Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Eye of the World - Preface

The preface of the first book of the wheel of time starts with rich descriptions. It paints a vivid picture of stone house or mansion gone made and then describes a mad man in the center of it, the dragon. Shortly after that the nemesis shows his face, but also reveals that while he's quite evil, he is not the one responsible for all of this. Some exposition follows and while almost nothing is very clear you get an understand of the events that have been going on recently and the fact that these two men were powerful players for opposing sides, and that while the good won its victory was at a terrible cost. After that our doomed hero commits suicide (though arguably unintentionally) and our villain foreshadows that the world itself isn't quite as doomed as it looks, it is after all still the preface.

The overall feeling I got was one of frustration and sorrow. Part of those feelings comes from having read the series and knowing that Ishmael simply wants to end it all and the victory of the shadow is only valuable as it would, theoretically anyways, remove him from the cycle of rebirth. Lews Therin on the other hand produced a lot of heartbreak in this passage. First you see him mad and think that, perhaps, it is all for the best. From there you see his painful return to sanity and him rising in righteous anger against the one who, in his initial thoughts, caused his utter devastation. And finally you see him realize that he caused this, the reasoning behind it (the taint and what caused the taint) is almost ignored by his feelings, all he can think about was that it was his hands that destroyed all he loved.

Honestly there wasn't much to learn in this passage, and not much that really applied to my life either. If anything the main lesson was, perhaps, one of restraint. In his sorrow Lews Therin committed suicide after he was healed from the madness, but perhaps the world might have turned out differently if he hadn't. Maybe if he'd restrained himself he could have helped right some of the wrongs that he had caused. Of course it's a fiction book so conjuncture over what might have been is even more pointless than it usually is (and it's usually pretty pointless).

Well folks, there you have it; my first chapter review. Not much to look at, but honestly there wasn't a lot to write about, barely 17 minutes on an audio tape. I may try and look at the literary trappings for chapters and how they're written in the future, might give me more to write about when I don't see much in the way of plot or life lessons.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Slaying Dragons and Rescuing Princesses

One of the most common things I remember hearing growing up is that every girl wants to be a princess and every boy wants to be a hero, or some variation of that idea. I can't comment to much on what girls want, I rarely know what my wife or daughters want much less the whole gender, but I know I always wanted to be a hero.

All the books I read, movies I watched, and games I played were always about the epic storyline. Sure I read short books about cowboys and played first person shooters like Call of Duty (when I was older anyways) but I always go back to my favorites, the epic storylines. Series like the Wheel of Time where these nobodies from the most isolated backwater dump end up saviors of the world. Games like Final Fantasy 9 where a thief stumbles across a cause greater than himself and steps to the side to help a Princess rescue her mother, and then the world. And I wonder now if my attachment to these games has become, or always has been, unhealthy.

As I've grown older I've become more and more dissatisfied while becoming less and less of the worker I used to be. Some of this is due to options, after all while in highschool I had a very limited number of books to read and zero video games until the very end (my senior year I bought a PS1 and FF9). It was around this time I also started playing Retromud (no real epic story lines, but lots and lots of positive reinforcement when you did cool things and the entire game is extremely cooperative) and doing worse in school.

I've played retro and other video games on and off in the last 12 years since graduating highschool and I believe I may have come across the worst thing they have to offer: escapism. And I believe it is in fact worse than the escapism offered by books, especially when I was younger. In a book I can read about how cool Matrim Cauthon is and how he runs around saving the world, I can even daydream about it, but in the end he's not me. Also when I was younger there was a limited number of books I could read so I couldn't flit from one fantasy to another, eventually I was driven to create something of my own or return to the normal world and look for something there. At that point I can begin to try and emulate the heroes I read about and apply the lessons learned there to my life. With video games however there is variation to the story and with multiplayer games you have other real people telling you how awesome you are.

Now, I could study a language for months and learn to speak it, I could dedicate myself to my studies and receive good grades, I could even become perfect, or nearly so, at my job and all these things will earn me some praise, but likely not huge amounts since I am, to some extent, expected to do these things. In the real world people are expected to do moderate to good, otherwise there are clear and specific punishments. You could lose your job, your children could get taken away, you could lose your house, etc. There is always a very real threat that something unescapably bad will happen to you if you screw up enough, this causes people to treat others in a fashion fitting the setting: I'm not going to praise you for doing good, because you're probably only doing it to avoid the consequences and society can always replace you with someone who wants it more.

Lets contrast this to video games. Give me a month, tops for most games, and I can reach the maximum level in a multiplayer game or a level capable of participating in the high end of that game's content and, so long as I'm nice and friendly, I will be lauded with praise. People will talk about how impressive it is that I did it so fast, I can practice and be knowledgeable and they'll praise me for my skill at end game content. Why? Because we as gamers have learned that if people are not thanked for the good things they do then they will stop doing them, after all why continue spending your time/money/effort somewhere you're not thanked? The game community is directly punished if there are not enough moderate/good players around, so there is abounding praise for them. And while I know this and will sometimes consciously dish out praise for that exact reason...well, it still works when someone praises me back.

So what does this lead to? Well, I don't want to make time for the real world because people in it don't thank me for every little thing I do, not that I thank them, after all I expect them to do it. I'm not sure exactly what the point of this post is other than to talk about my realization and to flesh out some of my thoughts about whether I should just stop playing video games entirely. Yes I will certainly go through withdrawals and I don't think that is too harsh of a word. But in the end the fact that I feel a need to play video games leads me to believe it's not healthy. I mean, it seems that everything people can't give up without feeling withdrawal is a bad thing and can be counted as a drug.

Mirriam-Webster defines a drug as something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness. Now video games, at least the ones I play, are not illegal, and you might argue they aren't a substance. But do they cause addiction? Habituation? A marked change in consciousness? Without a doubt.

I guess all this to say I think I need to stop playing video games, all of them. I have a marked desire to do something with my life and make an impact. Video games offer an easy solution where I can make someone else's life easier or more enjoyable, but mostly in a meaningless way. I'm not saying I will suddenly become an amazing husband/father/worker/student if I stop playing video games, but I am saying I think it's a step in the right direction.

As always feel free to comment if you think I'm going silly or have some sort of input for me.

*Edit: The quote I was thinking of was from John Eldredge's book Wild at Heart: "Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue." Had to call home to figure out I was remembering it wrong.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stress and Over commitment

Hello again my adoring public,

So, the last time we got together I made a number of grandiose claims of how I was going to spend my time and what I was going to do in order to help better myself in delightful ways...

Well, with some of those I've been doing very well. I only logged into Facebook once, and that was to pull up something from a conversation, didn't even click on the 98 (98!) notifications I had. Video games I've also been doing fairly well with, though not entirely of my own volition (more on that later). I've logged into Retromud a couple times to check things but haven't actually *played* which I'll take as something...so still improvements to be done there!

Then there was that itsy bitsy manner of writing chapter reviews on, well, everything I read. And that has hilariously gone out the window. I took good notes and wrote one for a chapter out of one of my Project Management books, took notes for another, and rapidly dissolved into just not having the time/brain power for the effort. As for my Bible reading...well I didn't read almost at all during ALS so I'm still working feverishly to catch up, which is hard to do when you start over a month behind and days won't stop passing, so no time to write right now, but maybe once I'm caught up I'll try and do something. Especially with some of the chapters from Psalms and Isaiah, a couple times I've thought it'd make a really good writing topic since it stirred them feelings, but every time I push on to try and eat a few more chapters to catch up. And fiction I still plan on doing it with, but I haven't read any fiction and don't know when I'm going to have time to read any...

Now that we've re-hashed some of what I talked about last time let us move on to the juicy new bits. As some of you may or may not know I'm not the biggest fan of my Job (not really getting into what I do because privacy, but feel free to email me and depending on if I actually know you or not I'll explain what I do). In addition to the normal part of my Job I've also been assigned as an assistant training manager, something I was initially excited about, and now just busy with. On top of that I received an additional Job that I ignored for the last few months (the last guy said it I didn't actually have to do anything with it and I believed him like the idiot I was). Come to find out not only is there stuff to do with it but there is an inspection on whether I've been doing the stuff...this month. So I've been scrambling to get that covered.

The combination of the school and the triple jobs I've been feeling incredibly stressed. To the point that after running at the gym (did I mention I have a PT test next week?) I felt about as close as I ever had to having some sort of panic attack/meltdown and nearly toyed with the idea of telling my supervisor that I don't give a flying fiddlers fart about any of this. Now, that's not actually entirely true but it would probably get me out of some of my additional work (and my line number for a promotion that will bring more, guess what, work), and probably streamline my leaving my Job in a couple years when my contract is up.

Oh, and I've been working on learning Japanese when I have spare time. This may sound like an additional stressor, but it's actually somewhat soothing, at least it is when I don't suck (I don't do it after 2am or the anger comes out).

Welp, that about wraps it up for now I think. If you have any tips for how to handle stress and over commitments when you can't actually take something away please let me know, I could clearly use the help.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Ramble ramble

Hello yet again! I'm rather sure I don't have any readers anymore, but any that have stuck around have probably noticed that 4 out of 5 of the last five posts have pointed to the new website, where I never really quite got around to regularly establishing a blog. Welp, I've decided that it's really not worth the effort and will just use this in hopes of actually writing more. Now, what will I be writing about? Well as always a rambling hodgepodge of this and that and tit for tat, but for January at least I plan on documenting some of the larger changes I've decided to make in my life. These changes are quite possibly unimportant and potentially meaningless but also have the potential for great meaning and vast import. I'll document the changes below and explain why I *think* they may well have meaning.
First off I've largely decided to give up on social media (Facebook/Twitter). For the most part I have nothing against either of them. They're excellent means of communicating for some people and can really be really useful in their own ways I suppose. However, what was *I* using them for? I don't have a good answer for that. Mostly I just scrolled meaninglessly down my feed in the hopes of finding something worth looking into, which usually took the form of something I found funny for one reason or another. On rare occasions I would find something that I really wanted to talk about. And would then get involved in an argument in the comments with, typically, random strangers. And you know what they say about arguing with random strangers on the internet... That said I will be leaving my Facebook account in place as I use Facebook messenger on my phone and there are some people I only communicate with through that medium that I don't want to lose track of, twitter on the other hand should be gone in 30 days and will free up that username for someone else to use and abuse. Oh, and I looked up my ancient MySpace account, agreed to the new terms and agreements that they put in since I last logged in, and then deleted it as well.
Next up I've decided not to play video games when my wife is awake or when I have a school assignment due within the next 7 days. There are a few exceptions to the rule about not playing when my wife is awake. First it doesn't count if she's in another state or country, second it doesn't count if I'm playing the video game with her or as part of a party she's at (IE: Rockband at a friendly get together), and third Clash of Clans doesn't count (for now) as she plays it and it "requires" regular attention. I'm still working on how I feel about Clash of Clans not being banned, but for now her and my brother both play it and if I'm going to play it you kinda need to play throughout the day...so yeah, we'll see if it stays unbanned or if I just give up on it, or maybe learn about moderation (ha!).
Finally I plan on doing a new and interesting thing with my reading (whether Biblical, educational, or fiction) and start writing a chapter summation for each chapter I read. This summation will be at least 1 paragraph consisting of 3 sentences at minimum, and it will convey something meaningful about the passage. The main 3 areas I plan on writing about are how the passage made me feel, what it taught me, how it applies to my life, a combination of those, or something else if it strikes a nerve. My summation will be written before I read the next passage of that type, so I have to write about Psalms 7 before Psalms 8 but not necessarily before I read a chapter for my school homework. There are 3 main purposes to this reading/writing plan.
  • First it forces me to remember what I just read in a meaningful way so as to explain it to others.
  • Second it will help me learn to write about ideas quickly.
  • Third but not least it will push me to consider what I read and think more critically about what I choose to read, especially with fiction (I sometimes skim crass parts of a book and look back at it thinking it was all sunshine and roses when there was some trashy stuff in there).
Some of those summations may wind up on this blog if I think they're particularly profound, but most will probably just get filed away for future reference in case I ever wonder what I thought about the second chapter of the first book of the Wheel of Time series...yeah...

Well I think that's about it for now, except to note that none of this actually has to do with new years resolutions so much as noticing issues I want to change in my life and using lessons I learned in ALS (which I graduated on 17 Dec) to help address them. Please feel free to comment, question, or request that I give you my bank account information so I can help you get your funds out of Nigeria before the latest evil regime steals it in exchange for a moderate cut of your vast wealth.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Site! ...Again

Just throwing this up to inform anyone who happened to have forgotten to remove my feed that my new site is up over at wauson.org and should see an update sometime later today.

Also most of my characters are named Beriah now, mostly due to my wife using Vishni. Ishvi/Vishni just seemed weird, soooooooooo backup names ftw! Anyhoo, see ya elsewhere!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Home Visit January 7th Tuesday at 9:30 AM

We have a home visit scheduled for January 7th on Tuesday at 9:30 am. Make sure that works for you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ze end has come!

Welp, this will be my last post here. I finally got a blog working on my main site sonofwau.com. So all future updates will be there.

Just a word of warning about the site, the RSS works, but not for chrome. I don't have safari to test that, but I assume since IE and Firefox work that Safari will.

As for the old posts here...I'll probably move them over to the new blog slowly. At least the important ones, wow ones and really random ones (like the ones where I whine about not posting enough) I might not move.

Anyhoo, new post up at the new blog. And...

~joe/ish out