Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just Two Feet

For about the third time in just as many weeks as I was pulling up to pay for my breakfast at the McDonald's drive through, I stopped behind the person in front of me who was in the process of paying.

So they pay and pull forward, but only just a little. They don't pull up all the way behind the car that is picking up their meal. There must be a gap of 2-3 feet. The result? I can't pull up to the cashier and pay for my meal.

I'm reminded of that old George Carlin routine - how all other drivers besides you are either idiots or maniacs (RIP George Carlin!). I'd swear there is a population of drivers that are totally oblivious to anyone else out there.

I'll be the first to admit, I make the occasional boneheaded mistake driving, but in general I try to drive in a way that takes into account how I might affect people around me. I don't block intersections, I always pull up as far as I can, and in heavy traffic and merge situations, I try to fairly let people in (sometimes to the protest of those behind me!)

So if you drive and are reading this, don't leave gaps when you're going through the drive through, just pull up as far as you can. Most of the time it might not make a difference, but every so often someone behind you is really going to appreciate it, and that includes me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How I Play World of Warcraft

I consider myself somewhat antisocial. I’m not into group activities much. I only have a few close friends. So why in the world am I playing an MMORPG at all?

I’ve always liked RPG games. I played the original game “Adventure” on an HP3000 I would telnet to from school when I was supposed to be looking up college information for people. And I’ve played plenty of other RPG and adventure type games on all types of systems. I’ve always enjoyed them.

In addition, I love games where you have to find everything. I know these games drive some people nuts, but I really like finding it all, unlocking hidden endings, etc. I still dig out Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie every once in a while, but my favorite collecting game was Donkey Kong 64. In that game you could tell if you found everything in an area. So I loved checking the list, and seeing that I had one more banana to find. It used to drive my kids nuts – “Just go to the next area!” they’d shout. Alright, alright. Then when they’d be in bed, I’d go back and find what I missed.

So then a couple of years ago I decided to try a trial of World of Warcraft. And I loved it. Did I run instances with groups of people? Nope. Did I join raids? Nope. In fact I hardly ever joined a group or guild for anything.

I tooled around solo for almost everything and only grouped if someone directly asked me for a little help when we happened to be working on the same thing. I didn’t add people to my friends list, in fact one particularly chatty person has caused me not to play one of my characters until the wee hours of the morning because they seemed to have latched onto me and always want to talk when I show up online.

On a very simple level, my pleasure of finding things transfers to working on skills or finding a complete set of armor, or specific weapons and such. I’m going to get my fishing to 215. I’m going to get all the pieces for this armor set. I can tell you, it sometimes takes more than a month to collect what I’m looking for, and so a character may sit doing nothing other than checking the auction house for weeks and weeks.

And of course I’ve got a nice little matrix of all possible character and class combinations, and I’m making sure as I make characters to always use a new combination – no repeats! Don’t even get me started on all the little checklists I’ve made. All recipes available at vendors from what faction, and on and on.

And Professions – I love leveling up those, finding recipes – I can’t remember how long it took me to get the shadow hood recipe for my tailor! And I love optimizing leveling them. What uses the least materials, or at least sells well.

There are wonderful websites like,, and that just add to my enjoyment of the game and looking up things I could find.

And then the whole process of twinking a character is fun as well. Farming or combing the auction house for what I need. And plying the auction house to make money. I love flipping items that I find under-priced.

All of these kinds of things let me satisfy my OCDish tendencies. But really, I could do similar enough activities on non-multiplayer games. So when WoW is mostly about Multi-player possibilities, why don’t I just play a console RPG? Then I wouldn’t have to deal with other people.

But there’s just something about being in that multi-player environment that I really like, even though I don’t want to chat and group with other players. I like all the random stuff having all the other people there brings to the game. The environment is dynamic, it’s a living world instead of a place waiting around for you.

Also, different than a console RPG, I’m not the center of the story. I can do whatever I want basically. I could level up without doing any quests at all if I liked. I get to be a bit player instead of the central figure.

What’s interesting is how much that mirrors how I like to work in real life as well. Which leads to the bigger question, how much does how people behave in MMORPGs reflect how they behave in real life? Considering some of the behavior I’ve seen, I certainly hope it doesn’t in most cases. But I still get a kick out of seeing the crazy stuff some people do, so I'll be playing for quite some time to come I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Favorite Quotes

I have a few favorites quotes, I thought I'd jot them down here for fun...

"Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right." - Laurens van der Post

"It's most often the small things, done consistently in strategic place, that make the most difference." - David Allen

"Who benefits? -- is always a useful question to ask about deeply entrenched and widely accepted practice." - Alfie Kohn

And I need to find the attribution on this one...

"It's inevitable and normal to see our lives as narratives of our own creation, but it becomes a problem when we mistake the stories in our minds for The Truth." - who said this?

And from a true sage...

"Secretly, I'm a little naive." - Spongebob

And finally one from me...

"Anything worth doing is worth questioning." - me

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I don't count?

At some point I volunteered to fill out a VET-100 form for the company I work for. I figured I’d do it because I had served 6.5 years during the Cold War, and that it would be nice to count for the company when it came to hiring veterans.

So I dutifully printed out the form and to my surprise, Cold War veterans are not counted to this purpose. The form counted the following groups –

- Special Disabled Veteran
- Veteran of the Vietnam-Era
- Other Veterans – (served between 1941-1952 OR if you served on active duty in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized)
- Newly Separated Veterans (left military within the past year)

So basically my service doesn’t count for this purpose since the Cold War was never given campaign status.

Although it has faded now, I can’t begin to tell you how tense things were at that time (I served in the 80s). During my service, the job I did saw the busiest time in its history, we actually received a Meritorious Unit Commendation because of how much we had to deal with.

I guess veteran’s groups have been trying to get the Cold War Era declared as a campaign. It will be interesting if that ever comes about. But I don’t know how well people will remember how it felt, regardless. And I’m guessing veterans of all the different wars must feel similarly about their own experiences as well. But at least they count. :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rolling the World

Most days I go for a walk at least once. Sometimes I’m walking with a friend, but most often I’m walking alone. Usually I’ve got a tune in my head to try to keep a quick tempo to my step. I used to use Darth Vadar’s Theme from Star Wars Episode V – that’s got a great pace to it. My current favorite is the track “The Raising Fighting Spirit” which I’m assuming is a mistranslation of the name of the track, but it’s from the show Naruto (did I mention I love Naruto?)

But sometimes on a walk I like to play a little mental game. I imagine that I’m actually standing in one spot and rotating the earth under my feet like a clown on a large ball at the circus. This works best if you have a nice straight area to walk. Just a bit of focus and suddenly it feels real, like each foot step is rolling this immense ball under my feet.

Next time you go for a walk try it out. And if some mornings you notice something odd going on with the earth’s rotation between 4:00 and 4:30 AM, now you know what’s going on. :)