Sunday, July 12, 2015

Grief-enabled gaming

I was going to title this twat-enabled gaming, but that seemed like the wrong thing to put in the title.

In my past games with @princessofworld@banky, @AndrewDPickard, and others we always played games that while competitive never really put one player out of the rest of the game. Battlestar Galactica comes to mind, as does Dune and a few others. One can lose the game and still feel it was a good time. I have yet to lose BSG or Dune and feel left out of the action.

However, there are those games that commit the ultimate player sin - wasting someone's time. The mechanics of these games enable that sin. Putting someone in a glass house and forcing them to watch the game play is sadistic.

I've played five bouts of the 4X game Eclipse. This last game I played, I made a tactical mistake on turn two and had my next door player crush my homeworld on turn three. I was assured by the rest of the table that I wasn't out of it, so I continued. I waited and tried to take back my homeworld on a subsequent turn. This caused the neighbor to crush me again with what I considered an ostentatious over-kill. I am not proud of myself, but I was more than a bit upset about him re-routing the weakest player on the board. Hash and loud words were exchanged.

I sat there fuming and doing essentially nothing for the next few hours. When the opponent finally started scorching my remaining worlds, I packed up and left, in a huff. There was another four of nine turns left in the game. The game enabled the asshole in me.

I'm not mad at my opponent for taking advantage of a weaker neighbor and my play mistakes. What I am still upset about is that I was left crippled without a chance to play. This is a dick move. A better player would have finished me off quickly. If it were me, I would have explained to my opponent what mistake I capitalized on that allowed me to so quickly take his position. There's no sense in letting someone hang around who can't affect the outcome.

Another instance was one of my last rounds with SmashUp. SmashUp has a lot of mess-with-your opponent mojo going for it. In general it's a pretty fun little game, but there is a faction whose power is basically to make everyone else at the table not play. On top of that they can give out negative victory points thereby making everyone else's game harder. This can be done while they themselves don't have to make winning moves. This entirely neuters the point of playing. Myself and other players sat for three or four turns not playing. I'm not sure what schedules other people have, but as a 40-something with a family, I can not play games in a much more productive manner at home.

Then there's the Lannister faction from Game of Thrones. I'm about ready to give my copy away due to the fact that I've played them all five times I've played the game and they wind up being crippled by turn three or four. Again, playing a weaker starting position isn't the worst thing, but this game's mechanics encourage glass-housing.

Games that enable this type of behavior even unintentionally are broken. I'm sure my Eclipse opponent is a decent enough fellow, but this type of game-enabled griefing left a bad taste in my mouth. I doubt I'll be invited back to play this game again and that's probably for the best. I'm going to give GoT one more try as not-Lannister to see how it goes.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A tale of two corporations

For those of you not following the SCOTUS, the high court handed down a decision today that was met with great cheering by some and dreadful concern by others. From my perspective, it allows a specific type of company held by religious adherents to inflict their particular religious beliefs upon their employees.

Hobby Lobby can now deny birth control to their female employees due to their owners *belief* that birth control pill, IUDs, and hormone injections are abortifacients. This belief is held in opposition to what biology tells us about how the female body works. This targets only one group of employees - women. There is nothing the owners of the company withhold from their male employees.

Let's contrast this to where I work.

As best I can tell, my workplace is a privately held corporation owned by conservative Jews. The owners will cater kosher meals for lunch meetings off of an approved vendor list. However, they don't mandate that all the employees observe kosher or sabbath rules on site(I can bring my ham sandwich to work on Saturday). This company will even expense lunches out for employees at non-kosher restaurants - shrimp pizza for our team today!

So the question becomes, which employer is really more pious? Is it the one that inflicts their particular view of scripture on a set of employees, or is it the one that having had a history of persecution sets standards for themselves, but doesn't insist that the rest of the workers obey them as well?

Apparently Hobby Lobby was all too willing to let their and their employee's money grow with the suppliers of birth control.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Running scared

This is the tale of my first official half marathon race. The story is in this Garmin Connect link, but it's formatting is wretched.

This is the tale of two races; the first nine miles and the next four. The race started and I was fine pacing at 9-ish or so, but I did notice the road was a bit uneven. "No matter" I thought, as long as my pace an heart rate were good I'd be fine.

About mile six or seven I noticed my left knee was starting to hurt but I thought I'd just adjust my technique and it would be fine. It wasn't. Mile ten was that start of the hurt. It felt like someone was driving a ten-penny nail under my kneecap every time I tried to go at more than a walk. There is not rhythm you can sustain like that. 

The next miles were me talking myself up and gutting it out, but it was starting to wear on me and sometime in mile twelve I seriously wondered if I was going to finish. I was hurt and upset. I'd never had knee problems before. These last three miles were walk/shuffle run/walk/repeat. 

I came down the final hill(downhill was the worst) and as I made the final turn I was starting to get scared that my family would see me seriously injured just as I came in. My mind was focused on keeping a jog and not making any mis-step that would hurt my knee further. 

I finished and I just couldn't speak. I was proud I'd finished but I was as scared as I'd ever been in a run. I just sat down and gathered myself because I think I would have sobbed had I continued to stand. 

I gathered my medal and thought that this was the first time I was proud to get a participant medal. I wore it all the way out of the race area because I knew how much pain went into getting it around my neck. 

I'm not going to run for a week. I'm going to relax, surf, and find a new gym. Next week I'll consider running again. I'm going to do another half-marathon because I know I can run it at a 9:00 pace if the knees hold together.

Monday, January 27, 2014

In which I circle back to the beginning

I've finally gotten off of my lazy butt and registered this domain at our original name -  You're welcome.  I'm glad all of my readers could wait eleven years for this to happen again.  Who knows, it might lead to more regular posts.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Mr. Life-changer.

I started writing this blog deep in the winter of 2003.  I was self-hosting and basically taking this up as a geek project.  I also took it up to document the pregnancy and birth of my first child.  Janet documented that quite well(sorry only 2 of 3 pages got archived).

I was full of optimism at the future of my parenting.  I still am, but I've got a better idea of who this child is.  Here he is on his first day home:
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You may notice some developmental changes in this picture.  Yes, that's the same onesie he wore home.

He's ten.  He's the same age as our car and he's the reason we bought a house.  I'm alternatively amazingly proud of him and insanely hostile to him as well.  I love him more than he can fathom and I see so much of myself in him good and bad.

I think Matthew is an orchid child.  This is both blessing and curse.  If I were a more serious parent, I'd make sure to tend to the ground and keep it fertilized.  Unfortunately for him, I'm not much of a gardener. but he hasn't wilted yet.

I wish you a very happy birthday son.  You have changed my life in ways unexpected and awe-inspiring.  I love you and I always will

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Santa Monica: not always paradise

It's so weird. People keep checking with me to make sure we're okay after Friday's fire and shooting and then saying how 'sad' it all is.

It wasn't fucking sad! It was scary and tragic, and pissed me off!

Being told that my kids are in a school on lock down and I can't get them if I want is frightening and stressful. Not sad.

Having fire trucks and police blocking of the street two blocks away, therefore causing all sorts of unexpected traffic issues (and preventing me from getting to my kids' school) is obnoxious and scary, not sad.

Knowing that if I'd left the house 30 minutes sooner (or the shooter started 30 minutes later) my life and my family's lives could be drastically altered doesn't make me sad, it scares the shit out of me.

We're fine. The kids are fine (they had a boring afternoon, unlike me). I'm extremely grateful for how alive we all are. Just don't call it 'sad'.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Complex crystal

Today I took my mother to the Crystal Cathedral.  It is a most impressive space and building.  Even more impressive is the amount of money it took to get the whole thing going and running.  I don't have the heart to tell my mother that it will be a Catholic church now.

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Growing up my mother and I watched Dr. Schuller together.  He was odd then as a TV preacher who didn't preach hellfire & damnation.  He preached a message of positive determination.  He also preached perseverance - tough times don't last but tough people do!  Of all of the people of faith I admired, he seemed to be the best.

It was an odd thing to walk through this house of worship I saw on TV. I could remember how impressive it all looked.  I can also now see how the TV missed the actual grandeur of the space.  It's truly more impressive than it was on TV.

On the other hand, I couldn't help but notice how it was worn.  It's been thirty-three years since its completion and thirty-six since it started its TV career.
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The carpets have been walked, the seats have been sat, and the dust collected for many years.   It fades much like all of human creation.

My mother was thrilled to have seen it, and happy to have the grandkids in tow.  I was happy to have a hand in making her trip even more memorable.

I for one was impressed with the architecture, and yet unmoved by the pseudo-sanctity the emanated from this monument to an imaginary friend.

My children asked me what a priest is/does.  I told them that a priest is someone that speaks to imaginary friends.  I hope they remember this trip and that lesson in time.

The rest of the photos are here.

I advise anyone to see this amazing edifice to religion; make of it what you will.