Personality Profile

Lots of interesting talks lately with the other half.  A particular comment that struck was that there are a lot of people considering taking large steps in their life but not actually taking them.  Makes sense, mid-life crises are built around finally having the time to be introspective.  Likely have a career, kids are not requiring 24/7, most finance/health items are under control.  All of a sudden you have time to think.

Yet, while people are often stuck in the rut of complaining about something rather than taking action.  They are paralyzed in the “what if” scenario.  That, perhaps, with motivation the external factors will change into a positive one.  That the next roll of the dice, or lottery ticket won’t be a bad one and they will strike it rich.  Rather than simply picking up and stop playing the game entirely.

Don’t get me wrong, no one can succeed in life alone.  I am far removed from being hard-ass to the point where other people around me have to follow my way or get out of my way.  I truly believe that everyone is good at something.  It’s just that often people are not doing the thing they are good at.  And people will not simply take an external voice and agree to change – that has to be driven internally.

I used to see this particular psychologist and she articulated the mindset with a single question.  “What’s likely to happen, and can you live with it?”  The person that’s 300lbs and is wondering what to do.. well, they either going to be healthier and live longer, or they are just going to stay obese.  Is it harder to eat better and take a walk, or struggle to get out of bed and use the washroom?  The person in an unhappy relationship, counselling either improves communication and the other party wants to succeed, or it solidifies the fact that there’s no salvage to be had.  Either way, it’s better than waking up to someone you don’t get along with.

The older I get, the more I realize how I fit into the spectrum of “let it be” and “let’s do something”.  In the wide majority of situations, I want to do something, and I want to do it with other people.  If those other people don’t want to, I won’t go around convincing them… I’ll either do it myself, or find other people to do it with.  I feel much better looking in the mirror and saying that I at least tried to make a positive change, compared to just complaining.

Not to say that people aren’t allowed to blow off some steam.  There are times when things get just right under the skin for a short period and you just have to deal with it. But we all know plenty of folks who have been singing the same tune for months/years and nothing to show for it.  If they are stuck in talking about all the things wrong and never thinking about what control they have over improving things…I’m finding that my relationships with those people are getting frayed.

Introspective post that’s a mix of all over the place.  That’s the reason this blog exists, letting me put some structure to the thoughts.  Hopefully it has a similar impact on readers.

tldr; don’t complain or ignore, do something for positive change

Gaming Accessibility

Hockey is expensive.  How’s that for a byline?

No, seriously.  I put both my kids in last week, and that’s $800 a head.  Then there’s the actual equipment which for little squirts is about $200 each.  Then there’s the year’s additional team expenses (tourneys, activities, etc…) that runs close to $2000 each – every year.  All for a season that lasts from October until Feb.  I won’t get into how much it costs for me to play hockey (or the beer following).

The return is worth it.  Hockey is a team-based sport, and everyone needs to work together for success.  My eldest was quite shy prior to her lacing up.  That went out the door pretty quick in the rink.  But yeah, expensive.

Gaming is another expensive endeavor, but significantly less so today.

First, you need a piece of tech to play (phone, tablet, PC/laptop, console/tv).  Prices here have gone down over time.

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Console prices are relatively stable.

I can buy a large flat screen TV for $100 today.  That sure as hell wasn’t an option when I was a kid.  And nearly everyone over 16 has a cell phone that can double as a gaming appliance.  Even PC prices today are rock-bottom compared to the 80s/90s.

Game prices themselves are crazy cheap.  The $60 price point is still the most common one… and one that’s been around for nearly 30 years.  That’s around $190 today.  And that’s for games with actual upfront fees and no Steam Summer Sales.  The F2P genre has made gaming even more accessible, since you can get ~75% of a game for $0.  Some are so generous with their models (Warframe, Path of Exile) that they float almost entirely on good will.

Connectivity to other people is built-in for a large swath of the population too.  Internet access is still growing – in Canada it’s 92% of the population that has access.  Cell reception is increasing (I could talk about 5G for a week), meaning people are gaming on the go with other people.  Cripes… I still remember LAN parties and paying for dial-up.

Now, this isn’t without some risk.  Gaming addiction is a real thing, and there’s always a risk of everyone becoming like those in Wall-E.  But as more people game, you get more types of people.  The ol’ neckbeard stereotype for gaming is becoming the exception.

And that’s not even taking into account the ability to watch people game, rather than game yourself, which has a near $0 cost itself.  I could watch amateur hockey for free, but I’d need to go to the rink to do it.

When the gateway has been smoothed out, it’s easy to see why gaming is so prolific. Curious to see where this path leads.

Accepting Change

A long time ago I realized I was an agent of change.  In nearly everything I do, there has to be some form of change – and the status quo gets under my skin.

School was where it started to click.  I was able to get to the right answers, but my methods were quite a bit different than those taught.  I recall one math teacher who was sure I was cheating.  One of my programming teachers couldn’t figure out how the code was able to run, since it was nearly 30% shorter than the approved solution.  It’s kept through my career, where I seem to be drawn to complicated projects that focus on both tech and culture transformation.

Not to say I don’t like stability.  My daytime meals are really quite boring in that regard.  Simple, healthy, and all the macros I need.  Let’s me focus on things I find more important.  Like as if I’ve made the necessary changes and can move on.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that a few people in my social circle are going through what appears to be mid-life crises.  From my perspective (and lacking all the necessary context) it would appear that they just didn’t adapt to change over time, simply accepted that things were ok – up until the point they were not.  I mean, I get it.  Change is exhausting, and it never seems to end.  Figuring out what you can handle and what you can’t, that takes a lot of time.  But they do say that time waits for no person…

At a larger scale, I find it fascinating to see people’s resistance to change.  Like there are things that simply are not going to pass if we close our eyes enough.  Some quick thoughts.

  • Climate Change.  Ignore it if you want to, but it’s pretty damn clear that we have a problem.  Doing nothing is not an acceptable course of action.
  • Automation.  Who would say no to a machine that can work 10x as hard and never take a break?  Basic robots are here and going to stay.  We’re at the cusp of AI taking over more complicated analysis jobs.  Hell… day trading is almost entirely driven through algorithms.
  • GMOs.  We, as a planet, consume more than nature can provide on its own.  We hit the annual value last week.  GMOs provide higher yields, better nutrition, and require less chemicals.  This doesn’t negate the risk of single strains – see the Banana crisis for more.
  • Immigration.  This is a math exercise.  To keep an even amount of people in a country, you need to have just about 2.1 kids.  Right now, we’re about 1.7 in North America.  That gap has to be filled by immigration.  And that’s not even talking about the MASS of baby boomers who are retiring and turning into a net weight against social services (they pay into it less than they take out), meaning more people are needed to fill in the tax-paying ranks.
  • Vaccines.  Oy.  This isn’t hard.  There’s a reason people don’t have polio today.  Frankly, we’re a generation away from genetic modifications that can address birth defects.  The ethics of this… that’s a separate topic.

Each of these has an impact on people.  Some more than others.  Some appear simple, but are in reality quite complicated.  It’s natural for people to look for correlation in causation.  ex: Ms. McCarthy’s crusade against vaccines has led to more child deaths than should be reasonable.  We all but eliminated measles in North America up until a few years ago.

Adapting to change is hard.  If folks don’t understand their current value, it’s near sure they won’t understand their value after a change.  Natural reaction is to resist the change.  Ignoring that the change has these impacts makes for disenfranchised people, and can build a massive wave that seems to come from nowhere.  And when people are filled with this anger, they stop seeing clearly.  They stop wanting to talk about it, to perhaps tweak their ideas, to not see other people as enemies.  It’s a slippery slope.

And people who are in positions of power think they are in leadership positions.  They’ll stoke the emotional flames to stay in power or to try an attain more.  Why?  Because it’s the easiest thing to do.  And who doesn’t like easy?

There’s an old saying that goes:  If you meet an asshole during the day, you’re having a bad day.  If you meet nothing but assholes… you’re the asshole.

At the end of the day, we’re all in this together.  Change will never stop, no matter how much we wish it would.  And it’s certainly better to go through change with people than against them.  We’d all be better off trying to have some empathy for those undergoing change.  Can’t really succeed if we leave people behind.

Let’s Go Meta

I remember reading The Forever War a while back, and the main point I took from that story is a person’s ability to adapt to a changing society.  It’s a sci-fi story where a soldier is under the effects of time dilation (e.g. he gets 1 week, earth gets 10 years) and when he comes back for shore leave, he barely recognizes the place.

Today’s pace of societal change is just absurd.  Go ahead and watch the Hangover (2009).  There are bunch of jokes in that movie that simply could not make it to the screen today.  Actions from 20 years ago are brought up and judged against today’s standards.  Those are pure time capsules, and to try and shoehorn today’s values on that time piece makes no sense.  As I’m sure in 50 years that society will look back on what we do today and think Holy Shit.

But that’s not to say that people are not trying to catch the wave of change, trying to make a buck.  There’s a reason they call it a wave, because if you’re not at the crest, then you’re done.  And it’s damn hard to stay at the crest, especially when that crest changes every other week.  The shock-jock stuff from the Logans seemed a somewhat natural evolution from the Jackass culture.  But as time has moved forward, it’s become less and less accepted, regardless of how much energy they put into it.  They need to change.

Then there’s the people who fight tooth and nail against the wave.  There are a million reasons why.  We all have relatives who seem like they live 50 years in the past and have no inclination to move forward.  Some for interesting reasons, others simply due to exhaustion of seeing all the non-stop change.

I remember being a kid in school.  There was a bunch of stuff I liked that my parents just didn’t understand.  At least is was physical (POG?) and tangible.  And the rate of change was moderate enough since it typically cost money to participate in a trend.  Kids today?  Trends are set on a daily basis, and almost entirely free to participate.  There were no ice bucket challenges when I was a kid, it simply wasn’t possible to have something that viral exist.  If I was to look at the top 15 Twitch Streamers (subjective, fine) I only recognize 5 of them.  Dr Disrespect is one who technically should be in jail right now (at least, he would be if it was in Canada.)  And that 6 month old list is now out of date.

One of the old school memes (2012 is apparently old school) – Overly Attached Girlfriend (OAG) – recently announced that she’s leaving the scene.  Technically she hasn’t been active in 2 years, but wanted a farewell.  It’s a poignant video, primarily due to the openness of the mental health issues that being a content creator imposes.  99% of those issues are created due to the internet culture.  I can only imagine how that impacts others who feel obligated to create non-stop. They get so involved in the lifestyle that they have no backup plan – just stream/create until they can’t.

I’ve been blogging for over 15 years now.  In that time, I’ve found side projects that paid a decent amount of money, and there were points where I considered doing it full time.  The problem then (more-so now) was that full time was many more hours than I’d work in normally.  I made a choice then, as I do now, to only do what I want to do and do it within timeframes I’m comfortable with.  Giving me a million dollars and making me work 200 hours a week… I’m good, thanks.  As a teenager, I don’t think I would have had that same perspective.

What a long winded post to get the the point where I simply shake my head looking at how society self-reflects today.  Wild swings of popularity, and the anonymity of the masses.  There are no mirrors anymore, just cameras.  Exhausting.

 

Summatime!

Away for a while now, taking advantage of the cottage, the lake, and the beer.  I hope others are able to take time away from their number boxes too!

It was a needed break from work.  I’ve been running with a rather short fuse lately, and that’s not fun for anyone.  I had some stress when leaving a fairly large work package, but I ended up delegating it through 4 different teams.  When I came back, things were in a good place.  Oh, there’s always levels of the dumb, but it’s at acceptable levels.

What’s real nice about the cottage is that there’s no real technology.  I had my phone for news articles (avoiding social media) but the amazingly solid weather had me out of doors nearly all the time.  Didn’t answer any calls from work, just full decompress.

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Loon family & chick, with my youngest taking in the sights

I am quite fortunate to have both a cottage and one that’s about an hour’s drive from home.  The kids aren’t technology bound (‘cept perhaps a tad too much Netflix), and get to explore all parts of the outdoors.  Tangent time!

We had quite a few guests over the break, and a few of them are not the outdoors type.  It is really interesting to see how they (and their children) cope with the openness of the outdoors.  There are trees to climb, forts to build, rocks to throw, branches to burn, popsicles to eat, fish to catch, and importantly – bruises to acquire.  Compared to a more urban style, where you simply consume rather than create, it can give the appearance of boredom when in fact it’s a world of growth.  I’m quite glad that my kids get to experience both of those worlds, and have an appreciation for both.  I’m even more glad that other kids get to be exposed to it.

I will say that after 2 weeks of sun, boat & beer, playing hockey again the other night was a tad painful.  It is a worthwhile exchange, and shouldn’t take too long to get rid of the water weight.

Being away from tech for nearly a month means I have a bit of catch up to do.  A few bits on Steam to clear out.  Stranger Things 3 to get through.  Some books sitting needing some reading.  And some continued slowed breathing.

Stay zen folks.

Age is a Number

My eldest and I are a few days apart in birthdays.  I’m hitting a “milestone” year and I have to keep answering the same questions about feeling old.  Until you become legally eligible for something, there really isn’t a difference between the day before and the day after.

I’m in good shape and in great health.  I have the money to do what I want, though not always the time.  I’ve got a loving family.  Tons of stuff to be thankful for.  As an individual, the number doesn’t define me.  And really, it’s a time where you should have both time, money, and the wisdom to know what to do with both (in particular if you still have your health).

Yet, events do.

When my kids started school, I felt old.  When I started hiring students that were blank slates to my field ’cause the tech simply didn’t exist for them, I felt old.  When I realized there were more funerals than weddings, I felt old.  Seeing the kids ride bikes, learn to read, develop their own streams of thoughts… hell just grow a few inches…I felt old.  In the clearest of sense, age is relative.

I can relate to being not so much a kid, but living those same experiences when I was younger.  I did a lot of things, not always with permission but certainly with some guidance.  You learn from falling down and getting back up (or knowing when to stay down).

I am not suffering from some sort of existential crisis.  A wave of that has certainly hit the social circle… and in the wide majority it is with people who are still with the folks they were with at the end of their teens, and whose kids are now in the more self-sufficient block.  All of a sudden, they have much more time on their hands and they start looking around and wondering where the time went, looking at their biological clock.  More like regret than bitterness, but all are willing to take major steps for change to ensure primarily their happiness, and by proxy, others around them.  It takes a lot of courage to make big changes, and not expect some outside force to make you suddenly happy.  Not everyone is willing to make that change.

(I’m not immune to this phase.  The wife and I went through a hell of a rough patch a few years ago, but we put in a lot of effort at improving communication and I believe we’re better now than at any point prior.  Honest conversations open a lot of doors.  And once open, those doors open an entirely different world view.)

So as I edge all the closer to this magic number, I don’t think the date matters as much as my current state.  I would not have been able to get here earlier, and would not want to have waited longer.  I am happy, I am loved (with love in return), and I am content.  More than anything when I do celebrate the birthday, it’s about being thankful for what I have and being able to share with those I care about.  The larger step is taking that mindset an applying it outside of this single date, and trying to live it every day.  I’m not all the way there, but I’m trying.

This post certainly has a more philosophic vibe to it.  Feels good to write it out.  Hope you all find what makes you happy, and the right people to share it with.

Spring Energy

Where GoT didn’t ever have a winter that came, here in igloo-ville, winter came early and left late.  Spring is a solid 2 weeks late, and there are areas that are still experiencing record-breaking floods.  I am extremely sensitive to the weather, and my energy levels pretty much plummeted for a near month.  That has a a trickle down effect on nearly every aspect of my life… and my usual coping mechanisms aren’t sufficient.  And the cycle continues…

This past weekend was supposed to have a 90% chance of rain the entire time.  Took a chance, went to the cottage, and it turns out it was a nice time pretty much the whole weekend.  Whole bunch of various projects are lined up, and it was good to just be outside in shorts, with a pint in hand.  Had some friends over, indulged a tad too much, and felt a form of alive on the last day.

Was a good kick in the shins.  Time to get back on track.

Dauntless

The game launched on consoles and the Epic store yesterday.  The typical launch day woes apply, where servers are taking a beating (and have been for a couple weeks now).  There’s an account linking guide, which will provide cross play for everyone regardless of platform.  (The social/gaming interconnections here are a real contrast to MHW.)

I still think Dauntless is worth a shot.  There’s no need to pay a cent, everything is pretty much there for players.  If you want cosmetics, then you can use a Hunt Pass (as with all other monthly “get points to unlock” systems).  The system is structured on completing 4 weekly tasks, and most of them can be completed in 15 hunts.

The last big patch did a lot of good things to the game.  It will take a lot of hunts to get to the end of the game (shrowd/reza), and a near surreal amount of grinding specific subsets.  I will say that the grind truly forces the mindset that you need to prepare for an enemy rather than just zerg through it.

If there was a downside, it would be the maps where you perform the hunts.  They are just large arenas, with minimal interactions.  More often than not, you spend 2 minutes running around trying to find the target.  Meh.

With an investment of $0, there’s a WHOLE pile of fun to be had.

Misc Gaming

I am seeing a lot of posts about WoW classic.  It will be a meta experience for me.  I am very curious to see who sticks around in that space past a month.  I clearly remember Vanilla, I wrote a fair chunk of guides on it too. (How is that even still up?!)  I know what the investment requirements are, and even more so what the returns are.  Happy for those who enjoy that niche – but we all need to admit that it’s a niche.

Diablo 3 started season 17.  Weird theme, where you actively want to avoid sets.  Ever since 2.0 launched the game has been about sets.  And season 16 was the RRoG season – an even LARGER focus on sets.  I usually get some class to 70 and paragon 100 every other season.  Think I’ll give this a shot.

Path of Exile has a new expansion in about 2 weeks.  Good.  The last season (Synthesis) wasn’t any fun.  Betrayal was ok, and I really enjoyed Delve.  PoE is really different than D3, since you never really hit max level.  Well, I guess you can, but it would take something close to 200 hours.

Also, Lego Star Wars (1-6) has aged well.  Kids are enjoying it, and I’m still getting a kick of collecting bits.  Guess we never really grow up.