Today is Bat Appreciation Day! Since KingsIsle is located in Austin, Texas, home to the world’s largest urban bat colony, we had to take advantage of this fun holiday to tell players a little bit about the unique town we call home. One of the most interesting and unique attractions Austin has to offer is its very own bat colony!
While there are a few locations where the Austin bats live, the biggest population is right in downtown Austin, under the Congress Avenue Bridge. This bridge crosses over a reservoir of the Colorado River that runs through downtown, called Lady Bird Lake and named after former United States First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. Lady Bird Lake is a hotspot in the city for kayaking & paddle boarding, as well as running & walking the “hike and bike trail” that surrounds it, and watching the bats emerge on summer nights!
When the warmer months of the year roll around, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats migrate from central Mexico to underneath the bridge, where they can be heard chattering during the day. Every night from March to November, just around dusk, the bats take flight by the thousands, providing the city with a unique and breathtaking tourist attraction.
When the bats first arrived to the Congress Bridge upon the completion of its renovations in 1980, the people of Austin were not pleased with their presence. Many citizens petitioned to have them removed, fearing the worst from the stereotypically dangerous animals. But with a little bit of research, it was clear that the bats were gentle creatures and did not pose a threat to humans if they didn’t try to touch them. So, they stayed! And since then, every summer night, the bats rid the city of up to 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects during their flight.
Annually, more than 100,000 people head out to the Austin American Statesman Bat Observation center just off of the bridge to witness the bats’ nightly flight. Have you ever had the chance to see them? Tell us about some unique things in your town in the comments! :)
Ahoy! In case ye didn’t know,”Ahoy” means “Hello!” Much more Piratey than “Hello,” “Hi,” or “Hey,” wouldn’t ye say? At any rate, ye thinks ye’d like to learn proper Pirate talk, eh? Good on ye, Matey! Within the secret treasure trove of this here list, ye shall discover secret meanings to a true Pirate’s language – ye will find it is in many ways a communication code, so by the time ye finish reading this, ye will be well prepared to talk just like a Pirate – aarrr!
The Basics, Me Matey!
Speaking of that, have ye ever wondered why it is that Pirates so often exclaim, mutter or growl the sound “Aarrr!”? Well, “Aarrr” is rather a magical Pirate word, to be sure. That’s because it is a great multipurpose or interchangeable type of exclamation.
Allow me to explain, me hearty. When a Pirate says “Aarrr,” he may be simply agreeing with something his captain or shipmate has just said, such as when Eye-Patch Pete says, “Let’s go ashore and seek the treasure!” To that, Stinky Sven (Pete’s shipmate Pirate) might enthusiastically respond:
“Aarrr!” Translation: “Right, let’s go!”
So it’s a kind of Pirate shorthand, ye see. Another meaning for “Aarrr” might be “I’m happy” or “This chocolate milk tastes positively delicious!” So while it might sometimes sound like a complaint or threat, by and large, “Aarrr” is a very agreeable sound!
Avast, me hearties!
No doubt ye’ve often heard “Avast, me hearties!” but may not have known exactly what the heck it means, is that right? Aarrr. Well, “Avast” by its lonesome means “Hey – listen up!” or “Stop what yer doin’ and pay attention!” As for “me hearties,” that’s sorta like sayin’ “my friends,” “buddies,” “pals,” or, as some like to say in these here modern times, “homies.” So, “Avast, me hearties” can be translated to mean “Hey, check this out, my friends!” Aarrr… now yer gettin’ the hang of the lingo, Matey! (“Matey” is just a nickname for a shipmate or a pal, by the by.)
When a Pirate is talkin’ of a fair lady, the phrase “Me Beauty” is one of the highest forms of a compliment. Of course, Pirates may also use this term when talkin’ about a beautiful ship or a chest full o’ gold doubloons!
Yo ho ho!
Pirates are fond of saying “Yo ho!” – usually within a song, like “Yo ho, a Pirate’s life for me.” Probably had that figgered out for yerself! Them thar be some o’ the basics. Now, let’s move on to other Pirate words used in that rollickin’ fun game Pirate101, shall we, Matey?
Now Fer Some Pirate101 Lingo
A “swashbuckler” is someone who’s an excellent swordsman, as Pirates tend to be! Legend has it that “swashbuckler” hearkens back to a time when fightin’ were done with a side-sword and a buckler in the other hand, and there was a lot of “swashing” (sweeping swordplay) and so forth. It’s sort o’ the Pirate equivalent for the Old Western term “gunslinger” – see the similarity? Aarrr!
A “henchman” is someone who carries out yer orders, dastardly as the work may be!
A “privateer” is a top-notch Pirate – a natural-born leader in the world of piracy!
A “musketeer” is an amazing marksman who uses his long-range, powder-charged firearm to wreak havoc!
“Buccaneers” wear the most effective body armor and tote the biggest weapons of any type of Pirate!
“Witchdoctors” are the masters of the arcane, using hoodoo powers to change the outcome of a battle. Though they are weak in direct fights, witchdoctors do not fight fair! Their hexes, blasts of fire, and summoned spirits all work against their enemies.
So practice yer Pirate lingo as much as possible and ye’ll be a full-fledged Pirate talker in no time flat! And ye must have FUN while doin’ so – that be an order! Aarrr!
Today is Encourage Young Writers Day! Because both Wizard101 and Pirate101 have strong ties to writing through the storytelling that has collectively captured the attention of over 50 million players, we had no choice but to celebrate. In fact, we asked one of our very own fan writers share a little bit about her process of creating great content! (After reading, you can check out even more of D.S. Devereaux’s work on her Soultamer blog and several of her Pirate101 Fan Fiction pieces on the Pirate101.com website!)
“On the day of this initial writing, it is the 29th of March. That means that I’ve put off writing this post for nine days. That equates to approximately eighteen cups of coffee, several handfuls of trail mix, and about six or seven hours of sitting at the computer desk, softly whispering to myself words of praise in the quest of getting myself going. It took me that long to trounce my ‘What if I can’t write this-es’ and get myself going by sitting down in this fancy little cafe with an equally fancy cup of fancy-sounding coffee and starting to type. Somewhere near the end of that process, I get these absolutely un-fancy words out, and then, “Oh, look – I’ve written a few sentences – time to go refill my cup again…”
Everyone sees writing differently. For me, writing is one of those Ettins over on Laestrygon, one of my favorite locations in Pirate101. Sure, they can be big and tough, but they’re also worthy opponents that pirates can and often do defeat. Writing can be described in the same way. There are good days, and there are bad days, both of which contribute to, and enrich the writing experience. Some days, I’m able to sit down and write like the wind, and others, I’m only able to sit down and check Twitter with a kind of velocity that I feel like I’ll ever be able reach when creating content.
Today, for example, is a Twitter day. I went into town and found myself easily distracted and self-entertained as I posted a few pictures of the fantastic burger I had just eaten, followed that up with the cup of coffee parked at my side, now only containing the orange peel left in the cup for flavor (Marvelous!). Mid-sleep-deprived-swashbuckler-y-sipping, a thought came to me besides stating that I really, really needed to get started writing. How did I end up defeating the Ettins when I had to? I didn’t sit at the tavern and think on it over a mug of Yum. No, I got up and fought the beasts! Sure, it took me a few tries, but once I got through the doldrums of poor companion choices and that one accidental heal when I needed to hit, I was well on my way through my questing! And my fingers aren’t Swashbucklers by themselves, that’s for sure, but if Dead-eye Destiny could whip through a few Ettins and emerge mighty, then for my part, I could go ahead and type up a post about it.
When faced with a writing opportunity or challenge, think about your own trials and efforts you have had in-game. Have you met a boss that took you a few tries to get past, or a mob that just wouldn’t drop what you needed? (Here’s looking at you, Fire Lion Ravagers.) Sure, it may have taken some time to fine-tune your strategy, but soon enough, you were the one victorious. The same idea can be applied to writing. I refer to the oldest of the old: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Wizards never stopped Malistaire Drake during their first encounter in Gamma’s Tower, and Pirates never stopped the Armada while in their clutches before meeting Boochbeard and Gandry, and good writing takes the same kind of patience and practice, except that this time, the real magic is in your fingertips.
Just like when you initially approach an Ettin, the task of writing up some fan-fiction, a short story, or even a poem may seem scary, but with every word written, the intimidation level of the threat gets smaller and smaller until you come out on top. And perhaps, for all the hard work you’ve done, you’ve come away with a few good lessons, whether that be correctly using Assassin’s Mist (one of my favorites!) or feeling just that more empowered and enlightened in the art of writing. With practice and patience you too, can size up that Ettin for what it really is, and turn a Twitter day into a writing one, or even turn a daunting task into a thrilling adventure.”