Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twitter: the new way to people watch

The Internet has always had a strong social component, but the world has never felt more connected than it does now. For me, it all began with myspace (yes I am aware that social networking existed before then...I have used many of them.) I joined to find out what this "myspace thing" was that my friends kept raving about. I quickly discovered that not only could I keep in touch with friends, I could also find bands that I had never heard of to listen to. It was exciting. Sure, I couldn't load most of the myspace pages without waiting f.o.r.e.v.e.r, but when they finally loaded, it was game on.

After awhile I started to find more main stream bands on the site, and that was cool too. I could keep up on tours, listen to new tracks, and otherwise keep updated on band info. Comedians too. I knew when myspace had become uncool - it was after I had gone to a GNR concert and added Sebastian Bach as a friend. Shortly thereafter, a friend sent me a message that it was so cool that I'm friends with Sebastian Bach. It was in that moment that I knew myspace had gone too far.

Although I still have my myspace account, I rarely log into anymore. I moved on to Facebook. I liked Facebook so much more because it was more personal. You didn't have all these different people adding you as a friend so they could whore themselves to you. I got back in touch with a lot of old friends and schoolmates. It was great. But it was limited.

I had known about Twitter for awhile, but hadn't really paid much attention to it. That all changed when Facebook was blocked at work and I could no longer keep up with my friends updates, which had been the most addictive part of Facebook for me. What was I to do? Answer: use Twitter to update my Facebook status. This soon led to my friends joining Twitter too, and once again, it was game on.

I soon discovered that Twitter is a lot more than meets the eye. People don't just answer the "what are you doing now?" question that is posed; they share. They share information, news, and glimpses into the their psyche. And Twitter isn't just for the average joe...there are a lot of famous people who use Twitter. The first famous person I followed is Wil Wheaton. I wasn't really sure what to expect (until now I was not aware of his blog; I'm now an avid reader) but as I liked his work I decided to see what would transpire.

Now, I'm not the type that reads trash magazines, or finds it necessary to know every little thing about celebrities. If I like their work, I follow it (i.e. watch the movies/tv shows, whatever.) The idea of being able to read a celebrity's personal thoughts online seemed almost like reading one of those trash magazines. It took all of 5 mins of reading through tweets to cure me of that line of thinking! It struck me that although these people are celebrities, and to whom I would make an absolute ass of myself if I ever met, they're people too. (Yeah, that seems a bit obvious I know.) They, despite the fame, are just like the rest of us. That of course does not mean that they should be expected to respond to every tweet as if you're their best friend. But I digress...

I've built up a nice little group to follow, and am greatly enjoying it. As I read through the tweets today I came to realize why I am enjoying it so much: it's people watching. And I love people watching. You can be yourself, you can lie, you can promote, you can help... you can do whatever you want on Twitter. No matter what you do though, it reveals little things about you. And the way other people react to you reveals little things about them. It's completely fascinating.

And completely addictive.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


*overly dramatized sigh* I thought I had left this sort of thing behind when I abandoned Myspace, but here I am, tagged once again. (Thank you, Mrs. Bai.)

So....the rules are: link to the person who tagged you, write down your six happy things, write down the rules too, tag six other people and let them know they’re tagged, and let the person who tagged you know your entry is posted. Rebel that I am, I'm not going to tag others, but I will write six happy things. Prepare yourself! (I donno, sounded good.)

In no particular order:

Happy thing 1.

Watching planes fly. Especially if they fly really really fast.

Happy thing 2.

Watching really fast cars. (No, not Nascar. I'm talking Bugatti Veyron.)

Happy thing 3.

Reading a fantastically good book.

Happy thing 4.

Sleeping in and finishing that dream.

Happy thing 5.

Playing with cats.

Happy thing 6.

Watching a show/movie that I've really been looking forward to seeing.

To Boldly Go

I'm following Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and Brent Spiner on Twitter. Although I associate all of them with their other projects, together they have sent me on a Trekkie trip down memory lane.

I was first introduced to the world of Star Trek when I was 5 yrs old. (It may have been earlier than that, but I have no recollection of it.) Sundays were the one day of the week that I got to spend time with my dad - and that time was spent watching TOS and Dr Who. TOS of course was well before my time, but my dad had grown up with it and was a big fan, so he enjoyed watching the episodes, and I just enjoyed the time with him. I suspect I drove him a little crazy with questions about this world of science fiction that I was being introduced to.

I don't remember exactly when my dad and I started watching TNG. It may have been in 1987, but again, I have no recollection of it. Star Trek just became part of my life. It was fascinating to me, and inspiring. I wanted nothing more than to go out and explore the stars. Unlike most Trekkies, my favorite TNG character was actually Wesley Crusher. Even as a kid I understood the difficulties with the character, and why it was not a popular one (my dad always had a few choice words when Wesley was in an episode,) but for me Wesley was proof that kids could be in space. I wanted to be brilliant like him, and skip the whole growing up thing and just head straight into space. Obviously the whims and fantasies of a child. It didn't hurt that Wil Wheaton is just damn good looking too ;)

I remember how thrilled I was when Voyager and DS9 came out. By then I was a larger Star Trek fan than my dad, and followed the shows much more religiously. (Side note: my dad finally found a character he despised more than Wesley Crusher: Kathryn Janeway.) I find the divergence in fan opinion regarding Voyager and DS9 to be very interesting. Most who liked Voyager hated DS9, and vice versa. I liked both. However, TNG reigned supreme in my world of Star Trek.

I had a few Trek figurines and other objects you would expect a Trekkie to have, but my siblings teased me mercilessly about my Star Trek affinity, so I would avoid visible representations of my Trekkie nature. It didn't, however, stop me from stockpiling some really awesome posters, one of which I still have up in my room.

When Voyager and DS9 came to an end and I heard about Enterprise, I was thrilled. I cleared my schedule specifically so I could watch the premiere - only to be pissed about the theme music! This isn't the classic Trek theme! (Side note: over time I became used to the theme, and was pissed all over again when they shortened it.) I liked the show well enough to keep watching it, but I was a little dubious. Season 2 was the start of something great. Enterprise was brilliant, and fast becoming my favorite Trek series.

You can imagine my fury when the show was canceled.

I knew, after watching the last episode of Enterprise, that the Star Trek franchise was done. Sure there would still be conventions, books, and maybe even some more movies, but without the TV shows I couldn't see it having the power and effect on the masses that it once had. It was a sad, sad day for me.

On a happier note, I finally made it to Vegas and the Star Trek Experience, before it shut down. It was a big moment for me...not just because the Star Trek Experience was Trekkie heaven, but also because after years of publicly denying and hiding being a Trek fan, I was not afraid or ashamed of saying I LOVE STAR TREK!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Show me no mercy, Severine

I returned yesterday from an installation in Indiana. For the most part it was a snoozer, but it also tested me in ways I wasn't really expecting. It amazes me how little things can make a huge difference.

When I first started this job almost 4 years ago, my skills lay in troubleshooting PC problems and working with PC hardware. Networking was definitely a weak point. I have since learned enough networking to do my job, but I haven't really gotten beyond that. The only hurdles I ran into on this install were network related, and I'm proud that I was able to overcome them. The highlight was when I had to telnet into a Cisco router to dig out the info I needed to replace it with my Netgear router. I had never used telnet before, had only heard of it in passing. Shockingly, I got the info I needed and replaced the router without incident.

I am a very nervous driver. It took years before I was able to drive out of the state on I95, simply because there are *gasp* 3 lanes of traffic. Now, because of my job, I sometimes have to drive in 6, 7, even 8 lanes of traffic. Although I'm still not happy about it, I am able to make the drive. On this trip however, I not only had multiple lanes of traffic to deal with, I also had 3 snow storms to drive in! The fact that I was able to drive in and out of Chicago, and home, in the snow, without incident astonishes me. The fact that I was able to do that and actually walk after driving is proof to me that I am finally beginning to relax a bit. For me, that's a huge accomplishment.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's in a dream?

Let me start by saying that I have truly fucked up dreams on pretty much a daily basis. Call it an overactive imagination. The dream this morning though, caused me to question my sanity.

A little background...during the regular season, I spend my evenings watching my favorite TV shows. During the off season, I spend my evenings gaming. This being a quasi not really regular but not really off season, I've been doing both.

In the last 2 weeks I have played the following games:

Divine Divinity (RPG containing magic and inhuman enemies)
Heroes of Might and Magic (RPG containing magic and inhuman characters)
Crisis Core (RPG containing magic and mostly human characters)
Spellforce Universe (RPG containing, you'll never guess, magic and inhuman characters)
Wind Slayer (MMORPG beta that so far has consisted of running around whacking bugs with a stick)

My dream this morning was interrupted by my alarm clock going off, so I only remember bits and pieces of the dream. This is more or less what I remember:

First thing I remember is an in-game mini map showing the location of my party, the enemy, and my home town. My party was moving to the north, to fight the enemy. Suddenly, a large contingency of the enemy snuck through a hidden path to swarm my now undefended home town. The enemy, it should be noted, consisted of orcs, imps, wraiths, and dark magicians.

Seeing my home town in immediate danger, I did the only thing I could - teleported my party back to my home town. Upon returning to town, I find myself in a house with my family. (My real life family, and the dream was no longer in-game...think more like Harry Potter.) I explained about the urgency of defending the town from the oncoming invaders. We went outside to see to the defenses, and were suddenly in the 1970's.

"Are we in the 70's?" I asked my mom.

"Yes, it was a wonderful time," she said, dancing around in a field of flowers wearing stereotypical flower child attire.

"Well what the hell are we doing here?" I demanded.

"Gathering our defenses," she replied.

I didn't know what the fuck that meant. I turned and found myself staring at the dust cloud rising above the approaching enemy. We had returned to the present. I turned back to my mother, only to find that I was at the head of an extremely large army. I was a mage, and in my hand was a stick that I apparently use as a wand. My army consisted of other mages, ghosts, skeletons, and other figures that I couldn't quite identify. I knew that this is why we had gone to the 70's - to bring back this army.

I turned again to lead my army into battle. Large bubbles came careening into view (think Glinda in the Wizard of Oz.) Using my stick, I sent magic out to the nearest bubble, bursting it. We were suddenly covered in lizards, and although they didn't actually do anything, I knew they were evil and set about destroying them one by one with my magic stick. By the time I finished, the bulk of the enemy army was upon us, and I was busy directing my magic stick at various orcs and imps.

I was just about to be lunged upon by a dragon when my alarm went off, jerking me back to reality and out of the dream. As I lay there, trying to hold onto the last remnants of the dream, I fell asleep again, but dreamt of something else entirely.

Either I've been playing too many games lately and they are consuming even my sleeping brain, or I'm finally losing my grip on sanity.

A third option did occur to me as I drove to work: I have created the best RPG game ever.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Evolution of the geek

It started with an innocent question at work - who is the geekiest? It got me thinking about just how much the term geek has changed in recent years. According to Merriam-Webster, the word geek originated in 1914 and meant a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake. That definition reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a bat. The last word I would associate with that is geek.

In later years, the term geek came to mean a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked. I, like many others, experienced this personally growing up. Computers were still such a novelty that my interest in them didn't immediately brand me as a geek, however my interest in Star Trek and Star Wars did. By today's definition, that made me a scifi geek. In high school, it just meant that I was supposed to hang out with my own kind.

Thankfully, as computers became more mainstream, and with the birth of the internet, being a geek became less derogatory and more of a badge of honor. Today it has come to mean an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity. Geeks rule the world.

This leads me back to the question that started it all: who is the geekiest? I don't think there is a clear winner among my co-workers. We are all geeks, but in different ways. Andrew is a flying geek. Justin is a game geek. Dan is a computer geek. I am...well, that's sorta undefined. I am a scifi geek, that is certain. I am also a bit of a film/tv geek, a computer geek (I built my own gaming pc) and a bit of a gaming geek. Perhaps, despite all the breakdown, when it comes down to it, I'm just a geek.

Are you?

The original death by foofoo

To blog or not to blog, that is the question of the 21st century. I have attempted on several occasions in the past to blog, but found myself posting insipid drivel that even I didn't want to read. As I have gotten older however, I find myself being more introspective, and found a desire to write that I haven't had since I was 12. My fantasy stories are blossoming as a result of the creative juices flowing, but I find I want to write more than that. So, I will blog. I can't promise it will be anything more than the insipid drivel I used to write, or even mildly entertaining. It will be what it will be.

In the spirit of blogging, here is my first ever posted blog, an excerpt from an email to my dad:

Death by foofoo

Ponder this - They say spiders are more afraid of you than you are of them. I say that's bullshit. If that was true, then explain to me this - why is it every time I see a spider some distance from me still, it will disappear before I can kill it (though the attempt is made,) only to reappear just centimeters from being on me? If I'm such a big thing to be feared, why get so close? I think spiders are like cats - they do it just to laugh at my reaction. You know the one - running off into the next room screeching and doing the "get it off me" dance. Well the jokes on them....dead bastards.

Editors note: Yes spiders were harmed in the making of this story. That's what they get for dropping down in front of my face while I'm trying to watch TV. They're just lucky Cleo didn't get to them first - she likes to toy with her prey until they're so worn out they just give up. Then she chews em up and spits em out.

On a side note - those wolf spiders are nasty! They have this move where they flip themselves over onto their back - not sure if it's to play dead or to bite the attacker. Either way it doesn't stop death by foofoo.

And shit.