With all the hub-jub in the media lately about Mr. Gore and his .5 of the Nobel Peace Prize I figured I would finally sit down and watch his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” As with all movies like this (any Michael Moore film) we as the watcher/receiver of this information have the daunting and frustrating task of separating fact from fiction, from twisted fact from lack of fact. It is almost as bad as not knowing at all. Well nothing is good about being ignorant but you get my drift. Who do we trust? What is a reputable source of information? Given the ability for things to be changed and people to be swayed its almost damn near impossible to trust anyone but yourself. Especially on a controversial issue such as this. So what can we do? Better safe then sorry? We wasting our time? Who cares we will be gone before it effects us? What about our children?

I just finished the movie and I feel like you did after your first sex ed class and the graphic photos of STD’s were shown to you. SEX!?!? fuck that. Which obviously is a little rash (no pun intended (but thats funny ^.^)) conclusion to jump to. So I won’t state how I feel about the issue either way.

Actually I don’t know how I feel to be honest. I don’t want to believe it because that is just awful if the predictions are right. But I’m reminded of something my Dad told me when I was a boy (christ we are getting old), “People have been climbing mountain tops and holding doomsday signs for as long as I can remember.” You guys remember those psychic shows that were popular for a while when we were kids? About the year 2000? Nuclear holocaust and California falling into the ocean… I was so scared by them. But the year 2000 came and here we are.

But maybe this issue is real, and we have successfully cried wolf so much in the past that this is the one time we ignore it and regret it. I don’t know, I just don’t know. Efficient light bulbs are expensive, new appliances that are energy efficient are expensive. Hybrid cars etc. etc. All of these things that are the recommended, “Solution to the problem,” are not economically feasible for the average Joe. Or maybe they are and I’m missing something. I would hate to beat the dead horse here, but I don’t even know where to start with being accurately informed on this issue. Who do I listen to? Al Gore? If I wanted to hear it form anyone I want to hear it from his college professor that he claimed got him involved in this issue when he was in school. I applaud his efforts to spread the message and the dedication he has to the cause. But what makes his ideas and views reputable? I suppose that is different for every person. But I would take his word with greater weight if somehow he could prove to me that he wasn’t just another “yakity environmental nut job.” I’m not saying he needs to light himself on fire in the middle of the street, but just something to justify winning .5 of the NPP.

Long winded and for that I apologize. What do you guys think?

June 18th, 2008

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Well you have done it. You bought your first or second MMORPG and now it is time to get serious about it. You know what race, sex, profession, skill tree and class your character is going to be. You find yourself sitting at the character creation screen. I would hate to quote the Matrix on this one but your character will be your, “mental projection of your digital self.” For more hardcore gamers everything about this animated person they are shaping right now will determine how they play the game, and how they interact with fellow gamers.

I would like to take a moment to talk about stereotypes. As these games progress the level detail and the complexity of character creation is increasing. A lot of human-like attributes and characteristics are evident in a persons MMO character. Most of the big bulky male characters are played by two types of people: those with little man syndrome (who might say, “drive an extremely large truck”) and those who are the alpha males of our species (dominant confident males, not the typical gaming dorkasaurus). The females are a little different. Ninety percent of all females who play these games will be playing female characters and probably constitute about 10% of the “female character” population. The other 90% of female characters you see running around are played by males. Maybe a little sexually confused at one point or another, or maybe just taking some good ole fashioned advantage of having the boobs they don’t have in real life. Remember friend, when you go after that hot Night Elf ass, she may turn out to have a surprise below in the bedroom. But that never stops you from going after them initially does it? Maybe help her out with a quest or 2? Maybe give her some new digs to fight in? Doing whatever it takes to solidify you a possible position in those “potentially” female loins. I digress… moving on…

Just like in REAL LIFE your characters looks will determine how people interact with you. If you choose to have a glamorous looking beautiful character (a popular choice, since most of the MMO player base are introverts “the sun burns!! Ouch!”) then you will be treated like a member of the beautiful peoples club. Ugly characters aren’t really paid attention to etc. It is your freshmen year of high school all over again. The similarities between the simulated world and the world you simultaneously exist in for REAL, are startling. I think if Freud were a computer program just floating about Azeroth for a bit he would still come to the same conclusions. Or would he? Lets face it here, not everyone is out to role play. Which brings me to the next topic … the bully, the ass, the funstopper. A BAF if you will. (Note: I realize that BAF is a term used when mobs, “Bring a Friend.”)

Now the BAF is an interesting guy. He logs into the MMO with one goal, and one goal only. Take what you can! And give nothing back. This guy is the person who ninja loots, or kills noobs in the middle of the night when they are bored. A typical day for a BAF is to join a random group and try to take control of it. You know this person. The guy who is trying to tell everyone how to play their character and what their role should be in the group. He is the authority on everything and if you don’t listen to him then you are bound to receive (with caps lock set to AWESOME MODE) a series of tells telling you how dumb you are and that you have no idea what you are doing. He isn’t here for fun, or even to really get things done. He is just here to feed his inflated ego and bring his step dads controlling issues to the game where he can act out and not get hit with the electrical cord.

I might add more to this one later, but I’m tired of it just sitting in a text document forever… updates to follow I’m sure.

June 18th, 2008

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I recently started to play World of Warcraft again. I have started and stopped playing this game about four times since its release. I play for a few months get a character close to about level 30 and then I stop. Why do I do this? Well let’s take it back to the first Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game that I ever got into.

*queue flashback music*

I forget my exact age but I was in high school at the time and some friends of mine had purchased a game called Dark Ages of Camelot and showed it to me at a LAN party that we were having. It looked fun enough, your typical role playing game. Except we got to play with each other from our houses and with 1000’s of other players, all at the same time! So I begged my mom to get it for me and pay the subscription fee for me to play. Little did I know that my life was going to take an unplanned change that day.

I was introduced to a place where you can be whoever you want to be, act how you want to act, and essentially be a member of a world society at about 100000th the scale of the Real World. Where what you did mattered and you could have impacts on many different people’s lives. As you play more and more you start to realize that this is an extremely social interaction. You were exposed to a new huge array of people doing the same thing you were doing. Completely falsified by the fact they were playing a character and not themselves. But, “Hey” you were doing the same damn thing, so it didn’t matter. The world was at your finger tips and for the first time in gaming history I was able to make my own adventure, nothing was scripted out or set before me, I was controlling every aspect of my character’s existence. It was truly a great feeling. Nothing was beyond you if you worked for it, and you could set yourself attainable goals. Everyone was working toward something similar and we could only be successful if we worked together. It was much different then the world that I lived in as a Real Person. Everyone looking out for Numero Uno and stepping on everyone else to get there wasn’t the mindset here.

You play, you divide and you conquer. My main frustration lies (like most MMO junkies) with the end game result. What happens when you get to the end? It is not like the real world. You can’t sell everything you have got and buy an RV and travel until the end of your days. There is no MMO Florida condo to purchase and no one to give you sponge baths. You have two options when you reach the end of games such as these a) start over and take a different route, or b) move on the next one. Most people will keep choosing option A for the simple fact that the game is familiar to them, they have been playing with the same people for about a year and they have built relationships with them. But that is a whole different section to write about. The fact of the matter is, you will have to move on at some point and it is then you realize it just isn’t the same as it used to be.

After my time with Dark Ages of Camelot was over (the first run anyway) I would say I have been back to it only about three times for some extremely short periods of play before I was bored. The people I played with were a huge aspect of my gaming experience. As soon as they start to go, it chips away at your “want” to be there. So you try your hand at others. I don’t know the exact order of what I played but it was a list for sure. Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2, Anarchy Online, Shadow Bane, Everquest, Everquest 2, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, and Dungeons and Dragons online. I am sure I am missing some in there like Runescape (good times Munro). I kept trying and buying different ones searching for that first feeling I had with Dark Ages of Camelot and NOTHING was working. It became statistical analysis and work to play. Not fun and adventurous like it was when I started. Everquest 2 got me very close, but only because I was part of a wonderful guild and they shared that need for adventure too. But even that light started to fade.

So now I get these, “cravings.” Flashbacks of events that I have experienced over the years of playing these games, and the feelings of excitement I had. As you get older lets face it, “life gets more and more boring.” You go to work you pay bills; you buy things you can’t afford and then just pay them off for the rest of your existence. But that only fills about 60% of your time alive. That other 40% of “recreation” is important too. I loved filling that time with adventure games and now that I don’t have that, I sometimes find myself turning to more “harmful” alternatives. Drugs, drinking, or sometimes just staring at nothing and melting away as father time cuts me down has become my recreation. I write and read to pass the time. But I do not like feeling that living is just “passing time.” As most people I want to enjoy it to the fullest extent! For everyone that is different. Some people go skydiving, rock climbing or travel. I want to have adventures from my home, where I can be comfortable and relaxed. Not have to worry about social anxiety or how I am viewed by the rest of society. MMO’s provide that outlet for the introvert person. It boosts them up, makes them feel good about themselves, and lets them choose without much consequence at all, how they want to be portrayed to others.

So to satisfy these “cravings” I keep reinstating my WoW subscription. I get a small adventure by myself and I can play as long or as short as I want to yet still getting something accomplished. In WoW however there isn’t much social interaction at all. The game is so tailored to the casual gamer that at low levels being social is more of hindrance for success then it is fun. The social aspect is huge for me in these games, so I eventually stop playing, “snap back to reality” and go about a mundane existence until I get the “urge” again.

I will keep playing MMORPG’s and I will keep trying different ones until I get that feeling back! It was much too great and overwhelming to not strive for and just forget about. I would like to document my MMO knowledge in some installments. These are subject to change but I would like the entries to go a little like as follows:

  • Character Creation, and Interactions
  • The People you play with, Guilds and online Friends
  • When it’s all over, what are you left with? What have you taken away? What are you missing?

June 18th, 2008

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I was actually in my late teens when I first got introduced to the Harry Potter series. 2001 was when the Sorcerer’s Stone was released into theaters. Now I had NO introduction to Harry Potter before seeing that movie trailer for the first time, but I knew it was something special. I was promptly loaned the first book by a good friend of mine about a week before the movie was due to come out. I read it very quickly and then borrowed the rest of the books. We were only up to the Goblet of Fire by that point. So I was lucky to get into the series while the excitement and magic was still running wild. There are a few things I’d like to address here: what Harry Potter gives people, the importance of what it gives and what I personally have taken from the Harry Potter Experience.

Our society today is that of the consumer and the middle class zombie. We walk around so concerned about our appearance, paycheck, and social anxieties that we all lead rather mundane and boring lives. Think about it, you get up you go to work, you go home. Now if the nature of your job isn’t pleasing to you, but you feel as though you must do it, then so be it. It puts food on the table and takes care of your family, even if you are suffering eight hours a day. I just hope that you have a supportive enough circle of people around you that show their appreciation for your sacrifice. That is only 40 – 60 hours a week however. There are 168 hours in a full 7 day 24 hour a day week. You still have around 2/3 of your week to fill up with what constitutes your existence! Maybe you feel lost? Don’t know where to start? Start here: Have many interests and get excited about the world around you. “If you are BORED you ARE BORING!!!” that little phrase has done wonders for me, and I hope it can for others.

What does Harry Potter do for this person in the paragraph above? Why it gives them an escape, a comfort, or an adventure (maybe all three). Perception is reality and what better place to make your own reality then your own head. There are a few types of ways people read books and take in stories. Subjective readers will sit outside the story and look in, like they are watching a movie. They will think things like, “oh wow good for him, go get’em Harry.” They will be concerned about the characters and plot, but it is a very detached style of reading. Objective readers are on the other side of the spectrum; they are what we can call, “the more imaginative crowd.” You put yourself in the story. You feel what the characters feel. If Harry gets hurt or loses a loved one, it is as though it has happened to you. You laugh, cry, and share in the victories. It is as almost you are a ghost walking amongst the story, there to witness all the events as they take place. You put yourself at the side of the characters, “if only they knew they weren’t alone right?” The latter I believe is the majority of die hard Harry Potter fans, and that is me.

While reading these books it is as though, you are somewhere else. Your Mom might be screaming at you, or your Dad just got done tearing you down with all sorts of mental assaults. Perhaps the wife or husband is, “at it again.” Sitting down and being taken somewhere else is a very powerful thing. Harry Potter gave me that, and it also gave me guidance. I see the value in all the characters in Harry Potter. No one was perfect and they all had flaws, just like the people around me. I wanted Harry’s courage, Hermione’s intelligence and Ron’s zeal. There was something I would take from all of them. There were many times when I was down on myself or having a hard time with something in life and I would just think to Harry Potter. Instantly I would be walking the halls of Hogwarts Castle learning from my friends, spending time with them and letting them comfort me. Crazy right? No. I’m not the only one at all. Many people are doing that exact same thing, but no one is talking about it. Why? Because it isn’t “normal.” The concept of normality is an entire separate piece so we will not address that here. The bigger point here is that you need tools to escape your reality. It is healthy to exercise those parts of yourself. It makes you a more dynamic individual. Harry Potter IS one of those tools for me.

I am beginning to ask myself why I am even writing this. The truth is it is for two reasons. I’m doing it for me, and for you, easy as that. I feel as though a lot of people don’t understand the way I think or my reasoning for doing what I do. So this is my message to them. Oh for the record The Half Blood Prince is due to be released the 21st of November so CLEAR YOUR Calendars PEOPLE!!!!

June 18th, 2008

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one of the local free publications in my town rejected my previous post to publish because it was to long and lacked focus. Well you can only have 450 words in the guest column so I’m trying again. With this piece below …

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You know those moments in your life when things become crystal clear? Those times where you know exactly what you are going to do or what you want? Think back on all those tough decisions you ever had to make. Take yourself to those final moments of Zen and Aw when you finally felt comfortable enough to move on. I bet they all share a commonality that you didn’t really even know you were doing. These moments of clarity can easily be accomplished everyday by, “being in the moment.”

The moment for me was driving home from work one day. Stressed out of my mind, I was fueling my own lingering thoughts of depression and confusion. On the final stretch of road to my house I saw a woman pushing a newborn in a stroller. I thought to myself, “Life is beautiful sometimes.” I slowed my car down and said out loud, “I am going to learn to appreciate the wonders of life and the world around me.” I was doing something at that point I didn’t know. I was using a type of self hypnosis. The words I said out loud were called an affirmation. I was so engrossed in that moment in time that I was able to make a lasting impression on myself that I involuntarily feel everyday.

Now being in the moment doesn’t mean you stand in the middle of a busy street talking to yourself. There is great value in taking time to see and listen when your life is in a state of chaos. Turn your brain off, and just absorb the things your senses are feeling. This is it what means to be in the moment. It is when our intuitions take over and are able to make a lasting impression on us.

I’m a practical person, and I have learned to have these moments in my daily life of working almost double the hours a week that most do. I’ve done this standing in line at the bank, walking to my car in a parking lot, sitting at a stop light, or waiting in line at an eatery. I stop and feel the small things. The weight of my clothes, the pressure of my feet in my shoes, the sounds of people talking, the sight of trees swaying in a cool breeze out of a window, are just a few of the things I have learned to pay attention to and it has given me great insight into myself and my reality. I’m the happiest I have ever been, all it took was for me to stop for a moment and truly experience it.

June 5th, 2008

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