Tag Archive for life

The happy secret to better work

Let me begin with a video. Take 12 minutes and 21 seconds and watch it. I’ll be here when you are done.

I love TED talks. I’ve posted a number of them before. This one, however, struck a chord with me because it touches on ideas that I have had for myself for years.

Be happy now, not later.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short post about my philosophy on work. Whether you saw it at the time, the central premise behind it is that you should be happy with the job you have while you have it, even if you don’t like it and are looking for something else. Being happy with your job, even if it is just being happy with doing your job well although the job itself sucks, is the beginning of a ripple that will affect everything else in your life and everyone around you. You might hate your job, but face it, if the boss pulls you aside to tell you how awesome you are at the job, you feel great. And if your job is managing people, remember that telling people about the good things they do can actually have an impact on places they need to improve. Lead with bad news, then close with a few comments about the good stuff they do. You’ll actually bolster their spirit and that alone may be enough for them to improve in those problem areas. If all you do is yell at an employee, perhaps you should do both of you a favor and let them go, because your constant berating and never telling them anything positive is, for most people, actually going to make them perform worse, not better.

There is an old saying about crying over spilt milk and how you shouldn’t do it that no one these days really understands because who would ever cry over spilt milk? But the point of the saying is another thing I’ve talked about for years. The point is, once the milk is spilt, just clean it up. You gain nothing from being distraught or upset over the loss of the milk. It’s trivial. It’s not like a parent died or anything. Too many people spend too much time worrying about and being upset at things that have already happened and can’t be changed. They wind themselves up in knots, making themselves unhappy over past failures when they should be accepting them, learning from them, and moving forward.

Now, that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t care about stuff that happened, but it does mean that you shouldn’t let it cripple you. And you aren’t going to just wipe it off and move on like nothing happened. No, the point is that you understand what happened, resolve to do better, and integrate the experience into who you are to make you better. Why did you spill the milk? Could it have been avoided? In the future, let’s try not to spill milk.

But how do we get better and being better?

The sticking point for most people is that everything they’ve been taught in their lives has led them to the road described in the video: that happiness comes after success.

I suggest taking to heart the list at the end of the video. You need to actively work at changing the way you approach life. Make sure you take the time to acknowledge and dwell on the positive good things in your life and not spend all your time focusing on problems and the stress of working toward future success and future happiness.

If you need a little push, you might consider giving SuperBetter a try. Jane McGonigal has been pushing “gamification” for a long time, and she’s finally unveiled her new project. This website isn’t going to fix your life, but if you work it you might find that using your old/current mindset of chasing achievements can be redirected into things that may help you be happier now and not later.

I haven’t spent much time at that site, so I can’t speak on its effectiveness. But if you know me, or can sleuth out my email from the site, feel free to hit me up as an ally.

Man vs Wife: The Game of Life

Man vs WifeThe Game of Life, or sometimes just called LIFE, was originally created in 1860 by Milton Bradley and it looked absolutely nothing like the game we know today. It was a modified checker board and included a six-sided teetotem instead of dice. You tried to land on “good” space and collect a total of 100 points, you could earn 50 by reaching the final “Happy Old Age” square. But in 1960, on the 100th anniversary of the game, it was redesigned and re-released in the form that we know it today. The teetotem was replaced with a spinner wheel for movement and a winding track that included three-dimensional elements: bridges, mountains and buildings. And the points system for scoring was replaced with money. Players are given start-up money, a car and a peg, representing them, to drive the car. And away they go.

The Game Of Life

Isn't it pretty?

There are many versions of The Game of Life available. For our game, we played the Target exclusive Vintage Game Classics edition. We bought it, and others in this series, because of the look of the box. It makes for a better display than a traditional cardboard board game box. Of course, the trade-off of the nifty and compact design is that it takes longer to set up. Other versions you just unfold the board and are done. This one you have to unfold the board (eight sections instead of two) and then put all the buildings, mountains and bridges on it, and the spinner. The design is nice, but it makes for a spinner that is less stable – it works, just don’t get crazy with it. Since it was the first time we’d opened this box, we also had to unwrap all the money and bank notes, as well as separate the little plastic people, which in the old days were just straight pegs but now have little arms down the side. My wife decided to be female and chose a pink peg. I decided to be male and chose a pink peg.

We read the rules. Neither of us had played the game in years and we felt certain that there had been some house rules in play, so we decided to stick to the printed rules for our game. I switched my pink peg for a blue one, because the rules state that males are blue and females are pink. It seems The Game of Life is pretty set into its gender roles, although it really doesn’t matter because they’re just pegs on a game board and not a judgement of the players. They could be green pegs and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference. But I digress…

So we spin the wheel and I get the lowest roll, I’m the banker. I control ALL THE MONEY! (Wife: Just like real life.) Hey, do you want to do the math? (Wife: Do you want me to do the math?) No. I set up the bank and give each of us $10,000 to start. We put our cars on the board and spin to see who goes first. (Wife: I win!)

I explain the rules of the board. Yellow squares you do only if you land on them, same as Gold squares. Red squares you have to do as you pass, no choice. And White squares you CAN do if you want as you pass.

Immediately I recall the house rules of youth as we take our early turns. She gets her career, a physician, and heads out. (Wife: I also caught an escaped lion!) I get my career, a journalist, and land on the tornado square that makes me go back to the start. In the old days we tried to hit this spot because we let that person get two jobs! But that’s actually against the rules.

We both bought auto insurance at the start, and we bought life insurance as we pass it. And they work in-game just like in real life, sort of. You buy them and then if nothing ever happens to you it seems like a waste of cash, but if you don’t have them and land on one of those squares it can be very expensive. Unlike real life though, you don’t have to keep paying for it. Oh, and I also captured an escaped lion. (Wife: I think they need to hire better zookeepers.)

You have to get married. You cannot play, nor win, at Life unless you get married. The game takes no position on gay marriage, however specifically states that if you get sent back past the marriage spot you cannot get married again. (Wife: No Big Love or Sister Wives.) No divorce either. The Game of Life is very optimistic in some respects.

(Wife: Lucky Day!) In one of the strange rules of the game, landing on a Lucky Day spot you get $20,000 from the bank, which you can keep or spend on two numbers and spin for a chance to win $300,000. (Wife: I bet the money every time.) And you lost every time. (Wife: I know.) Which is why I’m in charge of the money. (Wife: Shut up.)

We both buy stock. There are some rules about playing the market, she does it twice and I never do. (Wife: Playing the market sucks.) Just like real life! The only reason I bought stock is because of squares that state “If you own stock…” and then you collect a bunch of money. Completely not like real life.

At various places in the game you can get kids, either by having them or adopting them. At one point I have to choose between having a daughter or collecting $480,000. I choose the daughter. I am an idiot. Because I’m obsessed with science fiction, I keep track of my “other path” the rest of the game. Alternate Reality me is rich, handsome and a world traveler. I have 4 kids, took a vacation on a polluted lake and had a millionaire take revenge on me. (Wife: hehe!) A pox on the 1%! Occupy the Game of Life! (Wife: I have a gold mine!) Shut up. I discovered Atlantis! (Wife: I won the Nobel Peace Prize!) I went fishing. (Wife: I went to the Arctic!) We digress…

She crosses the bridge first, which means that when I eventually catch up I’ll have to pay the toll. She also lands of the Day of Reckoning first, obviously. (Wife: I win!) Not yet. She gets $96,000 for her 2 kids. She spins and crosses into Millionaire. (Wife: I win!) Nope. She spins one more time for her lucky number, which for the rest of the game I have to pay her if I spin it. (Wife: Why didn’t I win?) Because I’m not dead yet, and it’s the person with the most money when they die that wins. (Wife: Really?) No. But also, yes.

I finally drag myself across the finish line. I earn $192,000 for my 4 kids. We both get $120,000 for owning stock, $8,000 for having life insurance, and we count up the money. (Wife: I win!) She wins. (Wife: I win!) You said that already. (Wife: I know … I win!)

Final tally:
Me – $1,117,000
Her – $1,825,000

The primary problem with The Game of Life is that if the first person across the finish line doesn’t go for Millionaire Tycoon and win, then it just sort of drags out. Eventually everyone crosses the finish and we go into accounting, and only after the mathematics is done do we know who won. Kind of a wimpy end for the game.

The second problem with this game is that it is extremely linear with almost no choices for the player. There are only 3 places where you can choose between two paths, and the final Tycoon choice. The game has rules where you can spend money of wheel spins. It gives you the opportunity to lose lots of money, but playing straight through it’s pretty much just luck of the spin.

The game plays better with more players. Being linear and having a rule that two players can’t be on the same space matters more when the chance of it happening is higher. I’d recommend at least 4 players, and the game comes with 6 cars.

Anyway…

Man, 0. Wife, 1.

(Wife: I win!)

If you could ask God one question what would it be?

At some point in everyone’s life, be it because they are totally baked or just because it happens to everyone eventually, they’ll have this discussion. If you could ask God one question what would it be?

To begin with, I think it is important to frame the question properly. Which God are you talking to? The Christian God? Allah? Yahweh? Zeus? Odin? Any one of literally dozens and dozens of gods that have paraded through the world over the thousands of years that man has been worshiping them?

The next thing would be to understand the circumstances under which you are being allowed to ask the question. For starters, if you have died and are standing in Heaven talking to God, then that alone answers a whole mess of questions. I mean, because if you were in Valhalla instead of Heaven then just by virtue of being there you’ve answered a pile of questions.

In the end however, none of that matters, because the only question I would ask God, no matter which god it is or under what circumstances, is “If you could ask God one question what would it be?” I figure God would probably know what the most important question in all of creation is, and once I know that I, being a pretty smart fellow, could probably arrive at the answer myself.

Unless God is a dick and tells me that the question he’d ask God would be “If you could ask God one question what would it be?” That’d be just plain mean.

Ask me anything

What I Read

I don’t maintain a blogroll here, or even links of any kind to other sites unless they are within posts.  However, in a fit of narcissism I decided that I would post a list of links to all the sites that are contained within my Google Reader.  So without further ado, presented here in alphabetical order, and in one giant ugly paragraph, is what I read:

.: Cedarstreet :., < witty title >, A Next-Gen-MMORPG, A Softer World, A Tree Falling in the Forest, Anyway Games, Applied Game Design, Basic Instructions, bbPress Blog, Bio Break, Brass Goggles, Brea Grant, Broken Toys, Clients From Hell, Coding Horror, Corvus & the IGDA, Crabapple Cove, Critical Distance, crowdSPRING Blog, Daily Dragon Online, daspetey, David Wellington, DESIGNER NOTES, Digital Diary Detailing Datamancer’s Deeds, Digital Gaming@Dragon*Con, Dinosaur Comics, DOGHOUSE, Don’t Fear the Mutant, Dragon*Con MMO, Dragon*ConTV, DragonCon, DreamHost Status, Eating Bees, Elder Game, Epic Slant, Ethos Incarnate, Experience Curve, Felicia Day, Fidgit, Fullbright, Fun in Games, Fun in Real Life, Game Design Concepts, Game Design Reviews, GARY WHITTA, Geek Girl in Training, Grim News, Grumpy Gamer, Hark, A Vagrant!, Heartless_ Gamer, I HAS PC, ihobo, indexed, International Game Developers Association Board, into survival., James Van Der Memes, Karnatos, Kieron Gillen’s Workblog, Kill Ten Rats, Killed in a Smiling Accident., Kung Fu Monkey, LevelCapped, Lost Garden, Man Bytes Blog, Middle and Up, MMOData.net, Mobhunter.com, Moo Tang Clan, Mumble, My Name Is Michael, National Novel Writing Month – Breaking News, Nerdist, Nerfbat, Netflix – New choices to watch instantly, Netflix Community Blog, Not Always Right | Funny & Stupid Customer Quotes, not much’a nothin’, On Beyond Zebra, One Of A Crowd, Online Games Are a Niche Market, Only a Game, Over00, PARA ABNORMAL – the comic, paulietoons, paulneuhaus.com, Penny Arcade, Picture’s Up, Play Like a Girl, Popnarcotic, PostSecret, Psychochild’s Blog, PvPonline, Quarter to Three, Radioactive State, Rands In Repose, Raph’s Website, Real Life Comics, Running With My Eyes Closed, Scott Hartsman – Off the Record, screen play, Script Frenzy – The Beat, Sexy Videogameland, Shakefire.com blogs, ShrinkGeek, ShutterDreams, Smed’s Blog, Stylish Corpse, Surviving The World, Symptom of a Greater Cure, T=Machine, Tami Baribeau, Teaching Game Design, Terra Nova, Texas State Word, That’s a Terrible Idea, The Ancient Gaming Noob, The Banstick, The Brainy Gamer, The Celtx Blog, The Common Sense Gamer, The GameDev Project, The Grouchy Gamer, The HoneyComb Engine, The Internet Crashed, The Mod Squad. Blog., The Oakstout, The Oatmeal – Comics, Quizzes, & Stories, The Office of Letters and Light, The Official DreamHost Blog!, The Psychology of Video Games, The Word of Notch, This Side… Down, Tish Tosh Tesh, Tobold’s MMORPG Blog, Twitter Blog, Undead Labs – News, Van Hemlock, We Fly Spitfires – MMORPG Blog, Welcome to Spinksville!, West Karana, WIL WHEATON dot NET: in exile, Wolfshead Online, WordPress Development Blog, Words from Ward, WorldIV, xkcd.com, You Got Red On You, You Might As Well Be Unemployed, zen habits, Zen of Design, Zombie Reporting Center

Make of this what you will.

Left 4 Mods

Lately, I’ve been down on PC games.  Playing stuff on my Xbox 360 is just easier.  I don’t have to worry about if my graphics card is going to be good enough or if I have enough RAM or a fast enough processor, I just put in the disc and play.  And when I get a job, or when Christmas rolls around, I’ll be getting Left 4 Dead for the 360.  However, the PC does have one advantage, and that is mods.

Being like every other First Person Shooter that has come before it, Left 4 Dead will allow people to make their own maps and their own custom modified rules.  And, just like every other First Person Shooter that has come before it, 99% of those maps and mods will be crappy.  For every awesome map that comes out, there will be at least a couple dozen that play for shit and cause the server to clear when it comes up in the rotation.  And for every incredible mod that comes out, there will be a couple dozen retarded super sniper invisible wall hack cheater mobs where the rules their designers came up with don’t make the game more fun they just allow you to more easily annoy other people.  However, eventually, like every game before it, the maps and mods will settle down.  The crap will get flushed and the best maps and mods will becomes standards.

Lets just hope that after having two games, Half-Life and Half-Life 2, which had a number of very nice maps and mods done for them, Valve thought ahead about how to deliver that sort of content to the console.  It would be nice if in a couple of months they had made deals with a number of map developers out there and put up a Community Map Pack in the Marketplace at 800 points, or something like that.  Or new mods for the game, available for 1600 points.  That would be something… especially when there is someone out there making the entire Crossroads Mall from the remake of Dawn of the Dead:

A man can dream…

Synchronicity

Oddly enough, on the same day that a Democrat member of the House of Representatives announces that he’d like to legalize casual personal use of marijuana, Cheech & Chong announce they are planning to go back on the road.

Life is funny like that some times.

Merry Christmas

May you all be blessed with the three “L”s of Christmas…

Life

Love

and Loot.

– from all of us, to all of you…

Enjoy!

Oh, the THINKS you can think!

I have always been a dreamer, and when it came to Dr. Seuss, while part of me even now holds a special place for his final work “Oh, the places you’ll go!”, my all time favorite is “Oh, the THINKS you can think!” I suppose my imagination and all the thinks I can think is why I enjoy fantasy and science fiction so much, all of the magic and technology sets my brain sparking. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I were a touch older, just a decade or two, and have had to have lived without the things I have lived with. By today’s standards, even what I grew up with seems like the dark ages. Life without cell phones and the Internet probably seems unbelievable to people younger than me, as much as life without multiplexes and cable television would be strange to me. Every day, in every way, it is like we are living in the future.

I’ve seen laptop computers and palmtop computers, I’ve seen portable devices and ebook readers, but Amazon’s new Kindle, to me, is another one of those leaps, like I’m staring at something that has fallen out of a rip in the space time continuum. The future right now.

We have six five shelf bookcases in our house, and four smaller ones. By width of the shelves we probably have one hundred feet of books, but likely more than that as some of those shelves are two paperbacks deep and double stacked, books laying across the top where we could find room to jam them in. Working in computers, I’m not really surprised to know that all of those could be digitized and stored on a thumb drive, but somehow the idea that all of those books could be purchased, stored and read wirelessly on a device the size of one of those books just makes my head momentarily spin.

I’m sure people will say that nothing will replace the feel, the smell, the experience of books, and to a degree I agree. I’ve got two shelves of children’s books for the children, nieces and nephews that I don’t yet have. I don’t think an electronic device can replace the book you share with a child, at least until they come up with the Kindle 2 with two color screens to better emulate an open book. But outside of that, I think of carrying books with me on the bus as I travel to work, or back to my days of lugging heavy texts around the high school halls and across the college campus and I know that an electronic book from the future would have been a welcome replacement for the weight and the hassle.

Of course, no advancement of technology can come without its own share of pitfalls. The voracity with which my wife and I devour books these days, we’d be bankrupt in no time thanks to the ease at which we could purchase books. Owning such a thing would definitely be a test of will. I suppose we’d be okay as long as we retain the option to not store credit card information on the account. One click purchasing is an innovation I think we’d all be better off not having.

That said… I still want one.

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Have you ever felt the stars align?

I was checking my email on Tuesday while I was working and I got what at first glance I thought was spam email. It was Ticketmaster telling me about some concerts in my area that I might be interested in. At least, that’s what it looked like. I ignored it and did some other things, but about an hour later I was staring at it again.

It wasn’t spam. It was an invitation to get some complimentary concert tickets. Velvet Revolver with Alice In Chains and Sparta on October 3rd at the HiFi Buys Amphitheater. I suppose the reality is that the concert was not selling as well as they wanted, and rather than play to empty seats, they were giving away tickets. I “bought” 4.

Nobody went with the wife and I. It was too short notice and everyone had plans or something. Except one guy, but he had a bad day at work and decided not to go out. No loss though, they were free tickets, if no one went it didn’t matter.

We got to the show and it was worse than I thought. Ticket sales had been so bad that at the door they were allowing people with lawn seats to upgrade to reserved seats for no charge. The lawn was closed. Even with the free ticket offer they’d spammed out (likely to everyone who had purchased tickets to a “rock” show in the past 30, 60 or 90 days … I went to Def Leppard) they hadn’t given away enough tickets to fill the seats. The ones we got online were pretty good. Section 203, row QQ on the inside aisle.

We sat down and listened to Sparta. They did what a good opening act should do. They played, they played well, and even got me wanting to go find their CD and give it a listen.

When Sparta left the stage, we went back out to the Zune booth… oh wait, I left that out. On the way in, we got raffle tickets. After the first band, the Zune booth was having a drawing. We won a 30GB Zune. Been playing with it this morning, its pretty sweet.

Alice In Chains took to the stage next… I saw AIC for the first time back in 1991 when they opened for Van Halen on the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour. I’ve been a fan since Facelift. When Layne Staley died, I figured the band was done. Well, they aren’t done. With new lead vocalist William DuVall, the band is tight. There were times during the night that I could swear the man had to be lip syncing. It was eerie, but also fantastic. They played through all the hits and fan favorites. I look forward to hearing more from Alice In Chains.

After another break, Velvet Revolver took the stage. I’m not a huge fan of VR, in fact the only song I really know is Fall to Pieces. Scott Weiland has decided, apparently, that he is a Mick Jagger impersonator, and his voice just doesn’t sound like it used to. Stone Temple Pilots was a great band that I loved. With VR, at least live, Scott sounds like he’s on helium or been kicked in the nuts, about an octave above what would sound good. They played a few songs I didn’t know and really at that point it wasn’t likely that their performance was going to surpass the previous band, it was a weeknight, and I hate traffic. We left.

All in all, a free concert, a free 30GB Zune… a good night.

The Intelligence has returned to base!

The thunder of shotguns, the gentle rumble of sticky bombs, the whine of the chain gun.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Team Fortress is back.

I’ve made mention before that I played the original Quakeworld Team Fortress for a number of years. I participated in leagues, belonged to a clan, and loved nearly every minute of it. Team Fortress Classic, which was released for Half-Life was… lets just say it was a disappointment and leave it at that. I found EverQuest and spent the next 8 years immersed in MMOs.

I tried TFC again not too long ago, okay it was nearly three years ago, and I just couldn’t get in to it. The game just didn’t play right.

Last week, Team Fortress 2, built on top of Half-Life 2, was released, and the magic has returned. Its like the old days again. I’m not the best player in the world, but I hold my own and I’m good at teamwork, so I can have fun even when we are losing. I usually come in around the middle of the pack as far as kills/points go. Of course, the return to glory is also a return to the age old frustrations: when the flag leaves the flag room, chase it. Most servers are set to run games to 3 points, so letting the flag go just is never a good thing unless you are letting it go to assist bringing in our own 3rd point.

But, the fact that I care enough to be annoyed by it means the game has done it right. Its awesome, and I’ll be hanging around a while. If you care, keep an eye out, I play as ProbablyNot.