Monday, July 15, 2013

Is there a good time to blog?


I am trying to figure out if there is a good time to blog.  I have a lot of ideas floating in my noodle, but finding time to put them to digital paper seems to be a never ending battle that I keep losing.  I am reading so much, working so much, and trying to be a half decent husband and step-father, that it seems the last thing I have time to do is lament or discuss my passions digitally.  I can see why micro-blogging is such the rage these days.  Who has time to read a 1000 words of half-baked ideas, strung together to make some sort of sense only the writer probably finds interesting.  In today’s digital age, lamenting ones thoughts on the taboo subjects of religion, politics, or the evening news via social media is vogue, not sending what amounts to a self-addressed email “SOS” to my blogging platform; that is “old school”.  I must stay on target and carry on if I ever have a hope to write like the luminaries I read.

One book I find myself enjoying on the bus this week is “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr.  Carr found himself in the same boat a few years back where he felt the Internet was contributing to his increasing short attention span.  He conducted a pseudo-epidemiology study where he identified how the development of “tools” (Language, devices, and systems) changed the way we think.  The complement to this book is the recent book by Temple Grandin that tries to break the models used to classify people on the Autism spectrum using a new method.  She is particularly interested in focusing on peoples strengths and identifying how they acquire knowledge, wisdom, and insights.  Typically, people are either visual or verbal “learners”.  What she proposes are visual learners be further divided into “visual object” learners, or “pattern” learners.  I am sure there are hybrid options as well.  It got me thinking what type of learner am I?  The short answer is, I think I agree with Temple and that there is such a thing as a pattern learner.  The question is this a default way of learning or a developed way of learning for some?  One thing is clear, I think there needs to be balance across the learning styles even if one style is dominate.  Michael Shermer’s recent work about the “believing brain” convinced me that we tend to go with our “guts” and I find this quote from the movie “High Fidelity” pretty much sums up how good going with the gut is for an untrained brain.      

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Outlook Blogging

I been blogging with Windows Live Writer for several years, but felt I needed a more powerful editor since there seems to not be a future for the product.  Blogging templates have been a feature of Microsoft Word since 2007, so I tried to get the blog connector for Office 2013 to work with Google’s Blogger a few weeks ago.  What a frustrating experience that was.  It seems the older the Internet gets, the more disinformation it holds.  It is like our atmosphere after 50 years of shooting satellites in it: filled with debris that is dangerous and not easy to remove.

 

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After several attempts to get Microsoft Word 2013 to connect with Blogger, I gave up and decided to use Microsoft Outlook 2013 and submit my post via e-mail.  I am a voracious email user, so I think this a natural fit for me.  Over the next few weeks I will be looking for tips and tricks for making blog post via Outlook.  I am currently researching ways to make sure the formatting looks clean without the need for templates or guides.

If you stumble across this blog and have some tips to share, please do so in the comment sections.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Awareness

Been about a year since I have blogged, and a lot has happened in my life.  The primary development is a new level of awareness.  This awareness is empowering my conscious choices about what direction my life will go, and how I behave when things happen that I do not like.  Instead of thinking through problems I am checking my feelings more, trying to sense what is appropriate, and acting based on that.  I love that I am now a stepfather and husband.  Getting married this year had some challenges, but the event was a very intimate gathering of friends and family, marked with good food, music, and wonderful dancing.  Unfortunately, sometimes there is an emotional cost paid when things are going well.
 

Scarlet Myrick passed away on June 15, 2013 at the age of four years old.  She developed pug dog encephalitis, and we were unable to get the resulting seizers under control.  Scarlet was a wonderful companion, the center of attention, and through caring for her I began to develop a new awareness of what it takes to be a caregiver.  I am humbled by the experience, and while I am sad to lose my companion, I am grateful for all that I have gained in life.

My parents took a risk getting her for me; they crossed boundaries that normal people do not cross.  What fueled their gamble is their love for me, and all I can say is thank you for such a wonderful experience.  Parenting is a rough business because you have to know when it is okay to cross the boundaries of society to give your children what they need.  I am fortunate to have such naturally talented parents, and I hope that I can develop the tacit knowledge to help my children when they need it as well. 
  
 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Man or Superman

“So what are you? Man or superman?” – Lana Lang
”I haven’t figured it out yet” – Clark Kent
-Smallville Season 1 Pilot

SnB

First, I want to say my heart goes out to the victims of the recent tragedy at the screening of Batman “Rise of the Dark Knight”.  My prayers of healing go out to the victims of this senseless act and those affected as “collateral damage” by the reporting of the events. 

Unfortunately for me, this event has triggered not only feelings of sadness towards those who lost their lives or were wounded, but thoughts towards rationalizing how this could have happen in the first place and what the resulting aftermath will be.  I say unfortunately because I think a normal reaction would be to just be sad for the victims.  I on the other hand, have this heroic persona that feels compelled to speak beyond just expressing remorse for others bad luck, but also how we as a society can do better. 

On the bus ride home I heard one of the riders say “Man this is going to affect the box office take this weekend.” to another patron.  My immediate mental reaction was to judge that patron as an insensitive asshole based on my thinking, and it almost motivated me to behave by acting to express that to him unfiltered and raw.  What stopped me was I activated a new power I am developing, one based on feelings. This power operates by identifying what feelings I have and then engages my thinking to determine what feelings others might have to determine if compassion or empathy are required before or when I act.

Associating my feelings with my thoughts to govern my actions is a new concept for me.  It isn’t that I don’t have feelings, I do… it is now I am consciously exploring the interplay of the cognitive processes of thinking, feeling, and acting.  I am learning to slow down my thinking by using my feelings and thus governing my willpower to manage my behavior. 

When I got home, Verizon offered me a free movie on-demand, so I watched the movie Chronicle where three teenagers discover a object that unlocks mental powers enabling them to perform telekinesis.  What is interesting about this title is that it illustrates how environment can affect ones mental and emotional development to a point they become siloes and imbalanced thus creating heroes and villains out of happenstance due to actions based on emotional events.  The movie explores the philosophical nature of humans, being creatures motivated by will, and how some humans will overdevelop to become an “Apex Predator” that needs to be dealt with.

I feel pretty lucky I made it as far as I have in life where my thinking and feelings being siloes that affected my behavior.  During my early development years, I had a hard time expressing my feelings in healthy ways.  It isn’t that I wasn’t loved or cared for, I was.  It’s just when stressful events occurred I would turn on my heighten mental acuity to fight or flight.  If I chose to fight, it would be on my terms where I would have the advantage, if I flew it would be to a sanctuary where I would play a game or work on an art projects and allow balance to return.

It is time to get smart now… I can’t rely on being lucky all the time.  Hence why I am slowing down my thinking and working on balancing it with my feelings and behavior. The goal is to respond to emotional events with more compassion to reduce the potential of collateral damage. 

I think success is based on the principle, first you get lucky, then you get smart.

For those of us fortunate to still be alive, lets not over rationalize the events that transpired early Friday AM.  Let us morn the loss of life, praise the local law enforcement for apprehending the culprit, and be thankful we don’t need vigilante justice.      

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gamer Geek Problems

“So who are you rooting for this Sunday in the big game?”
“The Horde!”

compass

I am in a weird state right now.  I am a bit unsettled because I am caught between four video games and don’t know what direction I want to go.

A year or two ago, my North was World of Warcraft.  I been playing WOW for almost five years and for the most part it was a quite fulfilling game.  WoW would satisfy my desire for competence and eventually I would standardize on being a healer.  My only dissatisfaction would be playing with other people online in the progressive elements of the game.  At first things would be pretty fun, but eventually it would lead to dysfunction and drama.  After a period of time I would lose interest when my guilds would start falling apart or it was hard to find pugs that would do end game content.  Mind you, I was usually that last person to pull out of a bad situation, but it just seemed my desire for a semi-progressive guild that would do endgame content and be helpful would never seem to be met.

Fortunately, Starcraft 2 came out and became my East.  My close friends all seem to play SC2, and we would meet on during the week and Sunday evening to play multiplayer against the computer AI.  It was very rewarding, but then Cataclysm came out and sucked up my time.  One major problem for me with SC2 was I desired to ladder multiplayer, but none of my friends wanted that kind of pressure.  I tried to ladder, but found myself researching more then just playing. 

I enjoy watching Day9 and ForceSC2 a lot.  This is probably the most positive thing to come out of SC2 the casters vLogs.  Day9’s passion for the game is unmatched, and makes me want to be a better gamer.  Force is also a very good caster, a lot more mellow then Day9, but still equally as good.  I wish the WoW community would have such passionate and dedicated personalities.  I don’t think MMO’s will ever get as dedicated folks that break down each class each week and discuss optimal strategies.  Most are just news casters who look to the forums for comic relief.

I think my biggest hurdle laddering is not knowing what to do when I lose.  When I played my mother in chess, at least she would give me feedback.  That is one of the problems with laddering, you can go weeks probably never figuring out if you are doing something wrong with your build.  In the end I felt the strategies the casters were explaining made sense, I just couldn’t grasp the tacit knowledge.  I understood the game, just my timing was always a bit off. 

When Cataclysm came out, I found myself drawn back in and found a great semi-progressive guilds and was doing my best to learn to play a Paladin healer.  It went okay until heroic raid content was being attempted.  Once again I found myself in the middle of guild dysfunction where there was a lot of drama because people were burnt out on the first tier raid content which resulted in attendance problems, and me being left out of the ten person runs.

Last late Spring, Summer, and Fall was spent playing a number of board games with friends and relearning HDR photography.  I would occasionally play SC2 with my friends, for the most part giving up on trying to ladder.  SC2 was also going through a number of adjustments that would require play style adjustments. This also interfered with the learning curve a bit.  I guess for me, the main reason why I didn’t ladder was due lack of comradery and wished I had some friends who would join me to enjoy my achievements.  I mean, It would be kind of cool to say I hit gold or platinum, but if none of my friends played, it wouldn’t really matter.

The past Winter, Star Wars the Old Republic was released and I once again joined my friends in leveling characters.  The game was pretty fun and became my South for the first 30 levels, but then quickly became a bit of a grind.  My chief complain with SWTOR is that the UI lacked many of the refinements of WoW especially mouse over healing.  Everything required clicking on unit frames to cast spells.  The other major flaw with the game is the lack of queuing for dungeons.  I mean you can LFG in chat, but it is not like WoW where you just queue up for your daily quest or specific instances.  Patch 1.2 just dropped, and it the UI elements and content looks pretty good, but the lack of mouse over casting, and queue grouping holds me back a from really getting to excited.  What is strange is, I wonder if my desires for these refinements are unique, meaning is this same thing stopping others from going deeper in the game.  I really feel that SWTOR is a better game than WoW in the story telling aspect, but the lack of MMO refinements seem to leave me at an impasse.

This Spring, Diablo 3 will be released, I know in my heart of hearts, this is going to be my West, and I think it will be deep enough to cater to my desire for competence as well as comradery.  Still, I find myself secretly desiring to play WoW, SC2, and even SWTOR when they address at a minimum the queuing for instances.  Mist of Pandera looks like it is going to be pretty titanic character shift and with all the pressure for SWTOR and other free to play MMO’s, it might be the beginning of the end for WoW.  I think MoP needs to add some better raid frames to the same level as GRID, and the ability to customize the location of elements like SWTOR just added.

Lately one thing that has been feeding my gamer hunger has been playing the D&D board games with my old D&D group.  It is great to get together for a couple of hours with friends and play the weekly adventure. 

In the end, I think I enjoy co-op games where I play a specific key support role within the group.  It just feels like I am in the middle of a complicated box I have created, and I am wondering how I balance my desire for comradery with competency. 

http://youtu.be/QUvQBTP1inE