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My oh my, hasn't it been a long while since we had a go at this. With this new Wednesday deadline, I should be much more reliable this time around. Here's to at least 10 more topics! Roleplaying games, it's been a little while, but I can put together something here.
I guess I've had a fair amount of experience in tabletop RPGs. Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 and 4th ed., Shadowrun, and PDQ among the most common games I've played.
Loved playing, tried my hand at being a dungeon master, and I was very bad at it. It requires a particularly organized and detail-oriented person to make a good campaign and make it exciting. My campaigns were easily derailed or were far too rail-roaded to be of any entertainment value. Also, transitioning from D&D3.5 to d20 Modern/Future is not very clean.
No, my love was in the lore and the backstory. I always loved getting into a new universe and reading up on everything I could find, then trying to create my own stories within. This lead to an obsession when I first encountered Shadowrun. Shadowrun came "preloaded" with detailed backstory, and as a bonus based on near-future events (however fantastical they might be).
Shadowrun's lore was a beautiful creation. Following our current reality's history until the turning point of December 21st, 2012 (why yes, that is the end of the Mayan Calendar that happened less than 3 weeks prior. DAMN, no real-life Shadowrun universe!). So yes, the end of the Mesoamerican Longcount Calendar was meaningful, creating a new "world", where magic has returned to earth and many humans have begun morphing into "fantasy" races, like elves, dwarves, and orcs.
With the future, though, naturally comes technology. A manner of "Matrix"-esque computer network as been developed, where people may link directly into network through commlinks, either a head-mounted device or a direct implant giving access to the matrix as a full virtual reality or an augmentation of reality via the "Personal Area Network".
The global political structure has been greatly changed, with governments dividing and reorganizing around different political ideologies or ethnic groups or megacorporations. North America has split into the Confederation of American States, the United Canadian and American States, the Native American Nations (now that Native Americans have gotten all their magic back), Tír Tairngire (A nation founded by the Elves), the California Free State (because they wanted to), and Aztlan (used to be Mexico, but now owned by Aztechnology Megacorp [an awful pun]). Megacorporations now have power and influence rivaling or even exceeding that of actual governments in matters of economy, society, and military.
The most powerful of these Megacorporations have extraterritoriality, employees considered citizens of the corporation itself (on top of their nation-state citizenship), and conflicts not just in business negotiations, but cyberwars waged by expendable combatants (known as "Shadowrunners", the role played by players) inside and outside of the matrix aimed at causing actually destruction to assets or personnel. These cyber-combatants are typically augmented by technical implants or genetically engineered, ability-enhancing replacement body parts, and are well-known for getting dirty jobs done.
A beautiful, complete world. Detailed beyond my ability to portray in a short blog post. So inspiring. I've participated in a couple campaigns, but the lore has fascinated me more than participating in sessions. I created characters just to fuel my own fiction within the game's universe.
Most of my experiences with roleplaying games haven't been in playing them. While I enjoy a good, engaging campaign, I would much prefer to derive inspiration from the realms they live in. This might not have been quite what I had in mind from the beginning of my post, but I've rekindled my passion for these kinds of things.
Good night, world.
The delay in this topic actually gave me some good ideas for it. A hard day at work is good for this kind of topic. This will probably be a list of things and a short explanation.
- I have a strong distaste for silverware touching a bare table. And I mean actual metal silverware. Plasticware is fine, it's disposable, but I find metal on a bare table rather dirty. My friends know this pet peeve well, as I make a point to put all the utensils on a plate or on a napkin or something, and they screw with me about it.
- Not recycling. Especially so if there's a recycling bin nearby. I mean, honestly, how hard is it? Throwing non-biodegradable things into the garbage dumps does no one any good, reuse them, it's probably cheaper in the long run anyway.
- Taking too many napkins. I work at a food court in a wholesale store. I have to refill the napkin dispensers far to often, because people take a 2cm tall stack when they only need maybe 2 or 3. What a waste, getting their grubby hands all over too many napkins. I'm such a stickler about being efficient and minimalistic.
- Leaving a mess in a public place. ARGH! Especially making a very large mess and not saying anything about it. I get very busy, and I rarely get much of a chance to clean up the tables and counters outside of where I make the food, but when I do get the chance, it's like a hurricane passed through. Don't pass the burden of your own waste on to me, you're not 5 years old, at least try to clean up after yourselves.
- Not putting things back where you found them. This is freaking everywhere. It's not hard, and not doing it just screws up the organizational system. I swear, some people do it on purpose. Don't put the chocolate milk back with the diet cokes, that's just wrong.
- Stopping in the middle of a walkway or street for no good reason. My family does this, assholes do this all the time. They stop to figure out what the hell they're doing, and everyone else has to maneuver around them. Or on some streets where trucks will just stop in the road to deliver some large delivery, or someone just stops they're car to chat with someone. Just get out of the way, step to the side, go park somewhere, anything but be in everyone's way.
- Middle- and High-school orchestras, bands, and choirs being obviously out of tune. It makes me cringe, especially when my brother was in the upper-level orchestra in high school and so many people were out of tune, because their orchestra teacher couldn't tune a tambourine. I had to walk out on several occasions because I just couldn't stand to listen to it. BE IN TUNE, DAMN IT!
- Going to comic conventions and dealers not having their stock in alphabetical order. Most of the time, I'm looking for something in particular, and when I'm not, and I stumble upon something interesting, I want all the other associated things to be right next to it. This is particularly bad when I'm looking for issues of Cable vol 1 that I don't have yet, because nobody ever keeps them all together. Deadpools can be bad like that too.
- Going to comic conventions, and other people stand right on top of me the whole time, and then will grab things out of my hands randomly. Two anecdotes:
- One guy literally followed me around the room to every damn dealer and stood right next to me the whole time. Now, this was a black guy, and every time I found something that had a black guy on the cover, he really had to have it. Took me until the next show to find that Barack Obama: 1st 100 Days one-off he took from me. I mean, it wasn't that important, I just thought it was nifty and wanted a copy.
- While digging through one dealer's boxes (which had no organization what-so-ever, mind you, so I had to go through every freaking box), this fat douchebag walks up, and he smells so bad I can smell him from the other side of the table. Now, I do have a really good nose, but even my friend with a stuffed-up nose could smell him that far away. He proceeded to talk about how he was unemployed and poor as dirt and stuff like that. I really wanted to tell him that, rather than buying comics, he should pay his water bill so he could take a damn shower.
I think that covers the really big ones. Not terribly odd for the most part, but not really all that common either.
Well, might as well start calling me Mr. Dirty McHypocrite. Weekends seem to be giving me trouble lately, might need to ask to have these posts moved to Fridays. Anyway, here we go, response time.
My five choices are:
-the 30-year-old pregnant woman
-the young male architect
-the young female nurse
-the young female astronaut
-the young male schoolteacher
Let's first begin with:
Why I Did Not Choose the Others
-Farmer, Doctor, Bank President, Philosopher, Grandmother
Mostly age related. I'm trying to go for longevity here, and their ages put them a bit outside the range needed to reproduce. And the philosopher and the grandmother don't likely have applicable skills, either. I've seen some people pick the doctor for the medical expertise, but I think the nurse could fill that role well enough for the circumstances and then she's also of child-bearing age.
-Minister, Attorney, Executive, Bank President, Chemist, Philosopher, Tennis Player, Nun, Sci-Fi Writer
Little or no skills directly applicable to survival, or skills that can be covered by another. Religion is going to be pretty useless, no offense to the religious out there. It's not a priority to survival, and I'd rather keep people of use on the team, so the minister and nun are out. Business, economics, and law will also be non-priority fields, so that scratches off the attorney, executive, and bank president. The chemist's knowledge is comparatively narrow and probably secondary, so can be sufficiently covered by another with broader knowledge. Philosophy isn't applicable, tennis isn't applicable, writing isn't applicable.
Too young, bring no skills to the table. Simple enough reasons to disregard them. Unless the teenager is the Kwisatz Haderach or the baby is a Bene Gesserit abomination, but this is highly unlikely considering Earth's lack of melange or Bene Gesserit.
Now this one might surprise some people. He has a lot of practical knowledge and agriculture will probably be a big deal on Neo-Earth. But my issues arise in that all his agricultural knowledge is based on fauna and climate specific to wherever on Earth he came from. If he was a corn farmer from Iowa, and the wormhole dropped them on a tropical island, his skills are then not applicable. Furthermore, his knowledge is based in terrestrial flora, and probably flora specific to his locale. His remaining skills are either trivial or can be covered by another.
I think that sufficiently covers that, so let's move on to:
Why I Made My Choices
Initial Assumption #1: those with listed careers are well trained in their fields and have necessary qualifications plus practical experience.
Initial Assumption #2: all 20 options have the capability to verbally communicate with one another effectively.
-Two men, three women
I initially considered a team consisting of one man and four women, which would give potential for a large set of first-generation offspring, but then ran into the issue of genetic diversity and not having a (subjectively) good choice for a fourth female or for a single male. And not to be chauvinistic, but having 1 male is a potentially limited workforce. I'm sure the Astronaut is physically fit, and I could probably include a fourth woman of good physical fitness in choosing the tennis player, but the general trend of men being physically stronger than women means I'm most likely to be given a set of the 20 listed who fit this trend. I could be wrong, certainly, but I can't make that assumption.
-Fertility and Longevity
Assuming by saying "young" they mean in their 20's (since they listed the pregnant woman as specifically 30 years old instead of young), this puts the pregnant woman as the oldest person on the team, and given a current global life expectancy of 67.2 years, the whole team would live for another 40 years or so. This was a big influence on my choices, and the reason why I tended to exclude the middle aged. Similarly, younger females means the capacity to potentially produce more children before the onset of menopause, and having a larger first-generation offspring pool will significantly improve chances of long-term survival. Repopulation is critical.
-Learning Through Experience vs. Wisdom
I know I'm throwing a bunch of younger adults into an unknown world alone with less life experience than some of the older choices, but honestly, I'd rather have a set of more practical skills and longevity than practical wisdom which could probably be gained through experience anyway. It wouldn't be the smoothest or most pleasant way to learn how to live life, but it'll happen one way or another.
I tried to pick the best-educated team as possible with the hope that with education comes common sense. From knowing trivial things like "don't eat this pointy thing" and "it didn't work the first time so let's not waste time trying again" to more essential things like "we're going to need a stable food source ASAP" and "there are probably dangerous things out there, let's find a way to defend ourselves". These are probably bad examples of what I actually want to say, but I think they work good enough. This essentially boils down to Educated ⇒ ¬Stupid (Educated implies not-Stupid)
-The Pregnant Woman
A female of child-bearing age and proven fertility. She also provides another half set of DNA to further genetic diversity, which will be essential to survival in the long run. I think these reasons are self-evident and qualification enough for inclusion.
He has a lot of skills that would help with, well, making things. He has knowledge of mathematics, materials, surveying, planning, design, public safety, construction, engineering, and the list goes on. If it needs to be built, and it certainly will be, he'll probably have it covered.
I chose the nurse over the doctor for a couple reasons. Firstly being young and female rather than older and male, thus she can bear children. Secondly, the doctor may be over qualified for the conditions. He won't have access to the drugs or medical equipment he had in practice on Earth, and I believe the nurse will have enough knowledge of medicine to sufficiently diagnose and remedy any illness or injury that could reasonably be treated on Neo-Earth (i.e. she knows generally how to treat the flu or mend a broken bone, but even if she could recognize cancer, there's nothing she or the doctor could really do about it anyway). Her expertise will also be very helpful during childbirth.
Young female, physically fit, probably heavy labour capable, likely with a scientific background. NASA requires Mission Commanders, Pilots, and Specialists to have a bachelor's degree in Engineering, Biological Science, Physical Science, or Mathematics, and all astronauts must complete basic training including courses in Life Support Systems, Orbital Mechanics, Payload Deployment, Earth Observations, and Space Physiology and Medicine, giving her a massive repertoire of knowledge that can be used in multitudes of practical situations requiring problem solving, analysis, and plan execution. The medical knowledge, while less practical than that of the nurse, also gives her a foundation to fill in as a secondary medical expert for the group. Hell, she could fill in as a secondary anything, a great asset.
May be surprising to some, may not be to others. Young male, another well-rounded asset with some experience with mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and grammatics, and the primary educator when the first-generation reaches schooling age. His background of effective teaching methods puts him in a useful position as a problem solver, communicator, and diplomat. Thinking more about it as I'm writing, he'd probably make a great coordinator and generalized leader. If any of the readers have played Dwarf Fortress, he's the member of the starting 7 with all the social skills (Judge of Intent, Persuader, Negotiator, Consoler, Pacifier, etc.). This is assuming, however, that he's actually a good teacher to begin with.
This was far and away the hardest topic for me to write a response for because of a number of reasons, foremost of which is the heavy workload from school eating a large portion of my time (but at least the rest of my degree will be a piece of cake after this term is through).
But more relevant, first impressions have been a rather peculiar topic for me. Of course I want to play the fair, tolerant person and say "don't judge a book by its cover", but to be honest, first impressions weigh rather heavily in my opinion of someone.
Because in my opinion, it does really matter. If I'm put off by someone initially, then, well, it's probably something in their personality that will continue to off-putting in the future, even though I do try to keep it for defining the person in my mind. I believe in second chances, and third chances, ad infinitum, because people are just that complex. There's always more to a person than what you already know. I mean, I don't even think parents know everything about their kids, or twins who've spent their lives side by side know everything about each other.
First impressions themselves are important. They set the tone of human interaction from initial contact, whether we want them to or not. But what we can control is how long and how heavily they affect our overall impressions.
While I do find first impressions important, their importance should wane with time. Or rather, I suppose I should say that overall impression should be fluid. What you consider important should be subject to change as you get to know someone, and getting to know someone should extend farther than a first impression, even if that first impression is bad. Yes, consider them, but let them be the first line of interaction, not the last.
But then there's another side to it. We should be aware of how we present ourselves to new acquaintances. This is where I, uh, for lack of a better term, fall apart.
I've recently began utilizing dating-oriented sites. Some of the results from this have had me reviewing my self-presentation.
In one case, I presented myself very conservatively. A short statement about myself, some likes and dislikes, what I'm doing with my life, and a general idea of what I'm looking for in a partner. After 4 months or so, I've had very few interested viewers, and those I've taken interest in haven't been very responsive.
In the other case, I was more aggressive in my self-description. I was honest about my views and my strengths and weaknesses, and gave a good description of what I like and dislike in a partner, ran the whole gamut. A bit more response from those I took interest in, but the vast majority of conversations ended quickly.
It boils down to finding an honest balance, I guess, which I have yet to find. Sort of like effective marketing. You can't get where you want to be underselling yourself, not revealing enough to be assessed by others, but at the same time you can't get somewhere by listing everything about you, good and bad; it's "too honest", I guess to say.
It's an interesting test of self-understanding to think about both how we react to first impressions and how we present ourselves to others at introduction. This was a good chance for introspection, to be honest. I intend on working on this balance, since I've had that "settling down" urge recently, and attracting a mate is kinda essential in that, assuming I find time in between schoolwork, employment, and trying not to slay myself.
Well this was fun, even if it was terribly long in the making. We'll try to get back to our biweekly schedule as well as possible. Really sorry for the delay, everyone! My bad!
Well, it's time to roll out my first topic post following the creation of our Facebook Page, so now I've gotta step it up a notch for an expanded audience.First thing I'd like to touch on is what we've lost. Most of this might just be my furry side talking, but I'm curious as to why we gave up fur/hair and tails. They seems so useful. What a boon to stay warm all the time and have another appendage for balance. Looking back at the genus Homo, H. habilis is usually depicted as having a lot of hair over his whole body, and the Australopithicines, the direct ancestors of Homo, are generally rather hairy like most other hominids (bonobos, chimps, gorillas).
I was inspired to pick this topic because of having my wisdom teeth removed. It's been a bit of a joke of mine to say I'm more evolved than most other people because I only have (well...had) 2 wisdom teeth, and therefore only needed to have 2 removed instead of the typical 4, like everyone else.
This got me to thinking about the rest of our features, where they came from, and where they're going. This means I'm gonna make a list of things regarding our evolution, because I've come to terms with the fact that I have serious problems with making long trains of thought comprehensible to others. This might make this post a bit short. This and I'm still on painkillers and other pills and didn't have a lot of time to think this through over the past few days.
I'd like to say that more recent developments might have been mildly detrimental to our evolution. Civilization in general has kinda made "survival of the fittest" less of a factor in our genetics. Most other mammals as highly social as humans don't really form groups larger than maybe 120 individuals (I'm guessing at this number for the purpose of ratios, but I think it might be rather accurate for at least most primates). With a smaller group, the loss of one individual causes a noticeable gap in the work force, and therefore groups producing more weak members is more likely to fail, while groups producing fewer weak members is more likely to prosper.
When humans began forming large groups, in the hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions, one death doesn't affect the workforce as much, meaning more weak individuals can survive because there are enough strong enough links among enough people to support most of the population.
I really, really hate to word this the way I'm going to, and I wish it weren't such a relevant point. Our ability as a society to provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves, for whatever reason, is probably evolutionarily disadvantageous.
Let's look at a couple things here:
Consider a lower-class family. Nothing really wrong there in essences, although there may be a factor of lower capacity for learning, but it's absolutely not a given. It might just be that the providers in the family fill the economically necessary roll of low-skill workers. Stay with me here. Now, consider this family has a large number of children, enough that their income cannot nearly support them. In an isolated situation, the family either trains to perform a more highly-skill job and make enough money to support them, or they proceed to "implode" under the weight of biting off more than they can chew and perish. However, modern civilization has welfare, and thanks to government funding, the family can provide for their children. Thus the family survives, and passes on a propensity to over-reproduce beyond their means to support unassisted.
Consider a situation less psychological and more physical. In the frame of my recent wisdom teeth removal, dentistry is self-perpetuating. Having teeth form in problematic way would normally be a poor trait to pass on. If one's teeth come in crooked and are so difficult to keep clean, they'll eventually rot and fall out or cause a serious infection, both of which would usually result in death, either by starvation or disease. But now we have dentistry and orthodontics. Every 6 months (which is what they say to do, and to be honest, is probably a good idea) we go to get our teeth cleaned real good and get cavities filled and what not, and thus our teeth remain mostly healthy and in our mouth, kept straight with braces if need, and thus aren't a problem. Ergo, we pass on a propensity for poor dental health.
Looking to the future, technology is hopefully going to progress to a point where evolution is completely irrelevant. Again, we've created medical fields to cure or treat nearly any malady (Cancer, heart disease, psychological disorders), and we've developed antidotes to most poisons, and immunizations to many debilitating diseases. We're extending the lives of human beings, and some sources predict we'll cure aging in the coming decades, meaning we'll never die of natural causes, on top of the fact that we have several millenia of breeding a propensity for longer life-spans.
And then we hit "technological singularity", the point at which we create computers that can learn faster than humans, use the knowledge to make itself more efficient, then learn yet faster and repeat into eternity and technological advancement accelerates to an unimaginable pace. One of the things I look forward to is the complete mapping of the human brain. Once we can map the human brain, we can reproduce it in the form of a computer. We should then have the knowledge to transfer the contents of a human brain to said computer, making us digital beings.
This is where human evolution, for lack of a less ironic word, becomes extinct. When we become digital, we don't need a body, we don't need air, we don't need food, we don't need anything but a power source, and something to protect the computer in which we reside (and a back-up probably wouldn't be a bad idea either). When we become digital, we don't even need to be humans necessarily! Think of it like The Matrix, but hopefully with more beneficent sentient machines as our "overseers", allowing us to form our own world around us.
I think that's enough pointless ranting at this point.
To all our new readers this week, welcome. I hope you've enjoyed this first insight into my scattered, overimaginative mind and are willing to read some more weekly. To all of our continuing readers, thank you for keeping with us and giving your comments and feedback. You've set the foundation for our growing readership, and we hope you keep reading and pass on the word.
so our official contests are getting little attention that I'm aware
of, and I happen to have a bit of time to spare, so I'm gonna start a
little side-blog project where I review video games, or movies, or
books, or what have you. It might not be regular, and it will
probably be quite informal, but it's something fun for me to write
besides just contest posts (thereby ceasing to be a lame
we'll kick off the series with a relatively new game called Rocksmith
(for PC, PS3, and 360).
Guitar Hero and Rock Star are absurdly popular games which
popularized the music video game genre. Playing guitar on one of
these games involved picking up a plastic, guitar-shaped controller
with 5 "fret" buttons, a bar to "strum" with, and
a whammy bar for sounding cool and getting more points (or being
annoying when playing online by simply holding it down, playing the
song out of tune).
two franchises have been praised for inspiring kids to learn to play
real guitar, but they don't really help the learning process. The
skills just don't transfer from video-game to picking strings.
is where Rocksmith comes in. Rocksmith is similar to Guitar Hero and
Rock Band in that you play along with the music as it appears on the
screen, but it uses an entirely different control scheme. Instead of
a plastic guitar with some buttons, you plug an electric guitar (a
real electric guitar) into your system.
sure most everyone is familiar with the Guitar Hero interface: 5
colour-coded columns with little blips (circles or rectangles or
whatever) that scroll down from the top indicating which button to
press when it hits the bottom, kinda similar to Dance Dance
does generally the same thing, but instead of 5 columns, there are
about 24, one for each fret on a guitar, and it has 6 of these
columns stacked vertically, one for each string on a guitar.
Yes, very much so. I've played the game for a week now and I still
get tripped up. But I really can't think of a better visual interface
than this, besides maybe scrolling tableture, but that might be more
confusing due to fewer visual signals.
game is really angled toward players who've got limited to no
experience playing guitar. That doesn't mean it's exclusively for
them, but knowing how to play guitar then 1) tackling the interface
and 2) being patient while the game treats you like a child (because
you can't just say "hey, I've played guitar before, let me go")
is a bit of a challenge unrelated to the music or instrument
game starts off setting up your guitar. You strum really hard for a
while to check that the volume is high enough, you go through tuning
the strings, then you play a few quick notes to get the feel of it,
tells you how to fret strings, so on.
this, you enter the meat of the game: a sort of story mode. Unlike
Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you have access to nearly all of the songs
from the beginning, but for the purposes of the story mode they are
presented to you in order generally from easier to harder. The story
mode consists of being given 2-5 songs (there may be more past where
I am not, not sure) to practice, which you must perform to a certain
score, and then you play them all in an event. Playing an event
particularly will give you an encore song to play (and then
periodically there will be a double encore).
guitarists might get a bit frustrated with the pace of the game. At
the very beginning, the game gives you only a couple notes to play
each measure. Rocksmith does have the interesting feature of dynamic
difficulty, however, where the game will make certain parts of the
song harder the better you play them until you're pretty much playing
the actual song. It takes a couple play-throughs with the easier
songs to max them out (I've played "(I Can't Get No)
Satisfaction 4 or 5 times and I'm nearly maxed), and several more
with more difficult songs, but the great thing is that it does this
while you're playing the song (which is also a pain when it really
bumps up the power during an event
and it throws you a bit. Suddenly I'm supposed to be shredding, which
I can't do. Yet). It's not uncommon to miss a couple notes and watch
some upcoming notes disappear.
good selection of songs, although a lot of them are a bit obscure.
There's a broad range of styles represented. Pop-ish songs (like
"Well OK Honey" by Jenny O.), grunge songs ("In Bloom"
by Nirvana), classic rock (3 Rolling Stones songs, "Boys Don't
Cry" by The Cure), and some southern rock ("Use Somebody"
by Kings of Leon). There's also a good spread of difficulty, from
simple alt rock songs ("Song 2" by Blur) to prolific guitar
pieces ("Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream).
read from some sites that Ubisoft intends to have an "aggressive
DLC [Downloadable Content] schedule". Since the game's release
in October, there have been 15 downloadable songs released in 5
3-song "packs": 3 "Rock Hits" packs, a Megadeth
song pack (for those metal fans out there), and a free holiday song
pack. I don't consider 15 songs in 3 months to be “aggressive”,
but I'm sure it will pick up as the game gets more attention and can
get more licensing deals for songs.
also heard tell of a plan to release an update to introduce support
for electric bass, although I'm not finding this through any official
channel, so while this would be an awesome addition to the game, I'm
not sure of its validity. Bass support would open up the game to more
people and more songs, and I'd love to see it come to fruition.
I'd Like to See
few things I'd like to see, bands and songs and such.
Beatles. There are 3 Rolling Stones songs, but no Beatles. Their
catalog is vast, and I can think of a number of songs that would be
dynamite for guitarists new and old to learn. I'd love to have “Back
in the USSR” available, personally.
Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee are prolific with the guitar and bass
respectively, and I'd think it a travesty to not include a Rush song
in the track list of this game. Great material to help master the
guitar and (if they include the update) bass, and then even even
better for playing in odd and/or changing time signatures (thanks to
the also prolific Neil Peart). “Circumstances” would be cool, or
“Spirit of Radio”, their catalog is probably as large as if not
larger than the Beatles, and there are nigh endless songs to pick
from. Imagine playing all of “2112” as an event!
Matthews Band. Dave Matthews has written some great guitar pieces,
and they're quite challenging in their full form. “Ants Marching”
or “What Would You Say” are two gems that come to mind.
Especially suiting for guitarists more interested in acoustic-guitar
For no other reason besides wanting to play “War Machine”. That
solo would be interesting.
or Poison or Twisted Sister or Cinderella or Mötley Crüe or some
other glam metal band. Gotta represent. Hell, I want to rock out to
“Final Countdown” by Europe.
I think that'll finish up my post on this for now. I think my next review will be on Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, since I've been having such a fun time playing it recently.
Let me just begin by admitting that I'm not terribly fond of holidays in general. I mean, the idea of a day or two of extra vacation to break the monotony of daily life is nice and to recognize a particular person or event or something, but most other things about them just seem a bit excessive to me. Not exactly sure where any of my readers are from in particular, but people I come in contact with seem to blow every holiday out of proportion. Christmas has been commercialized to hell and back, despite the insistence of many that it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ (whereas the gift-giving aspect was lifted from Saturnalia, a "pagan" holiday celebrated in ancient Rome at about the same time of year). And for gods' sake, I've had enough of the commercials for giving new cars for Christmas and all the same damn songs being played over and over again for a month. Why do we need a whole month of that?
Now, this is not to say I'm a "Scrooge" or anything, people are certainly entitled to their beliefs and practices, but it just seems so superficial and intrusive. Half of the customers I served today wished me a "Merry Christmas". Yeah, ok, but what if I didn't celebrate Christmas? (I actually did tell some of them that I practice Judaism, just to see their response, none of whom replied beyond, "Oh, sorry," thus furthering my point) And the pressure of buying gifts is rather too much for me. I tend to be too calculative about it, and trying to balance nice, meaningful, useful gifts with expenditures per person. And then I tend to be forgetful. I got home today and realized I hadn't gotten anything for my sister and her husband or any of my grandparents, which had me running out and getting cop-out gifts like gift cards and lottery tickets, which I'll continue to brood about for the next several days.
I remember as a kid, up until about 15 years old or so, I would be so excited about Christmas, and I would have a hard time falling asleep, then my brother and I would wake up at 4 or 5 am and sneak downstairs and look at all the gifts around the tree, waiting for our parents to get up. It would be something for me to look forward to as the first good chunk of school finished up for the year. I think I've become more humble since then, since I usually don't think of it much different than any other day and the rest of my family will have to wake me up, because I don't really like receiving gifts and all the hubbub associated. Heck, I get mad at my friends for getting me birthday presents even. I feel that receiving gifts from them is wasted effort on their part. I don't want anything, I don't need anything, I like being as independent and self-sufficient and self-gratifying as possible. Honestly, give me the gift of not giving me a gift, I'll feel so much better that way.
Ok, enough ranting about my anti-social mentality.
For the vast majority of my Christmases, it's been a "Do this stuff in the morning at home then visit some relatives for a bit" thing. One Christmas, though, I guess I was about 5 years old, maybe 4, it's far enough back that I can't remember exactly. No, I'm mistaken, I must have been 4 because my little brother hadn't been born yet. Well, my paternal grandparents usually keep a second home, at least as long as I can recall, my grandmother works in real estate (still now in her 70s). At the time they owned a small house in New Hampshire. I had gone up a couple days earlier with them and my parents and sister had come on Christmas Eve.
The drive up was it's own adventure. I made it a challenge to stay awake for the whole drive there, but I didn't quite make it to Vermont before falling asleep. 4-year-olds can only stay up so long on a 10-hour-drive (including stops) that ended some time around midnight.
Spending time with my grandparents usually consisted of playing a lot of board and card games. Considering I really didn't spend much time with my father's parents except for some of these kinds of multiple-day instances (as opposed to visiting my mother's parents nigh weekly), that was special in its own right.
I actually remember the layout of that house quite vividly, even though I was only there the one time and I was so young. And I remember the Christmas tree having a model train around it, which was pretty cool at the time. Hell, it's pretty cool now. I'm pretty certain that's the only time that's happened under one of my family's trees.
I only remember two gifts from that Christmas, although they really weren't as big of a deal as the day and situation. I got a Mr. Bucket (which I wish I still had around just for hilarity's sake) and a whole bunch of Domino Rally stuff (because I was really into that kind of stuff at that point in time).
I dunno, that's one of the more unique Christmas experiences I've had. The rest I can only really recall by what kinds of things I got (several being connected to video games, like the year I got my first GameBoy), which makes me feel very petty looking back on it, but almost all the other Christmases were rather similar in structure.
Not so special, but it's all I got. My solution is essentially to pick a topic that I can post the hell out of for the next topic.
Anyway, I wish you all a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Sleep well tonight and enjoy your vacation.
Bear with me on this post, I'm writing this in between 2 double shifts at work. It's brutal. This might seem like a pointless rant with no real logical background, and that's because it probably is.
This topic was inspired by this news article
, which had me thinking about school uniforms again. Well, ok, I already have a firm stance on that topic, and in my mind, it's been analyzed to hell and back. So instead, I decided to think about private schooling, and how it compares to public school or home school.
I went to public school for the most part. Half of 5th grade and all of 6th grade I went to a private Quaker school, but all the rest was plain old public.
The time I went to that Quaker school were probably the best of my schooling. There were only a few dozen students in the whole school, and my class, which was 4th, 5th, and 6th grade was only 7 students, with a few more who only attended one or two days in the week. It was a great contrast to the Octorara School District, which for some odd reason put 5th grade in the Intermediate school with 6th-8th, and I'm pretty sure I'm among the reasons that changed a year later, because I had all the guidance counselors and all of the principals saying I needed to go to another school for a while, and later that year they had a few other students switch to private schools also.
Anyway, it was rather leisurely. A lot less pressure, a lot more personal attention from teachers, and I honestly became a better student because of it. For the one term I went back to Octorara Middle School before I moved to another school district, I actually pulled straight A's. It did a lot of good things for me.
But there are some parts I didn't like. For one, I was kinda stuck to the levels of study of everyone else in my class. If I haven't said it elsewhere yet, I don't have an average intelligence level, I was doing math and reading several grade levels ahead of average. So I was stuck doing 4th-, 5th- and 6th-grade math when I should have been doing pre-algebra, similarly for reading. I also kind of discouraged from pursuing higher-level studies on the side while at school. I probably could have been learning some new stuff at my level when I was told to go outside for recess or whatever. It seemed like a lot of wasted time in return for the less stressful atmosphere.
Ok, so, enough of my little backstory there, and on to some kind of response now.
I think, all-in-all, public school is the best option for the average child.
Home-schooling, in my opinion, doesn't give enough social interaction in the school setting. Yeah, there's no bullying, and your child won't get exposed to all the popular/unpopular stuff or the differences in intelligence stuff, but in reality, being able to deal with these things is going to be important later in life. Home-schooling is just...well...I guess it's overprotective. One of my ex-girlfriends was home-schooled, and she was pretty maladjusted, which is why that relationship turned out ugly. A family who once lived across the street from mine home-schooled all of their children, and they're...uh...not kids I'd be proud of. So from my experience, it doesn't really end well.
Private schools just seem superfluous. I mean, yeah, I went to a private school for a year and a half, and it did good things for me, but staying there longer would have just been terrible, holding me back and suppressing my potential. It's like spending extra money for no real benefit. Religious schools especially. I never understood those. So your kid is taking classes on religion and learning in a really strict environment and whatnot, what's that really doing for them? They're not getting realistic social interaction at school and they're stressed out more than usual. Money well spent there, making life harder with no significant positive result. No offense to any of my readers, but that just seems stuck-up to me, spending money to say you sent your kid to a school that charges money.
The only major downside I find with public schools is funding. Funding for schools is poorly distributed. I had the benefit of attending most of middle and high school in a very well funded school district, and I know that's not the case elsewhere. I really do believe that a well funded public school system would produce the best scholastic results. You have a diverse student body (as an accurate representation of the local community), with genuine social interaction, fewer superfluous classes and restrictions, the freedom to take classes at an appropriate level for your abilities, and it's pretty much free (you pay the taxes either way). As long as the school has the funding to provide up-to-date, complete education in at least the essential subjects (Math, Physical Science, Social Science, and English grammar and composition) and preferably secondary subjects (like Home Economics, Arts, Technology, Foreign Language, etc.), then there's no real reason to home-school or pay for a private school.
I dunno, I picked this topic not expecting to have to write this post in much haste because of work. Hopefully this doesn't look like crap...
I can honestly say that this is probably the hardest topic yet. That probably seems very odd to a lot of people, but after a week of thinking on it, I seem to have come to the conclusion that I don't really have a good role model at this point in my life.
Now, of course, every kid looks up to someone. As a kid, a lot of my role models were hockey players or martial artists.
I've loved the sport of ice hockey for most of my life. It's a fast, skill-intensive, highly-physical sport, and I always wanted to play it, but my family could never afford the equipment or the lessons or the league fees and whatnot, nor could they really dedicate much time to it with both of them working. But I dreamed to one day play like Mikael Renberg or Wayne Gretzky or Dominik Hasek or Patrick Roy or any of the other greats of the late 90s/early 00s.
Baseball was a slow game and at the time was dominated by players jacked up on steroids (I remember watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa break Roger Maris's single-season home-run record in 1998). Soccer is also slow and rather spread out. American football is a series of 10-second plays followed by 30-second breaks, and there's like 40 people on the field at once. But hockey was fast and more constant than those, require higher skill in more areas than those applied almost constantly. And it had a penalty box. No sport is a real sport unless it has a sin bin.
I started training in martial arts when I was 8, specifically Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art developed rather recently as a combination of many different fields (some hand to hand, some grappling, some staff, some knife). I always had a lot of respect and admiration for those who earned their black belt. It seems like a monumental feat. After a year I transferred into a studio that was part of the World Tang Soo Do Association. The WTSDA's Grandmaster, Jae Chul Shin, was a brilliant man. We all read a short biography in the student's manual, but it alone spoke of a great person. He studied martial arts in South Korea for many years, taught martial arts across South Korea, earned his bachelors and masters degrees in Political Science, taught at the university level, joined the South Korean Air Force (where he would train Carlos Ray Norris, better known as the immortal Chuck Norris), and (co-)founded two
Tang Soo Do Associations in the US (the US TSD Moo Duk Kwan Federation and the WTSDA). He's also written several wonderful books about Tang Soo Do. Such a man was almost worthy of worship. Such dedication, such motivation, such overall success.
But I've grown up now. I've since come to terms with NHL rookies being younger than me, and I've since lost time to continue training in martial arts. And all those people who I looked up to when I was younger I began questioning how their values line up with who I am and who I aim to be and so on so forth, and I came to find myself unable to "align myself" with any figure of notability in my life.
Everyone and their mother will look up to their parents. I love my parents, but I've grown to be both different and similar in ways that give me the shakes from time to time. I know I've inherited my parents's work ethic (I do my job and I do it right, there's no other way to be) and I've inherited my mother's temper and my father's indecisiveness. In terms of education, my parents took a bit of a step backwards. Both of my grandfathers earned masters degrees (my maternal grandfather in mathematics and my paternal grandfather in music education), and my grandmothers were successful in their own fields (I'm not sure of either of their actual degree completions, but my maternal grandmother was a talented and locally successful artist and my paternal grandmother has done and still does quite well in real estate), but both of my parents dropped out of university after a year or so.
I guess I take a lot after my maternal grandmother, though. She was among the most loving, kind-hearted-yet-firm, open-minded people I'm related to. She and I were the only liberals on my mother's side of the family, really; most everyone else is pretty conservative or at least moderate-favoring-right. I miss her to death (she died May 18th, 2011. I might write something extra on this later, the story is actually quite brilliant), but I can't help but feel that I didn't really think of her as a role model. I felt like she was how things should be, extraordinary yet the ideal norm, and I was already so much like her.
Here's where I'll put the bottom line of this post: my only role model is who I perceive would be the ideal "me". I make my own way, I don't necessarily subscribe to the teachings of others (although I do take some pretty interesting ones to heart
), and the only person who I can see myself becoming is myself. That must be the honest truth, because it's the only claim I think is fair to myself. A role model is someone we aim to become like in the end, but I don't know anyone like that, so the only answer is me.
Also, yeah, I said I was gonna post more stuff, and I suck nuggets for not doing so, but I seem to be one of three people interested in keeping my place of employment afloat. I'LL DO IT, HONEST, I SWEAR!
Phew, way way way behind. Sorry, work is being awful. Anyway, here we go now.
Dreams are a brilliant thing. Consciousness in its own right is a wonder, but extending that to when we sleep is simply mind-blowing.
For a long time I've tried to perfect lucid dreaming. I can gain lucidity on some occasions, but not with any regularity like I want to.
The first time I lucid dreamed, I got a different perspective on dreaming. Before that, I never had a good, clear recollection of my dreams, and when you don't recollect so well, sometimes it can feel like dreams can go on for ages. But once you're aware you're dreaming, you find that dreams don't last all that long after all.
Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep, which is the part of the sleep cycle where you're sleeping the lightest and your brain activity is most like when you're awake. It's also one of the shortest parts of the sleep cycle, usually lasting only 5-20 minutes at a time, and you'll have 4-6 REM sleep stages in a night. Research has also shown that time in dreams usually correlates 1-to-1 with time in real life. So your dreams are most likely to only last 5-20 minutes at a time, interrupted by stretches of deeper sleep.
And yeah, that's about right from my experience. Well, from the sets of lucid dreams that weren't immediately ended by gaining lucidity (which happens frustratingly often). Only getting a few minutes to explore the infinite sandbox that is your imagination, then not gaining lucidity in any of the other REM stages...blech, annoying.
There is one man, Robert Monroe, who claimed to be able to control the passage of time within his dreams. Despite being a radio broadcasting executive (ya know, just to be completely unrelated to the topic at hand), he ended up doing a lot of research into "altered consciousness", wrote 3 books on the subject, invented an audio technology to synchronize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and apparently had a one-night lucid dream that lasted 100 years.
This seems far-fetched at best. No claims of dreams like this (even ones only lasting several days or weeks) have been scientifically verified, so all evidence in anecdotal, but it actually brings up an interesting thought.
What if you did, actually, spend years in a dream world in one night's time? I have a hard time trying to picture it. Now, I'm someone known to fervently pursue ways to escape reality, so I really tried to at least have a dream that lasted a couple hours instead of the short 5-20 minutes. I was pretty unsuccessful, but it made me ponder that question even more. The ability to have dreams that long, dreams that I can control, would probably be rather addictive. Why would anyone want to come out of such a state? You could live a nearly perfect life, completely unbounded by reality. Magic, romance, exploration, creation, destruction; the entirety of your world at your command.
As I thought of this more and more, I eventually came to a point where I thought, "Oh my god, this would potentially end my life!" I'd cease to live in the real world. It would become the opposite: the dream world is what I'd call reality, and I'd consider reality a nightmare, a 18-hour-or-so nightmare I'd have to experience from time to time, trudging through the real world wanting only to "wake up" and be back home again. At worst, I'd be something akin to self-induced comatose.
But what would life be like if I experienced a dream years long in one night? How do you return from that? To you, it would be like you haven't seen your real friends and family for years, only warped images of them created by your sub-conscious mind. And further, what would it feel like to return from spending years in a world at your complete control, unbounded by reality, to the real world you mostly can't control and the laws of physics prevail?
I'd like to hear what any of our readers think about these questions, because I can imagine personal conclusions on the matter would be incredibly varied and I'm interested in knowing how others would respond to such situations.
I better see a mad stream of comments here people! I'm trying to be thought-provoking, and I've lost our first two topics! I don't want to lose the third!