand the reasoning correctly, one basic assumption is that

  • If you blog, you step on peoples toes (sooner or later you will). And if you blog with a certain tone, and in a certain way, you step on more peoples toes.

I would say that this assumption is true. And anyone blogging should be aware of that. It is all but impossible to write good blog posts without being at least a little judgemental in what you write. And that always carries the risk of stepping on peoples toes.

There is another assumption related to that.

  • If you blog about people around you, those people may not like it. Their friends may not like it, and thus may not like you since you wrote those ugly blog posts.

This, also, is a rather sensible assumption. It means that people will judge you based on your blog posts. And sometimes, you may not like how they read your posts, and have to deal with the echo which comes from that.

Now, based on those two assumptions, it would seem reasonable to say

  • Anonymity is your friend. If none know who you are, then there is little risk of stepping on people’s toes, or writing ugly blog posts which can be traced back to you.

At first glance, this indeed does seem reasonable. At second glance, this unfortunately reminds (at least me) of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckward Theory

Before anyone jumps onto this – no, I do NOT think that the idea behind the decision is to be allowed to become a “total fuckward”.  Still, what is the anonymity needed for, if not for the saying (or writing) something which you perhaps would not write if you were not anonymous ?

So, how about another deduction from the assumptions above ?

  • Being a blogger who is also part of a group requires that all posts are checked against who from that group will be offended. The result of this check can (but does not have to) require modification of a post

This also seems to make sense. And it is actually part of my own blogging routine. I try to blog in a way that does not needlessly step on peoples toes. The keyword there, though, is needlessly. I am sure i have stepped on several toes already, and most likely will again.

Actually, this post had a hard time getting past the deduction above. But in the end, i decided that the need to write the post outweighed the risk of antagonizing people with it. And i decided that i rather deal with angry comments than keep all this bottled up. But back to the actual post.

Looking through blog posts, and blog post comments, there is a huge number of fanboy/fangirl posts, which contain sentences like “i would love to be part of that” or “wouldnt an all blogger guild be fun” and the like. This is not limited to specific blogs, or specific persons. No, most reputable blogs had a number of like comments from a number of readers. So, based on that, i would conclude that

  • Blog readers like (or think they do) to know who is doing the blogging, and are willing to go through some length to actually become “available” to a blogger.

Oddly enough, this contradicts the deduction of anonymity above. Also, again reading through various blogs – it seems that the more successful ones are ones where people can relate to the person blogging. It would be the absolute opposite of anonymity. (Ok, Snottydin may be seen as a counterpoint to this theory, but in this case, i claim that snottidyn is more satire than blog, and hence the rules do not fully apply)

Also, many blogs have a number of followers who read it simply because they can relate to the stories, and know what is written about, not just for the witty comments and funny jokes.

And there is where, in my eyes, the dangers lie, and why i consider the reasoning dangerously flawed.

Yes, it is difficult to be a blogger and be part of a group. Yes, it does require quite a lot of care to not accidentally damage the group with a badly written blog post. And even with the good posts, there is a certain risk for group drama to occur once the posts are made. But in most cases, this drama can easily averted without resorting to censorship on the blog posts. Sometimes, all it requires is to first speak with people, and then write a post.

Yes, it may lead to a few posts not being written, or rather, being written in a different manner. And it may lead to a few dryer posts, because many people just love to read about drama, as long as they are not personally involved. And it may lead to a different way of dealing with problems. But all that does not make for less good a blogger, or less good a person. I would even go as far as to say it leads to the opposite.

I apologize if this sounds spiteful, but to me, moving into anonymity is like running away. Yes, it will help in the short run, but in the long run, you still need to face whatever you ran from, or you will run into its relatives again. Alternatively, charting a course which allows you to stay clear of any like situations will ultimately force you to limit yourself, and in turn take more from you than what it would have cost to stay and try to mend the situation.

So.. what is the bottom line ?

Being a blogger means that sometimes you shatter things. Shattering illusions seems like fun. Shattering china seems like a waste. Both will happen. Being a blogger means that you have the responsibility of dealing with that. And dealing with it is definately not always easy. But dealing with it by running away, leaving others to stare at the spot you just vacated, wondering what he hell just happened is

  1. taking the easy way out.
  2. unfair.
  3. just plain wrong.


As some may know, i am part of a group my guild (somewhat lovingly, at least in a few cases) calls Tardraid.

It consists of a number of people who have expressed interest in running older raid content. At the moment, we are focussing on Ulduar, slowly clawing our way towards the former ultimate evil at the bottom of the fortress (Yogg Saron, of course)

But this week’s run was special. It provided us with a few firsts, for Tardraid, at least.

– we did not have to try and scrounge people up to fill the raid. This was a first, and i am very glad that we did reach this point. It proves that there is fun to be had with going to older content, and that i am not alone in thinking so.

– We had a fast run up to Mimiron (Yes, Mimiron, not Mimirom, as i had accidently posted on the guild forum), with few wipes and a whole lot of fun.

– We Managed to kill Freya with one of the Elders still up.

– And, perhaps most importantly, we managed to achieve this

I feel no small amount of pleasure for having finally done this. Doing it during the ‘Love is in the Air’ event is just another small thing. But the real kicker is having done this with our little Tardraid.

Considering we attempted to do it with several people in the raid who had just started raiding with us, and without much preparation along the lines of explanation or so, things went very well. Not that it is a tribute to my raid leading skills – far from that. It is a tribute to the entire raid – everyone who was there. Thinking back to when we actually visited Ulduar during the usual guild runs, and the respect we had towards these hard modes..

It seems rather clear that we have come a long way. So.. Congratulations to Tardraid. Yes, we will hit more Tardmodes as we take our tours of Ulduar. Perhaps (you guys willing) we will hit them all.



The power of Vuh’do

We have been at it again. Racing through Icecrown Citadel – 10 men (or well.. 10 strange people) on a mission. And as it is by now expected – from most, that is – we sort of waltzed through past the poor Saurfang who carried the body of his boy off.

Yes, there were no wipes, and few deaths on the way there. I still consider that an achievement, considering that we raid in more or less constantly changing group setups. But ok, everyone sort of knew what to do.

On we went, past Precious and Stinky, and into Festerguts little domain. And there, our oh so successful group was gutted.. repeatedly.

Yes, we had several wipes. Let us just assume that the first few (one or two) were actually caused by The Group™ needing the time to adjust to each other. I mean, it is quite a step up in difficulty from good old Saurfang (see how he is now good old, while only 3 weeks ago he was the bastard who randomly killed everyone ?) to Putricides twins. Right.. twins.. i am not even sure they are, but they sure look and sound like it.

But, that adjustment done, we still did not manage to get things done. At some point during the fight, usually when the damage output was high, one of the tanks would suddenly keel over, with me (the tank healer, as you may have guessed) staring at the screen, wondering who the hell ate all those nice heals i threw out.

Looking through the death log (a recently discovered function in Scada), i realized that the tank in question had not been hit with that many heals at the time. And that had me puzzled. I could not, for the life of me, understand where that long gap in healing had come from. I had been constantly tossing out heals.

Now, i have to mention that in order to survive the fight, i usually do not just spam Holy Light, but use a mix of Holy Light, Flash of Light and Holy Shock. This seems a lot more mana efficient while not really being that big a risk. Or so i thought before that fight. So, paging through the deathlog, i would notice gaps i could not quite explain. It was as if someone (or something) had eaten one of my healing spells before the tank got it.

Yes, i did look around at my companions. None of them seemed to have any inclination of staying longer than necessary staring at Festergut, and inhaling his definately foul-smelling gas. So it seemed very unlikely that they would do such a thing. I mean, everyone knew that once one of the tanks keeled over, the enrage timer would shorten significantly, as the other tank would take out the melee team once sufficiently prepared by Festergut.

And yes, Festergut himself somehow did not seem capable of such a feat – stealing a healers spell – come on. That cannot be true.

And suddenly it hit me. The spell had not been eaten, really. It had been redirected. And while Festergut was definately having his own part in this, the person to blame was really me, not him. After all, it was me who allowed him to do so, by the power of Vuh’do.

Again, i have to ask for a bit of indulgence while i explain this to those who are not familiar with it. Vuh’do gives me a very nice 6-mole window for my whack-a-mole game. (right, sometimes it is a 9 mole window, but lets not go there now). The 6 moles are, left to right.. the first tank. The first tank’s target. The first tank’s target’s target. And then the same for the second tank. And since my heals should always hit the tank which Festergut tries to smash through the floor into the rooms below, it seemed sensible to let him tell me whom to heal.

So, effectively, i had reduced my whack-a-mole to a one mole game. Just keep healing Festerguts target, and you are fine, i thought. Well.. that is WRONG. Now, don’t get me wrong, this has worked out rather well on a number of encounters, which is why i did not challenge the method until very late. But it is a fact that Festergut will turn to cast bad things at other people too. And since there is a significant delay between me summoning that nice, soothing holy light, and the light actually hitting my target, he has enough time to turn back and deliver yet another crashing blow to the poor tank well before the light reaches him. (talk about the speed of light.. not that fast now)

So, it seems that was exactly what happened. In healing his target, i accidently healed a random raid member, who undoubtedly also enjoyed being basked in this wonderful light. Still, in the end they hardly needed it as much as the poor tank did.

And ‘lo and behold – once i turned back and healed my two charges separately, always sending the light exactly where i wanted to, and not where Festergut tried to redirect me to, things went a lot more smoothly, and we finally had the long-expected victory.

Not by the power of Vuh’do – sometimes that power can tempt us to do foolish things.

What is the bottom line of this – There is a lot of power in Vuh’do. Or in any other addon which does the same. But with all that power comes the responsibility to think about what you use how and when. Sometimes, the true power lies in ignoring the special things they can do to you, and go back to the basics.



I was raiding again. And healing. And it was ok. Sort of.

A guild run through Icecrown Citadel. 9 fellows from my guild and i ran in, and some came out with shinies. So it should be a success. Why am i not feeling successful then ?

Actually, there are a few reasons for it. One was the end. We tried to take down Festergut, but he actually managed to gut our tanks with an amazing consistency. And no amount of healing could actually fix that. Of course, i was trying my best, but this time, my best was not quite enough. Not that it was just me. Overall, i have to say that the performance of the raid was ‘not quite good enough’. Not that there was anyone especially indecent. But it just was not enough. In the end, the reappearing inhabitants of the citadel and the late hour put an end to our attempts to survive being in the same room as Festergut.

But that was just one thing. For some reason, the whole trip was more a descent into some dark place. Or at least that was how it seemed.  The whole thing did not really start well either. A late cancellation and someone just failing to show up had us waiting inside the citadel for some time, while our RaidLeader™ tried his best to fix things. Several options were thrown around and i spent most of the time sitting back, idly commenting on things to one of my friends.

Once we were off, things improved. Lord Marrowgar fell apart with little effort, and Lady Deathwhisper was quick to follow, after a few close calls with her followers. Still, i felt rather dissatisfied with our performance there. Too many deaths to really claim to have won the fight smoothly, but the sheer power of the raid got it done in the end. So it was no surprise that the gunship battle went the same way, and soon enough we were standing up on the top, listening to Saurfang the older and Saurfang the younger hold their respective monologues.

On that note – why didn’t Blizzard introduce some method of checking that everyone present had already done this successfully – allowing for a slightly faster start ? Yes, it is a moving story, and i personally like finding such story arcs, but after the 20th time, it does sort of get.. well.. boring ?

But back to the raid. Once more, we managed to defeat the evil marks he threw out – despite him picking both healers for marks this time – and were allowed to pass through the door roughly 90 minutes after we had kicked Marrowgar in the non-existant shin. Overall, not a bad pace.

So.. things seemed to have gone well. But still i was out of it, and it did not really feel fun.

We ran through the fumes (with the almost obligatory comical death, this time provided by our Priest with the burning hoodie.  From there on, things went smooth until after Precious was put down. We did need to take a break, and this little healer went off to get something to drink, only to return to the high pitch blip which signals ‘low health’.

Apparently someone decided we might as well play with Stinky too, and this time, it was the dog who had the long end of the stick. Proves that even a grumpy healer is better than no healer. Or something like that.

Oddly enough, there was rather little joking about that – something which i consider unusual. Or perhaps it is just me being overly sensitive about that just now. Then came the usual 10 minute break after 2 hours raiding. It is a tradition in our Raids, and one which i very much appreciate – it gives people to do those things which would cause extended afk’s at inopportune moments else. And we joked how there was no such thing as a 5 minute break, neither in school, nor in college or university – people would always check the clock, see “oh, i was to go back 3 minutes ago, i’ll better finish my coffee and get going”. We pretty much agreed on that, so it was little surprise when the first ready check (the one to see who was back after the break, usually done one or two minutes after everyone was supposed to be back) yielded a few people being afk. But honestly, folks, what is the deal with going out of the instance, taking a port / ship / whatever to visit Ogrimmar, and then ask the raid to walk out to the stone to summon you back ?

I was honestly wondering what was going on. I mean, it was a 10 minute break. If you just take a hearth stone to Dalaran, race towards the Orgrimmar portal, click through it, and then head back to the airship to return to Northrend, you will not be back in Icecrown citadel before the 10 minutes are up. NOT Decent. Definately not. Having 9 people wait because you just HAD to check something on the AuctionHouse mid raid is a no-go.

From then on, things went down hill. We took several shots at Festergut, but it was always our tanks who ended up gutted, not the abomination. I could try to analyze what caused that, but that would really be beside the point. I would rather look at my mood during the raid. Obviously, the wiping did not really improve it. But neither did the waiting in the beginning, nor the waiting in the middle. And going through the Citadel with more wipes or near wipes on the random inhabitants in the halls than on the first four bosses (who actually should be the real challenge there) also did not really help to lighten things.

So what is the story behind this. It actually links back to Chastity, who commented on making an effort. There truly is no trying. That goes for signing up for raids.. for being on time.. for being on top of your game, even on the arguably easier intermissions between the big denizens of the citadel.. for being back in time after a break.. for all that. Last night left me with the feeling that too many people just did not do that. Or at least not consistently. Else, the run would have been a lot more fun.

But – making an effort is also true for your own mood. Looking back at this raid, i have to say that despite all these things, there is but one person to blame for me not feeling that it was fun… and that is.. ME.

You see.. WoW is like a mirror. You can loose yourself in it, and it can keep you happy, amused and all, but it will rarely give you anything you do not put in at the same time. You feel bored – well.. you will still feel bored while standing around wondering what to do. You feel moody – well.. sorry to say, but it is very unlikely that something from the game will actually lighten the mood. So, it does stand to reason that it is worth making an effort to be positive when logging into the game. Only then will the game be able to provide you with an afternoon or evening of fun.


Rambling raid

We raided again last night. And despite all attempts to mess things up, we were actually successful. Four bosses in 3 hours, with several breaks to replace people, long-winded explanations of things which happened quite differently – not a bad record.

Ok – this is Ulduar, we are speaking of, not ICC. Still – we had an inexperienced raid leader (me), a couple of people who were new to Ulduar. Perhaps even someone new to Raiding – i actually am not sure. We also had Mrs. Squish for tank. So, all that said, it still was a success. We had fun, we one-shot the golf caddy with 2 towers up (not a mean feat considering some had not caused it to fall apart ever before), and generally had far fewer deaths than i had feared with our setup.

Once it was all over (all too quickly, if you ask me), we sat back and looked at what we did / had. And one thing dawned on me.

Pulling in a highly overgeared tank (controlled by a very experienced and generally nice player, mind you) actually led us to the first trash wipe. Not that i want to blame the tank for it. But it did make me ponder. So i had a closer look at what happened afterwards. And i noticed a few things which happen if you have people like that in the raid

  • things get easier – no surprise, considering how things scale with equipment
  • deaths are more likely  – this was a surprise to me, but it is sort of easily explained.
    • Assuming the higher gear is on a  dps, chances are they will rip aggro from the poor tank. (Mrs. Squish.. remember ? Squishy, with an eye only for defense (to reach the cap) and just enough threat to keep a few baying hounds on her).
    • Assuming the higher gear is on a tank, chances are they will run in thinking “we can SO do this”, only to find out that the healers have trouble keeping the tank up, and the dps cannot quite follow-up. (Having the tank top the dps list is not necessarily good, you know)
    • Assuming the higher gear is on a healer, there is a significant risk of someone saying “I can SO soloheal this” (snottidyn anyone ?). And suddenly, the raid takes damage left, right and center. It is then that the healer may find out that sometimes you can fail at healing with an almost a full mana bar.
  • Tactics become less important. Many things can just be powered through with enough health / mana. Sometimes, some of the squishier people do not make it alive, but the raid itself prevails.
  • There are a few more ‘oh shit’ moments, but there are less ‘oh shit’ wipes.

Don’t get me wrong – i do  not want to point fingers at anyone. But i am challenging some of my own thoughts about how  going to a lower end raid instance could actually teach people about raiding. And i am wondering if it is right.

There is little doubt in my mind – during the explanations for the golf caddy, some people sat back yawning, thinking “let’s do this already, all these words are sort of pointless.. we know the drill”. And yes, they did know the drill. And most likely, they were right – given the setup, we probably would have made it without that many words. But we would have had a few people staring at their screen, wondering what the hell was going on, and also what hit them. But for me, those explanations were vital. On the one hand because they (hopefully) gave the new people a few pointers what to do and what not to do, and on the other hand because I needed to explain them.

Right.. that probably did not make sense for most people. So, allow me to mention something, which may (or just not) be known. I run these raids for three reasons.

  1. seeing  Ulduar – all of it. Including the bosses which usually are left out when taking a dive towards the (previously acclaimed) ultimate evil at the bottom.
  2. learning to lead raids. And believe me, it takes a lot of learning.
  3. introducing people to raiding.

So, doing those explanations is just as much for me, as it is for people who have not done a specific fight.

Now – that was the rambling part. And now (even more than before putting all this down) i am wondering if i am not missing a point. Yes, i can introduce people to raiding this way. There are quite a few things done differently when you are paired up with 9 or 24 others. But considering that we can (and actually did) muscle through complicated encounters by simply ignoring certain aspect which would take the raid and spread it on the ground in a thin film were it not so blatantly overgeared, it seems questionable if the introduction is that good.

On that note – it was still a lot of fun. Which proves, sometimes events with dubious qualities can provide a high amount of amusement.