Celebrating One Year of Celebrating Cheese

•02/28/2011 • 1 Comment

I decided in early March of last year that it was about bloody time other folks started to appreciate cheese more. I can’t make a person change their mind about cheese if they don’t like it. Not until those mind control devices get past the prototype stage, anyhow. But I can spread the word about cheese. I can take the joy of cheese to those who’ve never known it’s comforting, healing effect. I can share the Light with folks by sharing cheese with them. Cheese is like the Light. It’s yellow. It comforts yourself when you’re hungry and alone. It makes folks feel good when you share it with them.

That’s why I started the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club, and this was the first announcement I put out:

The Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club is pleased to announce to the various peoples of Azeroth that DWARVEN MILD is the March Cheese of the Month!

The Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club is dedicated to spreading the joy of cheese throughout Azeroth… even to goblins… through various programs such as:

Announcing the Cheese of the Month. Monthly.

Financially supporting the Trias cheese shop in Stormwind and One More Glass in Dalaran.

Sharing cheese with the cheeseless.

Please support the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club by asking for fine cheeses, such as DWARVEN MILD, at taverns near you.

– Fizzy Stouthammer, spokesdwarf for the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club

One year of celebrating cheese. It seems a wee bit unreal. Not that cheese could be celebrated so regularly for so long. Personally, I’ve been celebrating cheese every day for several years now and don’t intend to stop. I mean it seems a wee bit unreal that folks would listen to myself go on about cheese for so long. And even more unreal that others would get involved. I’ll be honest… I thought myself was the only one who cared. I just care enough that I didn’t see any cause for letting that stop me.

I’ve had priests stop myself in the bank to say the Cheese of the Month Club seems very appropriate for dwarves. One of our human members who keeps us connected with the Trias family in Stormwind has told myself folks have stopped her and asked what the cheese of the month is before. I’ve had to stop putting fliers up in the Deeprun Tram because I think Haggle might have handed them to some folks. I woke up one day and there were a few Gilneans, a gnome, and a very suspicious spellslinger all saying they’d decided to join.

Little Brann designed our tabard. Stuck his paw in some yellow paint and stepped right in the middle of the orange fabric! I’ve worn that tabard proudly. I fought the Scourge while wearing it. I’ve faced opponents in arenas while wearing it. My brother may be recognized as a Crusader when he steps in, and he may be one of the Light’s instruments of retribution… but I’ve got bears and cheese on my side!

As the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club has done for a year now, I ask you to help us spread the joy of cheese to all of Azeroth.  I suppose Dalaran is mostly just littered with mages these days. If you find yourself there for some reason, though, stop in and buy some cheese at One More Glass. Go by the leatherworking shop and see if Glowergold is still there. He likes it if you take some cheese to him.  Support the Trias Cheese Shop in Stormwind. Support those who sell cheese in your home city and in other towns you pass through. Share cheese with your friends. Share it with strangers. Feed it to your bear. Search the corpse of any cultist for cheese. Don’t let good cheese fall into cultist hands!

If you aren’t certain where to start, I suppose the beginning is a fine enough place. Start with this month’s Cheese of the Month: DWARVEN MILD.

Light and Cheese,

– Fizzy Stouthammer, spokesdwarf for the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club

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Report #00036: Subconscious Nocturnal Oddities

•02/12/2011 • 1 Comment

It’s a rare thing for myself to be bothered by dreams. I had one that was so troubling for days after once that my brother finally said I should go speak to one of the priests to set my mind at ease, and that led to speaking with a druid, and… Well, I just try not to be bothered by them anymore. That’s too much talking to folks who want to see more than just a dream for it to be worth the bother. I’ve had some strange ones lately, though! I don’t mean the strange dreams everyone has. Nothing like the one where it’s your first time walking around in Stormwind and you run into a mage wearing an omlette for a hat, and he tells you the bankers are all waiting for you to get to the Trade District so they can set up everything for the Cheese Festival.

I mean truly strange dreams!

I’ve been dreaming about being in Northrend again. One night, it was my brother and myself going into Azjol-Nerub with nobody except Serhilde to watch our backs. Another night, we were exploring Gundrak.  Now, my brother says I’ve got more faith in the Light than some priests he’s known, but I don’t have that much faith! There’s faith, and then there’s being a bloody git. Not only would I never go in there with just himself and the bear… Well, I just can’t see any reason to go back to Zul’Drak at all! That place did its damage to myself once already.

There’s one dream, though, that was plenty strange without being particularly frightening or unpleasant. I took Serhilde and Little Brann with myself one evening and set up camp out in the mountains that run near the pass between Dun Morogh and Loch Modan. I haven’t always been able to take them along when I travel in the last few months, and Serhilde gets plenty restless in Ironforge. It’s good to get her out into the mountains and snow and let her run free a bit.

We were curled up, the three of us, near the campfire that night and I was thinking how much my life has changed over the past year or so. I got to thinking about Frostbolt, and how I don’t see him so often anymore. I get to thinking he’s run off back to Winterspring to be with the other big cats like himself. Then I’ll wake up one morning and find him stretched out on the floor in front of one of my bookcases. The animals I call family fight perfectly at my side when the need arises, but I’ve never had much control over them when there’s not an emergency. I don’t suppose I’d want to, either. Part of being family is being free to go your own way when that’s what’s best for yourself.

I sort of spoke to the bears, but sort of to myself. Maybe to the fire… I’m not certain. I said, “There was a time Frostbolt and myself knew each other so well it was as if I could see the world through his eyes at times. I’m not certain what changed. I just… couldn’t one day.” Brann looked up at my face for a second, then started digging into the bag of cheese I’d taken along. Maybe everyone was right. Maybe I should have fed him more meat when he first came to live with myself.

I fell asleep right next to Serhilde. It still seems odd to myself that the women of Brunnhildar Village thought she was too small to be a warbear. She’s plenty big, plenty strong, more than plenty brave, and very soft and warm when you’re sleeping in the snow. I was drifting off toward sleep, and the last thing I could sort of remember thinking is that I wondered what it would be like to be a bear.

Somewhere in the night, I realized I was walking around. I was moving rather slowly, just not seeing any reason to hurry at that time. Not that time mattered too much. Every moment was simply “now”. No reason to think back past now, and no reason to think ahead of now. Only what happens now is real. One paw forward now… shifting my weight across the snow now. Each time I shifted my weight and set down a paw, the reality of “now” changed. Not that I was giving it so much thought. This was… is… simply the nature of things.

The air was filled with many scents, but I took little notice of most of them. They were commonplace and insignificant. One scent, though, had my attention. It was food. Different than the small plants I ate. This was flesh. Not  fresh kill, blood flowing and entrails steaming. Flesh heated over fire. Not as good. Still better than berries.

My weight shifts, my paws sinking into the top layer of snow as my body moves toward the scent of the flesh. The small creatures with the long ears and twitching whiskers make so much noise as they hop through the bushes, but I let them pass by me during this “now”. I have eaten them, and will again, but somewhere beyond “now” I know the female warming the flesh over the fire becomes upset when I eat the small creatures with the long ears. I will not upset her.

She is an odd creature. I comprehend the meanings of her sounds and gestures, but they are different from the ones I knew before. I knew the sounds and gestures of much larger females. They were like my own kind. Hard, but fair. No weakness. Only survival. This female… she has much weakness. She is of a different kind than the large females who raised me in the far away snow. She has much strength, as well. She must because she survives. She takes creatures other than myself into her den. She is warm and soft. She has killed. Animals. Her own kind. Wrong things that smell sick and dead, and I knew I should run from them when I saw them move like living things. The female did not run, though, so I stayed by her. I would not let them taste her blood and entrails. She is an odd creature… not of my kind, but she is my cub. The other bear is also my cub, even as he is the female’s cub. They are mine because I simply “know” they are. I do not question it. I simply play with them, work with them, eat with them, sleep by them, protect them.

She is odd. Weak, but strong. Gentle with her own. Ready to kill to protect us. To protect the den. A bear with no fur and the wrong smell.

My paws stop moving. The smell of the fire-warmed flesh has been making me hungry for a very long “now” as I moved closer. The female brushes snow from my coat with her hands. Now I sink my teeth into the flesh. The small cub eats the same food as the female… some of the meat, and the strange milk that is not milk. The female calls it “cheese”, but this sound means nothing to me. I understand what her sounds mean to her, but all that means something to me is smell, taste, sound, instinct. Sleep. The need to sleep matters to me.

And then it was morning, and I realized I am bloody well not a bear! I am Fizzy Stouthammer, and these dreams are a strange bit of foolishness my mind gets up to when I’m sleeping. I took some parchment out of my bag and scribbled down what I’d been dreaming, and that’s how I wrote it up here. If I’d counted on my own memory there wouldn’t have been much to write. It doesn’t much seem real now, which I suppose it never was. And that is the normal way of dreams… to disappear like that once I’m awake again.

The only thing is… I could have sworn Serhilde was laughing at myself the next day. In some sort of “bear laughing” way.

To: The Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club – From: Moonglade

•02/01/2011 • 1 Comment

To my fellow cheese-lovers in Ironforge,

PLEASE SEND CHEESE!

Against my better judgement, I thought I’d give another shot at this “make friends with elves, form meaningful relationships with flowers” thing.  The Lunar Festival seemed like a good time for this. How much could go wrong while honoring the ancestors of your people? Besides some odd personal feelings about there being no gnomish ancestors anyone’s found, it was all going well.

Then I realized there’s no decent CHEESE here in Moonglade! Certainly none related to the festival, and I’m stuck here another few days trying to figure out what makes their odd brew glow like it does.

Are you bloody gits getting all of this? I’m stuck in the middle of a bunch of elves and all their friends, with trees and flowers and glowing elf ale, but NO CHEESE! Send help!

And, for Light’s sake, please put up the notices about this month’s Cheese of the Month!  If no one can find the notices I wrote up, just write this on a few sheets of parchment:

HIGHLAND SHEEP CHEESE

is the February Cheese of the Month

This message is brought to you by the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club

 

They won’t have my signature, but they’ll do in a pinch. Put one up next to Mangorn Flinthammer’s shop (the bank side, not between his shop and the hallway), another just outside the library, and be sure to leave one in the Stonefire Tavern and another in Bruuk’s Corner.  A mage can handle getting a couple of them to Dalaran, and scatter the rest around Stormwind.

And don’t forget to send me some cheese! Preferably Dwarven Mild. Or Highland Sheep Cheese. NOT Darnassian Bleu!

Cheese and Light,

– Fizzy Stouthammer, spokesdwarf for the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club (even in Moonglade)

Report #00035: Technological Advancements in Modern Azeroth

•01/10/2011 • Comments Off on Report #00035: Technological Advancements in Modern Azeroth

It’s been some time since I filed a report concerning my work as an engineer. Engineering and myself have always had a passionate love/hate relationship.  I suppose several years of near-crippling technophobia didn’t help that any. Being an engineer is something I do well, though, and I can’t help but look at a sturdy defense tower and think to myself, “Adding a device to make the cannons also work as high-speed personnel launchers would get those shaman to the other side of the battlefield much faster. A self-deploying parachute should make it safe enough, and if it also sent out a powerful electrostatic charge when it deployed, the shaman would land safely in the middle of stunned enemies, instead of folks swinging axes at them. Plenty of time for a drink before fighting.”

I suppose that’s the influence of the sort of engineering everyone seems to expect from us. Weapons. Transportation. Something with clear battlefield potential to turn the tide in our favor. It seems like everyone loves having gyrocopters and flying machines so that aerial assault isn’t limited to those of us who can work as one with a gryphon, but few take the time to think about what a great achievement it is simply to be able to make something constructed from several wagonloads of adamantite get up in the air in the first place! Khorium is not the easiest material to work with, but certain properties make it well-suited for a power core on a machine like that. Adamantite is heavy, and it only gets heavier when you’ve got enough of it to make something that big.

At least the folks flying them appreciate them. I sometimes wonder how many bloody gits drive those motorcycles around and think of it as nothing more than a way to show folks that going bald and having to take herbal supplements just to get out of bed every day doesn’t mean they’ve become any less fun-loving or wealthy.

I’m not opposed to weapons. I’d hate for anyone to think that. I’m still partial to the feel of a finely crafted short blade in my hand, but I’ve gotten used to running around making use of  whatever good sized stick I can find. For a while, it was a murloc trident. It’s not as though I go looking for folks to club in the head, anyhow, and if I’m pressed into a fight I’m much more likely to back up a bit and start shooting. And thank Gilneas for guns! Make no mistake, it’s the dwarves you can be thanking for the development of an accurate ranged weapon far superior to elf bows. And it’s the draenei who brought us a decent bow to use if you absolutely must. I’m not ashamed to use a crossbow. But dwarven gunsmiths haven’t changed the gun too much over the years. I understand why, of course… if the original basic design works so bloody well, why tinker it into something it doesn’t need to be? But that part of myself that wants to invent something new, whether it’s need or not, is just a wee bit giddy over seeing that some new gun designs showed up right about the same time our Gilnean allies did. I’m given to understand that the Gilneans take a certain pride in their hunting, and it shows in the weapons.

There’s more to engineering than weapons and transport vehicles, though. Some folks seem to be surprised that I’m a scholar, an explorer, and have thrown myself into being an archaeologist. What they don’t understand is that it’s all really one thing in my own mind… it’s all part of being a Quantum Mechanical Engineer. My work is about understanding not just how the universe works, but why it works that way. And then replicating it through carefully designed and expertly crafted machines. It was a Quantum Mechanical Engineer who designed the World Enlarger. It was a Quantum Mechanical Engineer who designed the Mechanical Sheep. It was someone working in Explosives Research an d Development who turned it into an Explosive Sheep. Same thing happened with the Mechanical Rabbits. They got tinkered into Explosive Decoys. I’m a wee bit surprised they didn’t bother with blowing up the Mechanical Squirrels.

I’m pleased to see that engineering advancements seem to be creating more of a place for those gadgets, gizmos, doohickeys, and wotchamadoogles that usually get quickly left behind or turned into a weapon. I don’t see any sign of weapons being left behind, and that’s all well and good, but some of us have needed a place for our work to be admired without being immediately blown up. Unless it was designed to be blown up. I’m glad to see the Dragonling Project has been revived. Sure, you can use a Dragonling as a weapon, but that’s more a side-effect of the creation than the purpose of it. It’d be bloody silly to build a mechanical dragon of any size that couldn’t fight its way out of a linen bag. I don’t know who thought up the Loot-a-Rang, but I giggle every time I thorw the thing! And it seems the goblin “engineers” have finally done something right… I’m only disappointed that we’re cooking with Goblin Barbecues instead of Dwarven Barbecues. But we dwarves have had our hands a bit full, whereas the goblins have just had their hands full of gold.

My personal project recently has been a bit of reverse engineering something that was created through reverse engineering. Which is to say, I suppose, that it’s finally been engineered the way it was intended. Reverse engineering the universe can’t be done all in one day. It requires working on it in bits and pieces. The Mechanical Rabbit was one of those pieces. Or maybe it was a bit. I don’t know… I wasn’t working on the development for that particular project. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in blowing them up anymore, so they’re now being converted back to something that’s harmless unless you stick your hand too close to the joint just when it kicks a foot. At worst, you might bleed a bit. It’ll wash off.

My only trouble was that the Explosive Decoys were built with fairly sensitive detonation triggers. Sure, they look convincing enough, but you need them to blow up fast when someone walks up because the ticking could give it away. I blew up about ten of them just trying to deactive them. Then another engineer suggested I try crafting some new ones without detonators, and perhaps upgrade the materials. It made sense enough. If the thing’s not going to be blowing up, it won’t hurt to give it some durability. I intended to give it a similar look, with the fur and all, but I can see why other engineers working on this haven’t been doing so. There’s something beautiful just about seeing the creature hop around, twitching its little wire whiskers, and those jeweled eyes sparkling. It’s nearly as much a living being as any flesh and blood creature. And isn’t that what the Titans did to all of Azeroth… engineered and tinkered things into being? So I just stuck a fluorescent bulb in for a tail and let the wee critter hop around.

I’m not so sure about the official designation for this, though. De-Weaponized Mechanical Companion? It lacks something. I’ve been thinking B.U.N.N.13 works better.

From the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club: A New Year’s Guide to Azerothian Cheese

•01/01/2011 • 2 Comments

Happy New Year, from the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club!

Many of you are waking up on this first day of the new year with a hangover, not sure how you ended up sprawled across that table in the tavern, and trying to recall where your boots walked off to on their own. Or, as we call this in Ironforge, it’s Saturday. To help you get yourselves together and get the new year started with a wee bit of organization and some bloody clue as to what you’re doing, the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club offers this handy guide to Azerothian cheese. The truth is, you’ll make a fool of yourself more than just a few times this year… you may as well not make a fool of yourself when it comes to cheese.

May you find everything you seek in the coming year… as long as you aren’t seeking anything that sells us out to the Burning Legion, gets us overrun by the undead, lures insane dragons to our city gates, or sets any bloody Old Gods loose.

— Fizzy Stouthammer, spokesdwarf for the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club

 

The Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club 2011 Guide to Azerothian Cheese

 

Aged Dalaran Limburger: Officially, you shouldn’t be eating this cheese. Ranid Glowergold always seems to be running out of it, and there’s a reward for taking some to him that you can spend on something more appetizing. Unofficially, I can tell you it’s a rather smooth cheese, fine for spreading on bread, but the smell takes some getting used to.

Aged Dalaran Sharp: Make this easy on yourself. Go down to the Dalaran sewers, stick your head in the water, and wait for something floating around in that “magical stew” to bite you with more teeth than any un-mutated creature should have. It’s the same experience as eating this cheese. Some folks might like that sort of thing.

Alterac Swiss: Not at all bad for a human cheese. In fact, it’ll get you through in a pinch if you’ve run out of Dwarven Mild.

Boulderslide Cheese: This cheese is still be researched by the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club, but I’ll be straight with you… I’m not holding out a bloody lot of hope when it comes to kobold cheese.

Briny Hardcheese: This is not a cheese for everyone. It seems fair to warn those who’ve never come across it before that it’s briny and hard. If you don’t have a problem with the taste of seawater and no trouble digesting rocks, you might not mind it. It’s not quite that difficult to handle. Might seem close to those with sensitive digestive systems, I suppose.

Dalaran Sharp: This cheese is a decent alternative to Aged Dalaran Sharp. It’s merely the culinary equivalent of getting hit in the tongue with an arcane missile. A rather weak arcane missile, at that. Tickles a wee bit after the first couple of bites.

Dalaran Swiss: If Dalaran Sharp is a bit too sharp for yourself, I suggest trying Dalaran Swiss instead. It’s a wee bit stronger than Alterac Swiss, but much milder than Dalaran Sharp. Personally, I suspect some alchemist somewhere is just transmuting Dalaran Sharp and Alterac Swiss into Dalaran Swiss.

Darnassian Bleu: This is an elf cheese. I suppose that’s fine, if you’re partial to that sort of thing.

Dwarven Mild: There is no cheese in all of Azeroth finer than Dwarven Mild! Nothing says, “You’re a fine woman, Fizzy, and a joy to see … not to mention a learned scholar and great engineer! I respect and admire your fondness for bears!” like a gift of Dwarven Mild.  If the Holy Light were a cheese, it would be Dwarven Mild. Dwarven Mild can mend a broken heart and bring peace to a tormented mind. I’ve been told demons can’t digest it. I think the reasons are obvious.

Fine Aged Cheddar: Suspected to be Dwarven Mild that the Wildhammer Clan took with them during the War of the Three Hammers, which would make it Very Bloody Old Dwarven Mild. The Wildhammer’s are neither confirming or denying this, though. In fact, they just give myself strange looks when I ask them about it. At any rate, it’s a fine cheese!

Garadar Sharp: This cheese has been imported to Azeroth from Draenor by the orcs. If you like sharp cheeses, this one has a slightly exotic flavor… but not so exotic as to be mistaken for something a troll cooked up. I’d rate it above Dalaran Sharp.

Gilnean White: To be honest, this cheese is not exactly the most exciting thing to come from behind the Greymane Wall. I mean no disrespect to our Gilnean allies, and I’ll thank you to not rip my throat out with your claws. Or teeth. I’ve got nothing against Gilneans. Some of my best friends are animals! And sometimes a person finds themself wanting something not too exciting to dine on. Maybe you’ve got an upset stomach, or maybe you’ve just had more excitment in one day than you can properly handle. For those times when you just don’t want to taste your food but aren’t desperate enough to chew on parchment or leaves, Gilnean White is nourishing and filling without being much to think about. At all.

Highland Sheep Cheese: This cheese is much like the Wildhammers themselves… strong, firm and dense, with a hard outer crust I don’t advise you try to eat, and a distinct flavor.

Holiday Cheese Wheel: It doesn’t really matter if you like this cheese or not… stock up on it when Winter Veil comes around! The bloody Smokeywood Pastures goblins keep it locked up for most of a year!

Mag’har Mild Cheese: Another import from Draenor, Mag’har Mild is an alternative to Garadar Sharp if that one’s got a bit too much bite for you. Mag’har Mild retains the exotic flavor, but goes down a bit easier.

Salted Yeti Cheese: The women of Brunnhildar Village share this cheese among themselves. If you can get into their village, you can sometimes get some of it for yourself.  I don’t suppose it’s really necessary to explain just how strong this cheese is. Just think about it… Salted… Yeti Cheese. From the women of Brunnhildar Village. It’s one of the better cheese you can find, but it’ll knock you down as hard as a Dark Iron getting hit with Brewfest mugs if you aren’t stronger than the cheese.

Smoked String Cheese: A newer variety being offered, this cheese is very convenient for travel. The wee sticks of cheese don’t take up all that much space in a traveler’s bags, and they’re very convenient for sharing with others. The Trias Cheese Shop in Stormwind is a nice spot to pick some up before heading out of the city.

Sour Goat Cheese: I don’t eat this cheese often, myself. Serhilde likes it, though, and she’s a fairly picky bear… so I suppose this is a fine cheese to have around if you need something to feed to bears. Which I always do.

Spiced Onion Cheese: Your best chance of finding this cheese is during Brewfest! Like most Brewfest foods and drinks, it’s a wee bit of a gamble but mostly worth it.

Stormwind Brie: The Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club has only once named this culinary monstrosity as the Cheese of the Month, and it was more as a nod to Elling Trias for having a cheese shop in Stormwind than out of any true respect for the… block of cheese horror. This is the Scourge of cheese! If cheese could be undead, Stormwind Brie is exactly what it would rise from the grave as! I cannot advocate putting this in your mouth. Or anyone else’s mouth.

Stromgarde Muenster: The cheese itself is tasty enough, but the interesting thing is the mystery surrounding it. I attempted to solve this mystery once, but have yet uncover necessary clues. It seems you can only find this cheese two ways. If you’re helping the Bronze Dragon Flight and they send you off into the Caverns of Time, this cheese can be found years ago in the Hillsbrad Foothills, around the Southshore and Tarren Mill area. It can also be found in the Outlands… what remains of Draenor. I have yet to determine whether it was carried there by the Sons of Lothar, or if the Forsaken confiscated all the Stromgarde Muenster in the area when they took over Tarren Mill and then moved it to the Outlands when the Dark Portal was reopened.

Westfall Cottage Cheese: I cannot find any evidence of the existence of this cheese, and have determined it was most likely just some dumb thing some drunken idiot human said once. However, it doesn’t sound appealing at all, and if it ever did exist I suppose that might explain a lot about what went so bad in Westfall.

 

All cheeses were reviewd by Fizzy Stouthammer. While these are the official reviews of the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club as a whole, individual members opinions of various cheeses are still subject to personal preference and mutated sense of taste.






Twas the Last Night of Winter Veil…

•12/24/2010 • 2 Comments

Twas the last night of Winter Veil, and all through Khaz Modan
The dwarves gathered ’round their hearths, every woman and man.
The mugs and steins were set on the wooden tables with care,
In the hopes that Greatfather Winter soon would be there.

The wee ones were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sharpshooter rifles danced in their heads.
And Friginne with his ale, and Fizzy with her cheese,
Had just gone inside so they wouldn’t freeze

When at the Gates of Ironforge there arose such a clatter
They ran from the tavern to see what was the matter!
To the statue of King Anvilmar they flew like a flash,
Both running faster than even a feral druid could dash!

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the sparkle of rare gems to objects below,
When what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight mechanical reindeer

With a little old driver, chilled to the bone.
They knew immediately it must be a gnome.
Nearly rapid as gryphons his coursers they came,
And he giggled and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Mecha-dash! Now Spincog! Now Swiftbolt and Blinkzen!
On, Arcano-glide! On, Giftgear! On, Tinker and XMAS-2010!
To the top of the Great Forge! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash awa– NO! Do NOT malfunction!”

As the dry leaves in a Moonkin’s hurricane fly,
They must also crash to the ground when they fall from the sky.
So did the mechanical reindeer, landing in the snow,
With a sleigh full of gadgets and a disappointed gnome.

And then, in a twinkling, Friginne motioned they hush
And pointed to something moving in the brush.
As Fizzy rubbed an icicle from her nose,
Someone approached on the road from Kharanos.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his toe,
And his cloak, billowing behind him, covered everything in snow.
A bundle of feast food he had flung on his back.
(The gnome hoped there was a spare arclight spanner in the sack.)

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples — how merry!
His cheeks were properly plump, his nose red as a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a good-sized round belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.

He was both strong and plump, like a proper dwarven man,
And Friginne gave a cheer loud enough for a whole clan!
A wink of the traveler’s eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave the gnome to know he had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Repaired all the reindeer, then turned with a jerk.
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod… disappeared into the snow!

The gnome sprang to his sleigh, singing a merry song,
And off the reindeer flew toward the surface of Gnomeregan.
But the dwarves heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“Next year, I’m using the turbo-charged kite!”

Report #00034: Metaphorically Shining a New Light on a Very Real Mindset

•12/15/2010 • 1 Comment

Winter Veil is on the way! In fact, it may well have started already by the time I get this report filed. Winter Veil is one of my favorite holidays, and I find myself hoping it’ll be just what Ironforge needs this year. I’ve spent as little time here as possible lately. I went looking for somewhere else to move myself and all the animals to. I haven’t found anywhere that feels as right as here in the mountain. I did find some nice places that are lacking that “feminine touch” afflicting the High Seat these days, but those places just aren’t home. Having taken up archaeology to assist the Explorers League provided a perfect excuse for traveling around so much, but the truth is that I was running again. I have to stop doing that. King Magni believed in myself. I owe it to his memory to believe in myself, as well. So, with Winter Veil on the way, I’ve come home.

I was wandering around the Hall of Explorers, which seems to be one place to have held up faily well through all that’s happened, when I ran into Laris Geardawdle. I almost always run into him… myself looking around at the artifacts, and himself looking at some vials of ooze he’s studying. There’d be fewer collisions in the hallway if at least one of us would watch where we’re going, I suppose. He started telling myself about some fascinating thing he’s been observing when the vials of ooze are exposed to low doses of arcane energy, or something along those lines. Normally, I’d be fascinated myself, but my mind was on other things. Enough so that Laris noticed, and when he asked about it I suppose there was a lot stored in my head just waiting to spill out.

I told him about my doubts about myself, and my fears about being a disappointment to folks on account of not being the hero my brother is. I talked for a bit about how my words seem to be taken differently by some of the people who matter most to myself when they hear these words coming from a dwarf instead of a gnome. How I still feel partially at fault for what happened to King Magni because I never got around to drawing his attention to the fact that we don’t understand yet everything found in Ulduar. How I feel lost as an engineer because everyone is tinkering with things I could build with my eyes closed and my arclight spanner all the way on the other side of the room. And how I’m scared because I feel like I’m losing folks I care about. I can barely bring myself to look at elves now that they’re fiddling with arcane energy again, and I never could convince anyone that runes are the safest way to go. To make things worse, they’ve got Malfurion Stormrage walking around in that big tree full of wisps, and I just know Teldrassil is going to end up the same way Nordrassil did because of it!

Laris looked up from the notes he was making about his vials of ooze after a minute and simply said to myself, “Your data is corrupted.”

“I’m not the one making notes on bottles of green slime,” I reminded him.

“Oh no, this one isn’t full of slime! This one is an ooze sample brought back to me from the Un’goro Crater. You wouldn’t believe how it was obtained! The fellow who went out there to get samples for me said the ooze actually cloned itself! I was very pleased that he had the cleverness to use an empty alchemy flask to take a separate sample from the clone so that I can compare the two.”

I figured he hadn’t really heard a bloody word I said until he said again,” But the fact remains that your data is corrupted.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

Here, he set aside the notes and vials to look right at myself and speak. “Fizzy, I’ve known you since you were sixty-five years old. You have presented yourself as someone who did not believe the QUARK lab was important in Gnomeregan. You are only partially correct in that assesment, however! QUARK was about pushing the boundaries of science and engineering. QUARK may not have been integral to the daily functioning of the city, but it was no less a part of that unidentified, uncategorized feeling that popped us out of our beds each day and sent us hurrying off to see what secrets we could convince Science to reveal to us!”

I thought about telling him he might want to run that idea past a few folks from the robotics lab, but he wasn’t finished yet.

“You might want to speak to Fizzlegear while you’re home. He’s been going on about some of the latest engineering developments, and they sound truly fascinating! Any time is the right time to start new projects, you know. As far as concerining yourself over what happens with our Night Elf allies… Oh! That reminds me! Did you know there was some interesting research from Kalimdor that suggested there may be a troll legend that tells how Night Elves evolved from trolls after settling near the Well of Eternity? I’ve found there are a number of life forms on Azeroth that seem to share some common characteristics.”

I didn’t bother to remind him that it was myself who told him about that legend. I still wish I could have gotten that book out of Gadgetzan!

“Look at me, sidetracked by history!” Laris said. “I meant to say… What did I mean to say? Oh! Of course! You are heroic, Fizzy. You survived the fall of Gnomeregan. You’ve made a regular practice of clearing Coldridge Pass of troggs. You’ve taken on those who have attempted to compromise the security of Ironforge. You have explored all of Azeroth, done your best to prove yourself to the Explorers League, founded the Khaz Modan Cheese of the Month Club, served as an ambassador… My goodness! When do you sleep?”

“Sometimes I doze off and let Bronzefeather navigate on his own,” I admitted.

“Ah ha! You successfully met a high standard necessary for being accepted as a Gryphon Rider!”

“Just in time for every-bloody-body with enough gold saved up to buy a permit to be able to fly around,” I pointed out.

“Whether or not every engineer in the lab builds the same gizmo isn’t the point, Fizzy. The point is that the one you built works!”

He made a good point there.

“You’ve fought back the Scourge in the Plaguelands, traveled through the Dark Portal, and contributed to efforts in Northrend on two distinctly different fronts. I understand your doubts about your contributions, but I feel compelled to remind you that only those deemed heroic enough to be able to perform at a certain level of effectiveness were sent at all. You aren’t a Crusader like your brother, this is true. You are, however, an Argent Champion. Be proud of what you accomplish and the effort you make. It is illogical and counter-productive to hold yourself up to your brother as a measure of your self-worth. You will always interpret the results as a failure if you do. Fizzy Stouthammer cannot be Friginne Stouthammer. For obvious biological reasons, of course… though I suspect there may be a schematic in Tinker Town for something to override that.”

“What about my not being able to get on so well with folks?” I asked him. “Why am I expected to like all our allies and hate every member of the Horde I see, without even getting to know them first?”

“You don’t have to get along with every member of each of our allies. The humans are our allies. The members of the Defias Brotherhood were humans. I don’t believe I ever heard that cited as a reason not to help the people of Stormwind do something about the problems they had with the Defias Brotherhood, though. The Twighlight’s Hammer cult has been recruiting members from all races for many years. I’m not much of a combat specialist, but if a member of the cult showed up here in the library I doubt I’d hesitate to fight back merely based on an analysis of the origin of their ancestors. And, of course, with that research on the trolls and the oozes…”

“I think I see your point,” I told him.

It’s not the first time I’ve found myself being corrected about thinking my actions aren’t very heroic. I suppose it’s just hard for myself to see doing things that need to be done as “being heroic”. My brother pledged himself to the Ironforge military for many years. Then he pledged himself to serving the Light. He’s been through intense training, and followed orders even when he didn’t care for those orders. He’s faced the worst things imaginable, and even some of the worst things that can’t be imagined… they just show up in front of yourself one day. Myself, however… I go about my way. I struggled along as a mage when I couldn’t be accepted as a priestess. What passes for “training” for myself is really just some instruction now and then, nothing like military training. I found my peace in traveling the world with animals as my friends after I gave up that mage foolishness. I’m no sharpshooter. I can track nearly anything, and I can lay out a decent trap. I can put a suffering animal out of its misery, and I can shoot well enough to prevent a dangerous individual from getting very far or hurting very many. Mostly, though, I love to travel and learn. I love exploration and innovation. I just help folks along the way when I can because I can’t stand to see them struggling or hurting.

Is that really all it takes to be heroic?

I spoke to Doktor Professor Ironpants before I headed home. He said he’d heard I’ve resigned my position as an ambassador, after all. I told him there doesn’t seem to be much of a need for myself doing that work anymore. The Bael’dun digsite was bad enough to see, and traveling through some of those areas of Kalimdor is more dangerous these days than disguising myself as a Blood Elf can fix. I don’t know what’s got the Horde so riled up… it seems unlikely that this is really about the Wrathgate anymore… but they don’t seem too interested in letting myself get through to check on things. Even though it’s not in Kalimdor, and not a digsite, I went by to check on the folks at Dun Garok. It seems the Forsaken ones finally won the battle, and the place just feels wrong. Not the sort of wrongness I felt when I rode through to Grim Batol back before those orcs started up trouble there again, but perhaps a haunted feeling. And the Explorers League has folks stationed everywhere these days, anyhow. I figure I can be of more use to them as an archaeologist.

Ironpants said that’s exactly what he was hoping I would say. He was fairly impressed by that old chalice I recovered, and even more impressed by that skeletal raptor that runs around. I pointed out Whelgar’s got a whole dig full of those raptors now, and I did try to warn them all that digging there might not have been the best idea. Then Ironpants asked myself if I’d be willing to be known as “Assistant Professor Fizzy Stouthammer”.

It looks like I may have a new job. I’ll get started as soon as Winter Veil is over!