Time pushes us along,
Through good times and bad,
If we sing a song,
Time is merciless and does not judge,
Whether we run or walk or trudge,
Time carries us through good and bad,
So there’s time enough for both to be had.
Happy Revenge Of The Fifth and a belated happy May The Fourth. In honor of these Star Warsian holidays I’d like to discuss an issue that really bugs me and which is Star Wars related.
I’m on record as loving Rogue One. It’s my favorite new Star Wars (that is, favorite of all the ones made after the original trilogy). But there are some people who roll their eyes at me when I tell them that. And then they accuse me of, “You only like it because of the hot girl.” That’s pretty upsetting for a bunch of reasons. Firstly, I do not rave about movies being great just because I’m nuts for the lead actress. If that was the case I’d be arguing that every Jennifer Aniston film ever made is amazing. But secondly it’s also dismissive of the actresses talent, I like Jyn Erso because she’s a well written character and the actress who played her did a fantastic job acting the part. Plus there’s more to a great movie than just one character played by one actress, there’s a whole cast of characters and actors, there’s the films writing and directing and special effects and all those other things. I do not love a two hour long movie just because it features one attractive person!
It’s a problem I run into a lot actually. I say I like Arrival and I’m accused of only liking it because of Amy Adams. When I talk positively about Black Widow I’m dismissed because of how hot Scarlett Johansson is. When I proclaim Return Of The Jedi to be my favorite Star Wars movie of the original trilogy (and all time) people tell me it’s only because of the Princess Leia in the Metal Bikini scenes.
The super frustrating thing about Rogue One is that I’m not super attracted to Felicity Jones. I mean she’s beautiful of course but personally I’m just not that into her. Which is how I know I’m not being unduly influenced by my hormones. I genuinely like her character for the way she’s written and the way Felicity Jones portrays her. But I feel uncomfortable using my lack of attraction to her as a rebuttal to people accusing me of overrating the movie. I shouldn’t need to prove my un-attraction for the actress in order for my love of the character to be valid. An actress can be both attractive and talented and I can appreciate those two things separately.
I don’t even bother arguing when people say I only like Black Widow because of Scarlett Johansson anymore. Because it’s so obvious that I’m super hot for her that nobody listens to my reasons for liking the character anyway. I can explain that I love that Black Widow doesn’t have any super powers but still fights side by side with Mech Suited, Super Soldier Serum’d, and Gamma Irradiated super heroes. She uses her training, conditioning, and her mind be a Super Hero with, technically, no super powers. In Avengers she outwitted Loki, she tricked the God Of Trickery! She’s a cool character. And I think Scarlett Johansson does a great job playing the character, acting the part, she’s a talented actress. But Johansson is gorgeous and some people don’t seem to see anything past that.
The only movie that I’ve raved about without being eye rolled at is The Force Awakens. Everybody knows Daisy Ridley is beautiful and everybody agrees Rey is an awesome character. I’m super glad that we can all agree on that. I’m curious what it is about Rey that makes people agree she’s great but they roll their eyes at me when I talk about Jyn. Those are both great characters, they are both played by beautiful actresses, they’re both even Star Wars. I don’t know what the difference is.
In closing I’d like to say that it’s rude to me to assume I’m so shallow as to only like an entire movie because the lead actress is beautiful and it’s rude to the actress who contributes more to the film than just her physical appearance.
I don’t care for the harmonica. It’s fine if you like it, that’s great. But the sound it makes doesn’t appeal to me. So all my life there’s been this group of people learning and playing the harmonica and I’ve felt like they were wasting their time. When I was a child there were adults who felt the same way about computers, they were not interested in computers AT ALL and they wondered why anybody wasted their time on them.
Those people are still around. These are the people who print out all their important documents and put them in folders and filling cabinets. And you tell them, “It’s saved on the server. The server is backed up every night so it’s safe. Everything there is searchable. It’s easily shared with anybody in the company you want to share it to. Or you can protect it so nobody see’s it but you. You don’t need a filling cabinet.” And they respond, “I don’t trust the computer. It might break.” And you go on to list all the ways the printed out piece of paper might get lost, stolen, spilled on, burned up or become unreadable and they don’t care. All the things that can go wrong with their sheet of paper are things they understand and have spent a lifetime learning to protect against. The computer is a mystery, from their point of view literally ANYTHING could happen to it. A computer virus could turn all their files to jelly. So that’s scary, the unknown is scary.
Working in I.T. I get frustrated by them sometimes. They get angry because their boss wants them to use Skype for a meeting and they’d rather drive to the building the meeting is happening at. And you show up to install Skype and suddenly you’re also teaching it too them and you’re thinking to yourself, “I learned how to use skype, on my own, like ten years ago. What is even happening right now? I’m explaining that it’s like a phone but on the computer? What sin did I commit for which this is my punishment?” And then they refuse to enable to camera because “Communists might spy on me.” and you tell their boss that you installed it and showed them how to log in. Whether they enable the dang video mode in the meeting or not is beyond your control.
But then I think, “What if somebody showed up at my desk to teach me how to do something I don’t like, don’t want, and don’t think I need? What if they showed up to teach me the harmonica. What if the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying everybody harmonica’s and was forcing me to play it every day? How would that make me feel?” Obviously you and I know that there are very good reasons and benefits to using computers over typewriters and filing cabinets while there is no good reason to force an entire company to learn the harmonica. But from the point of view of people who hate computers it feels the same to them. They honestly don’t know why or believe that computers offer any benefit. So I think they feel the same about computers as I feel about harmonicas. So to empathize with them I imagine company enforced harmonica lessons.
I wrote a book! “Hi Diary”, is a story of a young lady trying to figure out life and love. Told through her diary entries, you are basically reading her diary, like a weirdo.
It’s on Amazon as an eBook and as a paperback.
and it’s on Smashwords in a variety of eBook formats https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/718831
Heroes of the Storm is launching their 2.0 update soon* and I’m pretty excited about it. I love collecting cosmetic things for my video game characters and 2.0 is bringing new stuff to amass. And it brings ways to collect them without having to spend real life money (back in my day HotS skins cost real money and we liked it!). I still won’t be good at the game but at least I’ll look good while losing!
Collecting is something that most geeks are into. We collect Funko Pops, books (both Comic and Just Words varieties), pins, cards from Magic The Gathering and other CCG’s, board games, consoles, computers, dice, stuffed animals, action figures, toys, posters, empty soda cans (when I was a child) and internet memes. And a million more things besides. When we see a set of something we only have two choices, ignore it completely or COLLECT ALL THE THINGS!
It’s weird to think about our ancestors and wonder where this desire evolved from. How was an urge to collect things helpful when we were hunter gatherers? Was there a benefit to collecting one of each mammoth bone? I can imagine it would help impress potential mates to have a full mammoth skeleton in your possession, but the tribe might get angry when you tried to carry the whole set to the next hunting camp. In fact I’m pretty sure primitive humans didn’t have a concept of ownership, which seems to make collecting things pointless. Unless everything you collected was to be shared with the tribe instead of shown off to make everyone jealous, which is why we do it today.
Of course collecting things isn’t all about impressing other people, not primarily anyway. It’s ultimately something you do for yourself. You see something you like, Legos or HotS, and you think, “How can I reach out and hug this thing I like so much?” and the answer is to collect it. To display it. To smile when you gaze upon your collection and think, “Should I arrange them alphabetically or by color?”
* As I write this it isn’t out yet, although in a weird time travel way when you read this it is already out, what’s the future like?
Work has been especially busy and stressful lately and it’s not going to get better for a while. Ordinarily I would use sick leave until the hard work was finished but this time I specifically have to do it myself. Even if I stay home sick the work will just wait until I get back. So, reluctantly, I am working hard all day.
This has me thinking about how to recharge myself in my free time. It’s important that I come to work tomorrow ready to think straight, work hard, and not scream profanities at the first person who can’t remember their password. So what’s the best way to do that?
How do you recharge your brain?
I’ve struggled with concentration all my life. And work is asking me to concentrate and focus almost all the time lately! So I’ve been looking for leisure activities that let my mind wander. The idea is that I can let myself get all my non-concentrating and un-focused thinking out of my system at home so I can buckle down and pay attention at work the next day. To do this I look for activities that occupy my brain enough to not be bored but that are easy enough that my mind is free to think about … whatever it wants. If my mind wonders about some random thing it can wander over to that thought and think about it as long as it wants or not at all. Like letting a puppy run around and smell things. I’m letting my imagination run around smelling whatever it wants. If that metaphor doesn’t make sense it’s because I lost focus halfway through this paragraph.
World of Warcraft has been a great way to let my mind wonder and wander. Doing the daily World Quests is easy and I’m basically on autopilot. Even other solo question things are fairly easy to do and free up my brain to think about whatever it wants. (Although I have noticed its thoughts are inspired by WoW.) But it’s still a thing I can do without placing any rules or constraints on my concentration. (Are there ducks in WoW? I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a duck in WoW. Sorry, random thought.)
Farming Simulator is a game I’ve played a lot of that lets my mind wander a too. It’s mostly about driving large farm machines and the act of driving around an ideal little farm space is wonderfully relaxing. And since there’s no danger of me driving into a tree or losing and arm in a giant machine in the video game my mind can wander all it wants.
Farming Simulator combines my five year old love of big machines with the peaceful tranquility of outdoor life. And the mind is free to wander when you’re basically driving in circles all day.
But there’s a completely different option other than letting my mind wander, and that’s to occupy it fully. Reading a book has been a big one for me lately. Reading demands my full attention more than watching TV does because if I lose focus the book doesn’t continue playing in the background (Unless it’s an audio book I suppose.) That extra concentration is a big deterrent to reading sometimes, if I’m tired and think I might like a nap then watching TV is the way to go. But I’ve been enjoying the fact that while reading a book my brain is sort of being guided along the path. Instead of being a hyperactive puppy running around randomly the story takes my mind on a walk and keeps it leashed so it doesn’t go off into the bushes. (I’m really enjoying the Mind Is A Puppy metaphor.)
Ultimately I don’t know which is better for recharging my batteries for work tomorrow. And there’s obviously other things like diet, exercise, and getting plenty of sleep that are important for that sort of thing too. But when I really think about what I can do to help me feel ready to face the day tomorrow it at least makes me aware of what I’m doing and how it affects me. Just paying attention to my mental state and trying to respond to what it needs probably helps a lot. Otherwise I end up at bedtime thinking, “What did I even do in my free time today? I’m not sure I did anything. I can’t go to work tomorrow, I haven’t even started recreating!”
And the boss does not give you a day off because you forgot to do anything fun last night.
When you’re a geek you’re gaming life is left largely to chance. Literally. Random numbers are a huge part of most geek games. You roll dice in D&D and table top war games and board games and even card games. Video games use random number generators that you never see to do the same thing.
What’s weird is that we play these games largely to test our analytical and strategic abilities. We spend all this time thinking up brilliant plans and maneuvering pieces into optimal positions and then hope the random numbers come out in our favor. No matter how perfect your plan is it all comes down to a little bit of chance. Is that a metaphor for life? Because if it is then that’s super depressing.
Randomness isn’t all bad, it gives us a chance to win even when we’re playing badly. And as someone who almost always plays badly that’s a really great thing. Nothing upsets your opponent more than playing poorly but winning because they rolled a one.
There are a million superstitions surrounding the random number generators. People blow their dice, or talk sweetly to them, or throw them away if they have a bad night. People roll new dice a hundred times to break them in. People yell at you if you touch their dice.
Back on the NES there was an Ultima game, Exodus maybe, that had some spell that would either do tons of damage or almost none. It seemed completely random until you realized (or read about it in Nintendo Power) that it wasn’t random at all. The enemies were animated, and by animated I mean they had two pictures and it cycled back and forth between them. In one picture their left foot was down, in the other their right foot was down. This gave them the appearance of walking in place which doesn’t seem like a very intimidating thing for monsters to do but back in my day that’s all we had and we liked it. The spells success or failure was based on which animation frame was active when you cast the spell, in other words if you pushed the button when the monsters left foot was down it succeeded brilliantly and if their right foot was down it failed. The mind blowing thing was that after hours of crossing my fingers every time I cast the spell I suddenly had complete control over it. With just a little practice I could nail it each time. Ever since I’ve been searching for patterns and tricks that would let me take control of any and all “random” things in my life. If you ever see me rolling dice and you pay attention to my feet you’ll notice I always lift my right foot. I’m always hoping that someway somehow real life is just as easy to manipulate as an 80’s video game.
I have a whole spiel on how I think life might be a giant simulation (which validates the idea that nothing in the world is truly random and maybe I can control it by lifting my right foot). Kind of like the matrix except I’m the only real human and you’re all NPC’s. But I rolled some dice before writing this post, an even roll would mean this article and odd would mean the simulation thing. So if you want to hear my simulation theory you’ll just have to hope I roll odd Tuesday night.
One day a new human shows up. (Remember this is a metaphor so lets pretend you just knew a language without having to learn it or anything. And coincidentally it’s the same language as this other human. Look, not every part of this needs to make sense, use your imagination for gosh sakes!) So this other human shows up and they tell you that there’s so much to the world that you don’t know. You argue that you pretty much know everything. You’ve been from one side of the world (Meaning the cave, you think the cave is the whole world) to the other. You’ve studied everything in the world. You know it all. Sure there’s one little ledge you can’t reach so you acknowledge that you don’t literally know everything. But from everything else you’ve seen you can pretty much guess what the ledge is like to. You imagine the ledge is like the parts of the cave you’ve seen so you obviously know basically everything. The outsider describes the sun and the moon and rain and delicious apples (I don’t know what you’ve been eating all this time but it ain’t apples. Maybe there’s a super nutritious mushroom down there, stop nit picking!) And you think the sun is just the magical dim light and the moon is also the dim light and rain must be the little rivers of water coming in through the ceiling and apples sound like mushrooms. So you confidently say that you know all that. You know everything. And it’s very rude of this other human to imply that you don’t know a lot of things because you know everything!
The other human leaves, maybe because they know how to get out of the cave and they want to get back to the rest of the world or maybe it’s because you were kind of a jerk.
On your fortieth birthday (You don’t know what a calendar is so you don’t know it’s your fortieth birthday it’s just an amazing coincidence, okay? Sheesh!) you finally manage to climb up to that one ledge you could never reach. You’ve been working on that this whole time because what else is there to do? And now you’ve finally made it to the ledge. And you find the exit to the cave.
You walk outside and find the sun and the moon and the rain and the apples and all the things that other human told you about and more! The world is so much bigger than you ever imagined! And you’re only know starting to see it.
And so it is with aging. When I was 23 I thought I knew everything, or could accurately guess at the things I hadn’t experienced like being a brain surgeon or a vampire hunter. But as I get older I see that there are things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. Or there are things I thought I knew but I knew them wrong or insufficiently. What I know now is that I didn’t know what I thought I knew! And now I know enough to know that I know very little or maybe nothing. Because now I know, at least I have an idea, that what there is to know is so vast that my knowledge is a tiny little sliver of it all. And even what I think I know might be wrong.
“The ancient oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing.” – Socrates
If wisdom is knowing that you know nothing then I am almost as wise as Socrates. At least I assume so from that one quote of his that I remember.
When I was younger caffeinated soda and pizza and chips were the foods of choice for any big gaming session. Nowadays it’s trail mix and water if it’s after 4 pm. Times change I suppose.
In High School pizza was the default food. If you had people over for D&D or a LAN party you’d order pizza no questions asked. The only debate was what toppings to get. Nowadays if you’re gaming with others they have all kinds of whacky ideas like Chinese Food or Mexican Food or home cooked food or the craziest idea of all; pausing the games to go eat at a restaurant. Pause the game and go somewhere? MADNESS!!!
But I admit that as I’ve gotten older I’ve had to cut back on pizza and have started to make healthier choices. There was a brief period around my thirtieth birthday where I healthied it up but getting pizza with vegetables on it. But at a certain point you have to look at a giant circle of melted cheese and wonder if putting a couple slices of tomatoes on top is really accomplishing anything. The first time I got heartburn after eating pepperoni pizza at midnight I thought I was dying, not because I mistook the discomfort for something fatal but because I realized I was becoming my father.
Of course a lot of my gaming sessions are done online now so everybody can eat whatever they want in their own homes. As long as you mute your microphone while you chew you can eat anything. Although I think it’s pretty funny when I’m enjoying the fact that I don’t have to come to an agreement with everybody and then we find out we’re all just eating pizza anyway.
Trailmix is a great gaming snack that is reasonably healthy too. Although I often buy a bag of M&M’s and mix some in to increase the chocolate to everything else ratio. It’s makes it less healthy sure but hey, I’m still getting some nutrition from the raisins and the nuts even if they are spread thin among the candy. Take your wins where you can get them.
Pretty much every Sunday morning I get up and play a video game (often World of Warcraft but the game changes periodically) with a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of Earl Grey tea. Younger me would have had leftover, cold pizza and a Pepsi. But to be honest that isn’t even appealing anymore. I enjoy my morning oatmeal and tea. Perhaps I’m becoming more sophisticated as I age. That’s certainly the way I’m going to spin it. I’m not old, I’m sophisticated.