(Il)Logical Progression

Random Musings by the Truly Random

Glass half full? Glass half empty? I dunno…

It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired enough to write something here – I’m surprised that there are still hits coming in.  For those who are still looking around here, thanks.

I’ve been trying to keep busy here – been working on some models for Warmachine, playing lots of Star Wars – The Old Republic, reading (finally finished Eldest), and catching up on television programs that I like (such as Game of Thrones).  Some days, though, it feels like I’m just getting through the day, other days it actually feels like I’m doing something (semi-?) productive.

One thing, though, that I’ve been told, recently, is that I can be a pretty negative person, especially when it comes to myself.  Me?  Negative?  I never used to think so – I always felt that I was a ‘look on the brighter side’ kind of person.  But I do think that my friend is right in a lot of ways – I’m pretty positive… when it comes to other people.  When it comes to myself, I tend to be a doomsayer, I think.

“I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell…” – Matchbox Twenty, “Unwell”

Yeah, I think I’m a little crazy.  Well, actually, I know I’m crazy in some ways, but that’s not what I’m talking about here – I mean insane by Einstein’s definition.

“Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Every day, I feel like I do the same things.  Same motions at work.   Same hobbies.  Same interactions with others.  And I wonder why things don’t change.  I see myself doing the same things in similar situations and while it feels like maybe things will be different this time, eventually things feel like they’re heading back in the same, rather disappointing directions.  Although, I am pushing myself this year to do things differently, there’s a great deal of inertia to overcome – the inertia of my past habits – and it’s been an uphill climb.

And further, that positivism that I can offer up to others?  Very different from the attitudes I carry about myself.  I need to believe I can succeed, in order to succeed.

This all came up over a night of Star Wars talking about PvP, and the capabilities of classes.  I was running Arsenal on my Mercenary at the time, a great PvE build, but I was getting murdered in PvP, because its main weapon – Tracer Missile – is a stationary shot with a 1.4 second cast time.  I’d get hit while shooting, and not really have anything else I could do once set upon, since the bulk of my abilities have cast times – making them useless when trying to run – and those I could use while running just didn’t hit hard enough.  I have a couple of unreliable interrupts, and very little crowd control.  Blah, blah, blah…

This topic is not a new one for me, and my friend had pretty much become tired of hearing me complain about my class, my performance, and how I just wasn’t any good at PvP.  She told me so, in plain, clear language that she’d heard enough, didn’t want to hear anymore about it, and that if I didn’t like it that I needed to own up and do something about it.

It went a bit further downhill after that, and she pointed out to me, rightfully so, that I – a) am not nearly as poor a player as I portray and think I am, b) that my performance in that Arsenal spec was not as bad as I made it out to be as I had been playing it, c) that I could hold my own against the people we regularly play with, and d) that I wasn’t really playing it as well as I could be, because I wasn’t playing it as what it is – a ranged DPS spec – that I was running in and trying to play the front lines and getting killed for it.

And it’s all pretty much true – I definitely wasn’t adapting in PvP and was just complaining about the poor(-ish?) results I felt I was getting doing it the same way almost every time.

Talking to a couple other people, reading up on it a bit, and actually thinking about it, I realized I needed to change my playstyle in order to change the outcome.

It worked that night – I started trying to survive, and snipe, instead of running into the firefight every time, and lo and behold, my performance stats went up.  I earned badges faster.  I was able to get more PvP gear.  My performance went up as my gear got better…  See a trend?

So, with all that in mind, I started looking around online, and I found something that would boost my performance way up in PvP – a new build.  A mobile build.  One I could go toe-to-toe effectively with people at a distance and up close.  Pyrotech build  (3/7/31).

It’s an amazing build.  It ratcheted my damage up by nearly 200% and my survivability like crazy.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was able to keep up in those WarZones.  I wasn’t just going out to die.  I was enjoying the fights and doing well.

Now, I’m still not all the way there – I have to learn a bit more on tactics and awareness, but I’m better than I was before I made the switch.  And the best part is, after the first time I used it, I felt like I could do this.  And that’s the important thing.

And it’s important I remember that, so that I can transfer it to my work and other hobbies.  I’m actually painting again, a little bit here and there, and right now, the Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator I’m working on is looking decent.

Learning to persevere and to have some confidence in myself is going to be important for a lot of the goals I have my eye on this year – job, personal, and hobby-related.  And this all is a first step – I’m a slow learner sometimes, but it’s really far past time to get over the fact that while I’m probably not going to be the very best at anything I do, that it doesn’t mean I’m not good at what I do, and that I need to determine a realistic level of performance to aim for and to be happy when I reach it.

Old dog.  New trick?  I think so.

The glass is always full – 1/2 drink, 1/2 air.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

“Yeah you may think that I’m a zero
But hey, everyone you wanna be
Probably started off like me…

Just go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth
So everyone can hear
Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down
Baby I don’t care
Keep it up and soon enough you’ll figure out
You wanna be, you wanna be
A loser like me
A loser like me…”

-New Directions, Glee, “Loser Like Me”

March 27, 2012 Posted by | General Musings, Life, Star Wars - The Old Republic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uh…we have sort of a problem here. Yeah… 

“You apparently didn’t put one of the new coversheets on your TPS reports.” – Bill Lumbergh, Office Space

I treated myself last night to a couple hours of laughing at life.  I picked Office Space on Netflix, and spent some time enjoying the comedy that is working corporate.  It’s a laugh riot, simply because while some of the stuff that goes on in that movie seems ridiculous, it’s really closer to the truth than we’d like to admit.

The amount of time and effort that goes into things around an office that seem so inefficient can be staggering.  Waiting for a piece of equipment, for example, to be moved officially from one desk to another – something that requires next to no installation and is light enough to carry under one’s arm – that could be moved in five minutes,  which is now on its third week of waiting for IT to move and install.  A supervisor ordering that all vendor requests for technical fixes go through him, despite him having no technical expertise in that vendor’s program, nor any relationship with the vendor itself – something that often could be fixed in a single phone call.  A boss who disregards the content of a report she’d asked for assistance in producing to comment on how the font had been changed from the original font she’d used in the mock-up.

The corporate workplace brings out weird things in people.  People who could normally work efficiently, think for themselves, and get work done in a reasonable amount of time seem to become inefficient, mindless workers who spend so much time in meetings that there’s no way to get work done on time.

“Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.” – Peter Gibbons, Office Space

And yet, that’s the normal corporate day.  Maybe not every task is useless.  Maybe the boss does know something about what’s going on.  But often that’s not the case.

From filing alphabetically by customer name items that are not consistent in their customer name format (some last name first, some first name last) – items that have a unique item number on each item, to driving 70 miles round trip for a meeting that was just a set of group introductions that lasted maybe 15 minutes, efficiency does not appear to be a corporate goal, even if management has expressed explicitly that “we want to improve efficiency in our processes this year…”

Bosses that don’t have a clue what their subordinates are doing.  Layoffs of key personnel during the busy period of the work cycle and hoping that the remaining folk can pick up the pieces, without finding out if the people left even have the tools or resources to do what the departing person could do.  Having to cover work on a project because the people running the project don’t seem to acknowledge what the ability levels of the people on the project are, even if it feels like it’s staring everyone on the project in the face.

It made me wish that I could do just what Peter Gibbons did in that movie – to walk into the office in jeans and a casual shirt, stroll down to my desk, feeling like no matter what happened to me, it’s all good.  To know that it’s not this office that defines who I am in life.  To not find myself saying “Oh, I work for <company>, doing <job>.”

How many people out there would answer, if you asked them “Who are you in life?” with “I’m a doctor/accountant/clerk/janitor/whatever”?  Is that really who we are, what we do at work?  I certainly hope not.

I shouldn’t be an analyst.  I just am one for my job.

I should be a miniature enthusiast.  I should be a gamer.  I should be a creative writer.  I should be what I try to make time for, not what takes up my time.  I mean, if we classified ourselves by where we spent our time – our waking hours – then shouldn’t the answer to “Where do you live?” be “I live at <company> on floor <number>, in cubicle <number>?” for many people out there?   I mean we spend upwards of forty hours of our awake time there.

Forty hours a week at work.  Since most people have to commute to work, that can add a couple more hours to your ‘work day’.  That’s fifty hours a week of awake time spent towards the work process – and that’s assuming no work is being done at home or assuming one isn’t on call.   Fifty-five, if you count the unpaid lunch hour.  Generously assuming that one is getting the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, that’s fifty-five hours of a 112 hour week.

That’s 49% of the week spent actually in the work process.

Factor in, then, the time spent preparing for work – which could be as short as getting up in the morning, and getting showered, groomed and dressed – and that percentage goes up.  If we say it takes one hour each morning to get ready to go out the door to work, then we’re at sixty of 112 hours spent towards work, or 54%.  That’s over half the week!

It’s no wonder that people don’t get enough to sleep.  It’s one of the only ways to extend the awake hours in order to recapture life.

It’s no wonder people stress out when trying to do things that are supposed to be relaxing – gotta get as much relaxation in that 46% of the week as possible.

It’s no wonder people have problems outside the workplace – work stresses people.  Work makes people drink.  Work makes people crazy.

Just recently I had the experience of being with a company that had a ‘workplace incident’ while I was at work.  Fortunately, it was not in my building, but it was fairly nearby, especially by Los Angeles standards.  Our building was put on ‘lockdown’ and we were instructed not to leave the building, and then an hour later, once it was deemed ‘safe to proceed’, we were sent home for the day.  How likely was it that the ‘incident’ was caused by work related issues such as stress in the workplace, or on some workplace relationship?

And here’s the main issue for the average worker…

“It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation?” – Peter Gibbons, Office Space

We tend to stress out at work, but what does it get us?  We try hard to do things better, but unless you’re a shareholder in the company – and a fairly major one at that – you’re not making much extra for the stress.  Why does overtime seem like a bonus these days?  We trade more of our free time for extra money, saying to ourselves that the free time is better spent trying to better ourselves financially.

It’s unfortunate that this world runs on money.  I don’t see it running any other way, but it seems like the current generations in the workplace cannot make happen what previous generations were able to make happen on their normal jobs alone.  Not too many years ago, people could actually dream about saving for a house and buying one through hard work for a company.  Now it seems like just holding a permanent job is what people are hoping for – hoping for medical benefits which are far too expensive without the company help; hoping that they can find a company that they will be able to stay with for the years to come for the financial safety and stability; hoping that the economy doesn’t chew them up and spit them out, discarding them for the cheaper option.  It’s a tough world out there.

But it feels like we don’t have a choice.  We have to live, right?  Lodging, food, utilities and transportation all cost money, right?

We may have to work, but it doesn’t mean that’s who we are.  Perhaps it’s time to reexamine that.

Why is it that most people don’t work in the job or field they want to be in?

“Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you would do if you had a million dollars and didn’t have to work. And invariably, whatever you’d say, that was supposed to be your career. So if you wanted to fix old cars, then you’re supposed to be an auto mechanic.” – Peter Gibbons, Office Space

I think this is something that we as a society are lacking – the desire to seek out the occupation we want to work in.  Some do, certainly, but the majority of us out there do what we must do, personal feelings aside.

It’s time to take control again, and figure out what we want to do, both in our work and in our lives – and that should be the path we walk.

It’s not an easy path, nor one to take lightly, but it’s what we should truly aspire to.  We only live once.

“Peter, most people don’t like their jobs. But you go out there and find something that makes you happy.” – Joanna, Office Space

I couldn’t say it better myself.  Find something that makes you happy.

That should be Goal #1 for 2012.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

January 24, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , , , | Leave a comment

人生は字幕が必要。

I’ve never thought much about understanding what others are trying to say – it’s a natural function of interaction in this world.  I understand what I can, and if it’s in a language I don’t completely understand, but know a few words, I find myself listening for those words, just to pat myself on the back and say, “Hey, I know a little about what they’re talking about!”

I’m pretty fortunate, compared to others I’ve met through my life to understand bits and pieces of quite a few languages, even if I don’t speak them.  I can understand a little French, some words in Spanish, some characters and readings in Chinese – even if I don’t know how the Chinese would say it, and I’ve gotten around in Japan without speaking English to the natives.  It’s not often I come across a language I know absolutely nothing of.

That changed last night, and now I get a little bit of the frustration that some of my friends have shared with me regarding subtitled programming.  The missing lines.  The nuances that are missed by the translator in order to keep the text readable at the pace of the movie.  The uncertainty of how good the translation actually is, compared to the original dialogue.

Last night, on a whim, I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – the original 2009 Swedish film, not the recent US production.  (Ironically, the Swedish title is not The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but Men Who Hate Women – Män som hatar kvinnor.)

It was good.  A tad graphic at some points, but the story seemed compelling enough to watch, the plot interesting, and the filming fascinating due to the foreign feel of the technique.  The best part of the movie to me, though, was also the part that made me have to work to watch this film – it was in the original Swedish, with subtitles.

I’m fortunate in my experiences with Japanese films and anime, that I don’t normally need to actively acknowledge the subtitles – I take in the entire picture as one, and don’t really notice myself reading the subtitles at all, unless I come across a translation that just makes me go “WTF?”  But while watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it occured to me that I’m able to do this, simply because I understand Japanese enough that I’m using the subtitles to fill in words that I don’t know, but that I’m actually listening more than I’m reading.  With Swedish – a language I’d never heard in actual usage until that movie – I didn’t have that luxury.  I had to read it all, and keep up with the film itself – not a difficult thing, but a very different experience for me.  The movie could have been done in Tolkien’s Elvish, like parts of The Lord of the Rings and I probably wouldn’t have known the difference.

Now while this was a bit more effort than I’m used to putting into movie watching, it wasn’t bad – in fact, it’s part of what sticks out in my mind about the film.  I’m certain that if I hadn’t seen this version of the film, there would be little compelling me to see the US production, and the compelling parts to me about the US film are going to be the differences between the original film and this new remake.  Budget, for one thing – the original was filmed for $10M, and the remake spent nearly nine times that amount.  Recasting the parts – differences in what the Swedish makers were looking for versus their American counterparts.   And, of course, what was changed between the two films – what was included, what was left out, and what was added.  All in all, it will be interesting to see.

I think the reason why I can do this, is that I don’t feel that it was the fact that the film was Swedish that made the film work.  It didn’t appear to draw upon Swedish culture, or anything that said “If this was set in any other culture other than the Swedish culture, it would fall apart.”  I’ve seen examples of films where this mentality seems to hold – most are Japanese horror films, the ones that don’t use Japanese superstition and folklore for inspiration – but I’ve also met at least one that I am sure wouldn’t have worked – Shall We Dance? is my prime example, as the nuances of gender interaction in the Japanese culture were the driving forces behind the main plot.  How could that work in a US production – especially with people as far removed from ordinary as Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez?

But I digress.

What I came to the realization of, last night, was how much I take interpersonal communication for granted.  I don’t normally think about it much –  certainly not when speaking English.  Things are said to me, and I just instinctively – or is it reflexively? – respond.  It’s very much an assumption that I heard everything correctly, and in context, and I can respond with very little effort.

Still, I’m not sure that it’s the best way to do things – or even a good way.  It’s not that I don’t follow what’s being said, or that I don’t respond pertinently, but I have a tendency to treat a lot of situations similarly, as I respond to what I hear, not necessarily what is being said.

人生は字幕が必要。- Life needs subtitles.

I firmly believe that if I had this one thing in my life, I’d be far, far less prone to making mistakes.  And mind you, I mean subtitles as in “This is what the person means,” rather than closed-captioning “This is what the person just said.”  It’s often completely different, and it’s that part that usually causes me problems.

It’s those differences that catch my eye when I’m using subtitles – the “Wait a sec, that doesn’t seem like what was said” moments.  I’d be as infallible as I could be, if I had just this little tool – and I suspect that a lot of other people out there would be, too.  After all, that’s a lot of what Dr. John Gray’s Venus/Mars books are all about, isn’t it?  That women and men communicate differently, and that acknowledging that and responding appropriately to what is meant rather than what is said would bridge many gaps between the sexes.

And in my mind, that’s part of what these ‘subtitles’ would do – let me know what was meant, not said.

Business would benefit too – motives and underlying thoughts would be evident.  There would be less secrets in open conversations, because there’d be less ‘talking around the subject’ going on.

…and as long as I’m dreaming, I’d like a pony.” – Susie Derkins, Calvin and Hobbes

I think the point of all this, for me, is that I need to wake up and try to be an active participant in my own life, and in my interactions with people around me, rather than just trying to cruise through the day.  Writing, for once, makes me think about how I communicate things, given the ability to write, read, edit, and re-read what I present to the world, before it’s actually published.  It’s an active form of communication, and is one that remains active, for the most part – save the cut-and-paste form stuff I send out at work.  I think when I write, and edit, and try to ensure that what I’m actually ‘putting to paper’ is well thought out, grammatically correct, and spelled properly.

How many people, myself included, do that sort of thing when speaking?

I do it, but mostly when I speak in another language – primarily because that there isn’t a language other than English that I’m comfortable enough in to just speak.  I know bits and pieces of other languages, but English is my one and only fluent language.  I speak it without thinking.  I just say what I say.  I adjust how I say things based on the audience without thinking about it.  I can say “Whassup?” to my coworker next to me, and “Hello, sir.” to the director sitting in on the team meeting, without skipping a beat, but in Japanese, for example, most sentences that come from my lips have been thought out, listened to internally, edited, re-heard, and re-edited many times before they actually come into existence.

And, oddly enough, I don’t stick my foot in my mouth nearly as often in Japanese.

Think before you speak.  It seems simple, but I think very few people actually do it.  I don’t, most of the time, and I think it’s a bit disturbing that I feel that I’d need a tool to make myself do that, just to avoid saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

It’s a brain thing, though – and I think it illustrates that I really need to engage the person or people around me when I’m talking.  It’s only the right thing to do.

So to the people out there reading this – thank you for lending me your eyes.  Hopefully, I can be the same if I ever have your ear.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

January 16, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , , | 2 Comments

Digging Up the Past to Change the Present

Set the wayback machine to 1994, Sherman!

Once upon a time, there was a new game on the market called Magic: the Gathering.  It was new.  It was fresh.  It was different.  It was fun.  It was something I was told “Don’t do it!  Your wallet will thank you,” by friends who did play the game.  It was one of the first, and best accepted game in a new game type – the Collectible Card Game (CCG) – a game where you collected cards (in packs like baseball cards) and tried to build decks out of the cards to play against other players.  It was sold out everywhere.

And then one night in 1994 in Sacramento, I sat down and played the game with some friends using their cards.  We sucked.  We had a blast.  I was hooked.  It was still sold out.

Then, late that year, or maybe early the next year, they released a Revised version of the game, and it became accessible.  And I was still hooked.

Fast forward a few years.  2001.  I’d played the game for a few years, but nothing serious.  I built 100-card monstrosities that I thought were good decks.  But now, I was down in Los Angeles, and it turns out, cards were more readily available here.  More people played.  There were tournaments now, for prizes and cash.  Who’d have thunk it?

Now, what does this have to do with anything?

Well, around that time around 2000-2001, something was coming into being that would affect the game forever.  People on the internet began to write about the game.  People who were regularly winning tournaments started talking strategy.  Websites based around these articles were created, and regular columns helped players learn and become better.  The tournament scene soared with new players – players versed in Magic theory and playing at a level I didn’t even know existed.

And I began reading some of these articles.  Some were junk.  Some were boring.  Some were highly analytical.  Some were entertaining.  Some helped my game.  Some went right over my head.

But I read and took in a lot of new ideas, and my game changed.  Those 100-card decks were complete junk.  I could make well-tuned 60-card decks that ran circles around the old stuff.  I played in tournaments and played regularly with friends.

So I hear you ask again, what does this have to do with anything?

During that time, I found an author whose work I enjoyed tremendously, and whose contribution to the game, while a bit more layman than much of the stuff out there, introduced more real-world ideas into the psychology of the game.

Now, in 2012, I find myself reading those articles again – remembering the past and how they helped my game – but thinking about the ideas outside of the game.

And… onward to the point of all this.

————————————————————————————

– Bringing out the Dead, by John F. Rizzo

Read it.  Yes, it has a lot to do with the aforementioned Magic game, but then again, it doesn’t – and that’s the part that really has me thinking.

We all do things in this world that are primarily for our own enjoyment.  These things are called hobbies.  It’s interesting, though, to see how these hobbies, which we do for ourselves, can be scrutinized by others, who will draw conclusions about you based on the hobbies you do.

For example – the hobby Dungeons and Dragons evokes a certain image of the person playing it.  That person is probably somewhat introverted, probably nerdy and socially awkward, not in great shape, but possibly smart in that geeky sort of way.  Maybe they have a costume in the closet, attend Ren Faires, and maybe are a little too ‘in character’ when they play.

And you might not be wrong.  Magic itself isn’t too far removed from D&D, and there used to be a need to ‘hide’ the hobby, to avoid criticism like Rizzo mentions in his article.  “That game is for geeks and nerds.”

Now, in 2012, the game is more mainstream.  All sorts of people play, and it has less of the stigma that it seemed to carry before.  Like Poker, it’s been popular enough to get television time (ESPN2, I believe it was).  There are players good enough to make decent money at it.  There are ‘sponsored’ teams, worldwide tournaments, and players all over the world.

And the people playing collectively have spent years refining the game, and it’s nothing like what it used to be.

But the point of all this isn’t the game.  It’s finding something that you do because it’s a part of you.  Passion, Rizzo calls it – the state of being alive.  Not being dead.  Being proud to do what you do.  Not hiding.  Realizing that you can and should do some things for yourself, and only yourself.

And this comes back to me in 2012, not for Magic – which I still play off-and-on – but for life in general, because I’ve come to realize that passion is not an easy thing to have.  I have ‘died’ over the years, so to speak, and I can see it clearly.

I’m a superfically passionate person.  I can get into just about anything.  I have many, many ‘hobbies’, which I’ve felt I’m passionate about, but in truth, it’s very superficial, and my recent rediscovering of this article has opened my eyes wide to it.  I collect hobbies more than I do hobbies.  I can muster up passion when I look at hobbies – I can get excited when other people tell me about their hobbies.

But I’m not passionate in the way that Rizzo would call alive.  Really, in the whole Alive/Dead spectrum that he uses to describe people’s passion toward their hobbies, I’m a vampire.  I find myself listening to others, and taking in their excitement, and I can return the same enthusiasm about things I consider to be my hobbies, but when it comes down to actually devoting time to them, I don’t really come alive.

It’s an interesting feeling, ‘living’ off the vibes of others – and I see that’s what I’m doing now – and I really don’t think it’s what I want anymore.  It’s time to change that part of me.  I need to stop thinking of doing, and start doing.  I want to be able to define myself based on what I do because I want to, not based on what I do because I must.

Which brings me to my second idea in all this.  If I want to make this change, I need to conquer my ‘Bruce’.

————————————————————————————

Stuck in the Middle with Bruce, by John F. Rizzo

Read it.  Yes, it has a lot to do with the aforementioned Magic game, but then again, it doesn’t – and that’s the part that really has me thinking.

Self-fulfilling prophecy.  Setting yourself up for failure.  Not listening to that voice of reason in your head, even though you know it’s right.

My life has been full of that.  Doing what I know isn’t the smart move, because I think that I can change the outcome, even if I really know I can’t.  In my hobbies, that represents the grand ideas and high standards I set for myself when I try to do the hobbies, which leads to enough discouragement for me to switch to a different hobby and drop the previous one for a while.

With Magic, it was psyching myself out of matches, simply because I thought my opponents were better players than I was, and therefore I should lose.

With World of Warcraft, it was the idea that I could keep up with players in the top guilds on the server, but at the same time putting time into other activities, and not doing the things (practicing, research, gearing up) that was necessary to play at top level.

With my models and miniatures, it’s coming up with elaborate ideas for the crafts, ideas far beyond my current ability, or the desire to paint like the pros with experience I have, just because I’ve read the theory behind the craft, thoroughly.

With video games, it’s thinking that I must complete the game at 100% completion rate, and that anything less than that isn’t good, and giving up at the first mistake.

With my writing, it’s comparing my writing with published authors’ writings, and focusing on simply what doesn’t seem to work, without looking at what might be good.  (Also, it’s fear of criticism – which keeps me from actually putting pen to paper much of the time, which is as much Bruce as the high expectations are.)

And with my life, it’s falling off the wagon (whether it’s about getting healthy, cleaning up, or improving things in my life) at the first sign that things aren’t going as smoothly as planned.

It’s a constant battle, and one that I’ve been losing up to this point.  But admitting there is an issue is the first step to fixing the problem, or so I’ve been told.

————————————————————————————

So, for 2012, the year I say “Bring it on, I can take it!”, Bruce is my demon, and this is the year I exorcise my demons.

It’s going to take patience.  It’s going to take dedication.  It’s going to take igniting some passion for those things I’ve said to myself in the past “I want to do that!”, and putting in the time and effort to reach that point.  Life should be about the journey, not the destination, and I firmly believe that being passionate gives us the energy and the desire to stay the course.

I wonder what passion feels like?

Do you have it?

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

January 13, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , , | Leave a comment

2012 – What I hope to accomplish

Here we are, one week into 2012.  I feel as though if I don’t write things down in a list in regards to what I hope to complete this year, that by February, I’ll have no idea what I meant to do in the first place.  I’m sure I’ll add to this list mentally as the year goes on, but here’s (Il)Logical Progression’s 2012 To-Do List (in no order of importance):

  • Get out to see at least one concert – I really got into modern country music last year – Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, and a lot more.  As Brantley Gilbert sings, “Country must be country-wide…”, and it seems that Los Angeles is indeed a rather popular venue for Country Music, despite the bad rap it’s gotten over the years.  Last year’s Taylor Swift concert series (4 events) sold out practically overnight.  I’m hoping to get out to see at least one concert this year – my hope is for Lady Antebellum in March – they’re playing with Darius Rucker and Thompson Square, both of which are performers that I enjoy.  If Shinedown or Rascal Flatts gets out here this year, I’ll try for those, too.
  • Tidy up – I’ll admit, I’m not the neatest person, and I think it’s about time I get that in order.  It gets in the way of getting stuff done, leads to some damage to my things, and just shouldn’t be tolerated anymore.  I think if I can get this in order, it will lead to the next thing on this list.  This goes for my car, too.
  • Set up a place I can do my hobby work – I have a couple craft hobbies that I enjoy doing.  For those that are new to this blog, those are miniature painting and scale modeling.   Looking around at home, though, I notice that there are too many boxes that are just collecting dust for both of those hobbies, mostly because it takes me nearly 20 minutes to set up a good place to work, and another 15 minutes to close down when I’m finished.  That’s over a half hour just prepping and cleaning up a space to work!  So, if I can eliminate a majority of that time by having a dedicated workspace, I might be more inclined to actually do something with these hobbies. That goes for setting up my air compressor and airbrush this year, too.  I’ve had it for far too long to have never used it.
  • Continue writing, both here at (Il)Logical Progression, and for my ‘novel’ (?) –  Writing here lets me keep in practice, and gives me an outlet to just say whatever’s on my mind.  I don’t do that enough, and while I don’t know who’s actually reading it, it’s not really the point of it all, now, is it?  At least for the blog.  In addition, I hope I can get more chapters out for my story, and who knows what that could end up being?  The idea seems solid enough to me – who am I to keep it from taking form?
  • Get healthy – I’m honestly trying to commit to getting healthy again.  I want to eat better – but not suffer – workout more and get in somewhat athletic shape so I can do things I’d like to be able to – like basketball, golf, and bowling – without worrying about passing out.  And to that effect, I need to get my asthma under control.  It sucks, but it’s something I need to do if I a) want to do those things without risk, and b) live a longer, more comfortable life.  I’m not getting any younger.
  • Define myself – I realize that so far in my life, I’ve not really been able to say anything definitive about me – except that “I’m a quintessential Rabbit/Libra.  I’m good-natured, open-minded, prone to looking at both sides, and try hard to keep the peace,” – but I’m not really that young anymore, and I don’t really know what I want it to say on my epitaph.  I really need to figure out what that is and really work towards it – I need to stop drifting along in life.
  • Secure work – This isn’t totally in my control, but I feel like I’m off to a good start for 2012.  Fingers crossed.

And that’s what 2012 will hopefully look like for me.  I’m hoping that this list here, and the itch to update it, will keep me honest with myself in 2012.  Lord knows I need the help.

Stay tuned!

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

January 9, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , | Leave a comment

Returning to Normal? – You can’t step in the same river twice.

A new year.

It’s funny how time passes and things try to stay the same but can’t.  Work’s a funny environment – one that you often go into feeling like it’s the same every time, but in truth, it really does change.

I’ve been on loan to a different part of the company for about three months now, and tomorrow is my last day there.  I’m scheduled to return to my normal position as of Monday.

Back to my normal position, and yet… It’s not going to be the same.

A lot has happened because I’ve been working elsewhere.  Oh, it wasn’t that far from where I started out – just a short jaunt from the neighboring building – and yet, everything feels different.

My old group is about to be down two people from when I left it.

It’s going to be less social in the old group since there are so fewer people working there.

My relationships with people in my old group have changed – not necessarily weakening – just different.

I have no idea what’s in store for the future of my old group, and yet I’m being called back.

And I return with ideas – and a mindset to try to present them and rally for change.

The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy is constantly increasing, and we can look at entropy as a sort of chaos in the universe.  While inertia keeps bodies at motion in motion until another force acts upon the object, I have come to realize that we, as people in a dynamic social environment, are constantly being acted upon by social forces, even when we’re nowhere near the point of origin of the force.  It’s chaos.  It’s entropy.

My absence from my normal workgroup has changed them, and me.  I cannot deny that. I wasn’t there to affect the change, per se, but changes happened, and they have already exerted new social forces upon me.

My absence from my temporary workgroup will change them, and me.  I cannot deny that.  I won’t be there to affect the changes, but changes will happen, and will exert new social forces upon me.

It’s strange, to me, how things come to be – how the entropy swirls around, creating change, coincidence, and choice.

I foresee a lot of choices in my future – both pertaining to my job, and my social interactions – both at work and outside of work.

How work affects me is going to affect those around me when I’m not at work.  I really feel that I’m a different person socially than I was before I started work at this workplace – and while my core may not be radically different, things I do are changing.  How I look at other people is changing.  The world changes for me and around me.

Someone once said that you can’t step in the same river twice, because at the passing of each moment, the old river is no more and a new river is born, only for that particular moment.  I believe that this is true – and provable – given the radical amounts of variance that appear in the performance of systems, even under experimental conditions, no matter how good the math is, and how many factors are taken into account.  There is always a degree of error – a degree of uncertainty – a degree of entropy.

And so, as I step into 2012, I look at the world around me, and realize it’s changed since I last stopped to take a good look.  I’ve changed, too, because of it.

And I plan to change even more – to effect change, rather than be affected by it.  To take charge of what I’m doing, and where I’m going.

To live.

Because I feel like something inside me has awoken, and is screaming to get out – to get out and show the world what I’m truly made of.

Here’s to a new year – 2012 – and all that comes with it.

Interesting times?

I say bring it.  There’s strength to be found in the chaos.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

January 6, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , , | Leave a comment

A Fresh Start – Back to Basics

It’s hard to believe, sometimes, that time has passed the way it has.  It’s been over a year, almost two, since I last posted to this blog.  And a lot has changed since I started this little endeavor…

  • It’s been nearly a year since I last played World of Warcraft and even longer since I was part of Lords of the Underworld, the guild I spoke of so passionately here.  Stuff happens, I guess – that drama I spoke of previously – and it seems that no matter how one tries to avoid it, it happens.  It’s not a bad thing in the long run, though, and I still feel that the people who are still running in that guild are good people.  Differences arose, and I had to move on.  It was a good experience, too, the moving on – I met new people, led players into battle successfully in Icecrown Citadel, and helped many people get their Kingslayer title.  I even was competitive for a while, having joined a serious raiding guild – Less than Four – who gave me the chance to take my game as far as I could, and complete the normal version of Cataclysm‘s raid progression while it was fresh.  I was proud to be a part of that, and sorry to have left, but thankful that I saw the excitement of end-game content that I’d only heard about from others in this game and others.  It was quite a ride.
  • A change in work venue – change in industries (from finance to public utilities) – a change in job status (fighting to gain permanency in a temporary world).  New co-workers.  New friends.  New experiences.
  • Evolution in some of the other hobbies I’ve written about.  Magic seems more popular than ever – with card prices rising everywhere (and my brother calling me in fits trying to figure out what the best time to sell will be), and the game going more mainstream.  Warmachine/Hordes (or WarmaHordes as it’s being called unofficially now by the players) evolving into a new edition, with new rules, books, and even a new medium (the ‘Heavy Metal’ game going plastic for some of their models).  And Games Workshop, still trying to perfect the formula for making money, while boosting Privateer Press’s WarmaHordes sales at the same time…  Even my hobbies feel crazy.
  • Fantasy is becoming more mainstream.  HBO’s Game of Thrones was an awesome move to make it more accessible, while CBS’s Legend of the Seeker was not quite so much.  Brandon Sanderson seems to be creating waves, as Robert Jordan’s successor (to finish The Wheel of Time series), and on his own (The Way of Kings by all accounts puts my favorite Mistborn trilogy to shame).  Heck, even my mother’s reading fantasy due to HBO.  It’s scary.
  • Golf.  Bowling.  Going out with friends to have a good time.  I knew I was missing out on stuff.  It’s quite a ride these days, and one I’m glad to be experiencing while I’m not too old to enjoy it.  And country music…  Country must be country-wide.
  • And on a good note, I’ve finished a few games now – something that I haven’t done in a very long time.  Uncharted 1-3 and Assassin’s Creed 1 are part of a very short list of games actually finished, and I’ve got to say, there’s merit to finishing games just to see where they go, even if it’s not finished at 100% completion.  Maybe more will hit that list, soon.

And so here I am – writing again.

It’s back to basics… and I’m feeling good about it.  It’s nice to put pen to paper, or rather letters to a screen, and just talk.  To who?  I don’t know, and I don’t know if it’s that important.  And for once, I’m just talking, rather than writing in response to something I read.

Interestingly, I feel compelled to write at the moment.  Like it’s something I’ve needed to do for a while, just because expression of this nature is really a part of me, even if I’ve only done it in scattered bursts so far.

And even more strange is the fact that I never actually met that which nudged me back into writing at this time – a guinea pig named “Mortimer”.

Now, Mortimer was the guinea pig pet of a friend of mine, and has since passed on from this world, so I won’t have the chance to meet him.  He came up randomly in conversation, a conversation that had involved writing, but was mostly talk.  His owner described him as “A bitter, fat guinea pig,” and “A guinea pig everyone knew,” and while I’m not entirely sure why, it led me to talking about a story that I’d started writing over a year ago – one that I’d had ideas for, and unlike many other story ideas I’d had in the past, the ideas were still hanging around.  And I saw Morty as a small, probably fluff character in that story, which led to me talking all about that story to his owner.

And talking, and explaining, and answering questions, and thinking, and forwarding a copy of the only existing chapter.

And the more I thought about it, the closer my pen came to paper.

And here I am – dusting off this blog and writing again.

Images of Mortimer the guinea pig familiar, riding on the shoulder of his owner-mage got me thinking about all the other ideas I’ve had for my story.  I’ve begun to think again about pseudomagic and souls, terms which are relatively meaningless at this point, but could lead to something.  A set of twins – priestesses opposite in look and personality, but both facets of an old friend who had lent me her ear the first time I tried to work on this idea.  A foreign merchant – good-hearted but oddly distrusting, to the point that he “wouldn’t do business with himself”, if the situation arose.  And the end of the first part of the story, clear as a movie scene in my mind, and yet, who knows what it will look like on paper?

In the end, I feel that I need to get this out there, just to see what could be.  For an audience of one or an audience of thousands, it doesn’t matter.  My friend, the one who will be lending me Mortimer, at least, has agreed to test-read this stuff, so I have an audience.  It feels a bit strange.

But I’m on the path again.  I’m looking down that road to the horizon, and I don’t see a destination.

My foot moves, and I find myself walking again, down that path,  and I’m smiling.

On the road next to me, a bitter, fat guinea pig is scampering along.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

December 30, 2011 Posted by | General Musings | , , | Leave a comment

A return to blogging?

I sure hope so. I’ve been really busy recently considering all that’s changed since I last looked at my stuff. It’s a bit amazing that anyone’s looked at this place at all since my last post, but for that I thank you all who have come to look.

A bit about what’s up on my end – I’ve finally gotten past the long dark void that is the rough cycle of my job, though it’s not that much easier at the moment. I hit 80 a long time ago… and I’ve gotten heavy into raiding. I’ve left the mindset that was Unholy, and I’m running Blood (DPS) and Frost (Tank), and I’m pretty happy. My gear is getting there, and my skills are definitely coming up. My guild is starting to raid, and while it’s a little different than it was before (not as casual a feel), it still seems to be holding together. We’re closer as a guild, but less social, take that for what you will.

Still, it’s fun, and I hold to my previous posts. I hate soloing now, and I’m glad to have people to share my WoW experience with. That group is growing, too, as I meet people from the other guilds we’re raiding with. Groups are quicker to come together for the higher level content.

I do wish for some lower stuff some days, though. I’ll work on it.

As for the rest of my happenings – I managed to win my Fantasy Basketball league at my workplace, which netted me some nice cash for spending on something completely extraneous… (I think I picked up a DVD set or two with it, but I don’t exactly remember), Tales of Vesperia will be making a debut on PS3 in September… and a few other things here and there keeping me on my toes (Beatles RockBand, anyone?)

In any case, I hope to have more regular updates here – certainly better than a multi-month unannounced hiatus.

Again, thank you to anyone who is still reading this.  I WILL be back soon.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

August 31, 2009 Posted by | General Musings, World of Warcraft | , , , | 1 Comment