A Little Reality in a MMO Game

There was an interesting post I got this morning in regard to a piece I wrote for my Star Citizen character.

Quick background: the piece was a fictional account of a LA police officer who shot an unarmed Banu woman. The Banu are an alien race within Star Citizen. The family of the victim called it murder and the officer claimed it was self-defense.

So, the main critique of the person who posted stated I got a lot incorrect about the Banu, such as they don’t have a traditional family structure and they have short life spans. When I thought about it, I could have tried to fudge and defend the writing by saying the lifespan wasn’t really established and maybe a Banu at 40 years old might be old if their lifespan is 55 years old. What I realized was I wrote the article in January of this year and there, as they pointed out, an article detailing the Banu in March or April of this year. I should have checked and revised the article.

The second issue they had with the article I gently disagreed with. They wrote:

Another side side note… cops usually don’t have a gun out on you unless you are being openly hostile even when someone goes for a gun or weapon that is usually the time a cop will unholster theirs pushing a person back and stepping back to get their gun free in the same motion

This was my response to the second issue they had:

As far as the police procedure, I based this story on an actual incident where the police didn’t follow the correct procedure. That can be further documented by other incidents in the news where the correct procedure wasn’t followed. It could be possible that the officer hated, disliked, mistrusted or didn’t get the proper training in handling suspects under the influence or wasn’t trained in Banu traditions or culture. Even with the proper training, mistakes can happen. As I was interpreting this incident, the officer overreacted and, not to say she outright lied about the events, but she may have misinterpreted the events as they occurred. Remember, the Banu is dead and cannot give her side of the story and other officers on the scene would have been influenced by what Peyer said at the time.

One of the reasons why I went with the Law and Order style of writing for my approach was to inject some realism into this fictional roleplaying universe. People aren’t perfect and they don’t make the right decisions all the time. One of the backstories I have in the lore I’m creating is a small group called Earth First. They do not like aliens influencing the culture or Earth. Some are full on isolationists and want to drive all the aliens off the planet, but a majority of the Earth First people, and as a reminder the Earth First people are a small minority of the population at less than 105 having those views, but the Earth First people worry about the culture of aliens having a corrupting and accepting effect on society.

That’s kind of the broad perspective of where I was coming from. Take it out of the alien concept, c’mon, how many cops shootings have there been in the past few years? This was based on one real life incident, which the names and location changed to protect the innocent.

I’m glad this person responded to my post and I’m glad I didn’t just ignore them or send out a flame laced response. With a calm and laid out answer to them it is possible to educate and move forward.

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If This Sounds Like a Rant . . .

I think of myself as a person who can put up with a lot of drama. I don’t like drama other than fiction. I try to let it wash over me, try to walk a mile in another person’s shoes and will try everything under the sun to avoid confrontation.

I may be seething under the skin, but I will try, whenever possible, to try and avoid expressing frustration and anger. If you see me in an angry mood, the best thing to do is to say nothing. I will probably work it through, calm down and I will be back to my normal self in no time.

I’ve told this to many people, I’ve talked about my secluded moods and how I work through them. If you can understand that about me, we can go a long way in resolving any perceived conflicts or misunderstandings on my end.

Time and again, despite my warnings, there are friends that push the buttons over and over again. I tell them the story, hoping they get the message, but a few people still will test me. When I’ve hit my limit, when I’m tired of giving excuses and trying to justify the actions of those I feel that have wronged me, I just cut them off.

I’m done, it’s over, I’m out of there.

I have two examples of exercising this. A few days ago, I was having some real struggles at my job. It just seemed that the world took a big dump on me. At the end of the day, I took a few deep breaths, assessed why I was feeling and reacting the way I was, and went to work the next day determined to have a positive outlook on life. The reason I did this was because I realized, despite me being angry with some people, there were things I could have done to better prepare myself and because I was in a new environment, I was reacting to the unfamiliarity to the environment more than being upset with the situation or individuals.

I stayed positive, open and engaged and the day was better. In fact, by the end of the day, I was able to contribute and engaged with all of the information we got that day.

Then I got home!

Someone sent me a text message asking for money. There are people, and you know who you are, that I have given money to in the past. I can be generous but I’m not a bank. If I think you have a need, sure, I will help out. However, if you come to me with a “I’m starving and I need some money” when I see you smoking cigarettes, downing some Hennessy and you just ordered some Dr. Dre Beats from Amazon, I’m going to be slightly inclined to help out.

If this has happened a number of times, you’re gonna get Juiced. Remember the old song The Rain by Oran “Juice” Jones? You gonna be dismissed. You gonna be out, all packed up out on the streets. It’s my world, you just a squirrel trying to get a nut!

This person was on the fence as far as friendship’s go. I was slowly beginning to trust them again after the last encounter a while ago. I knew they were trouble, but I kept telling myself it was me misinterpreting, me jumping to conclusions. After that long and uplifting day yesterday and to be met with that tweet (you can’t call?) I was done.

I’m sure they will try to contact me more, maybe even saying it was a mistake to ask and profusely apologizing, but I’m done.

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Uncle Trump and the Boy Scouts

A week ago, the President gave what many commentators have called a very inappropriate speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree. Not only was the speech incredibly political, but the speech seemed, maybe inappropriate is too strong of a word but it seemed an odd tone when you realize the audience was made up of mostly 12- 18-year-old boys.

To me, it was a lot of locker room mentality in the speech.

One thing I need to clear up, which will not be seen on Fox News, is that contrary to what Trump said in his speech, Obama did send a pre-recorded message to the Boy Scout Jamboree in 2010. To be clear, he did not physically attend but he did have a pre-recorded speech at the event.

As a side note, this is the most infuriating thing about this President. He exaggerates to such an incredible degree that he misses the opportunity of less is more. If he didn’t mention former President Obama in his speech, or if he said President Obama never physically attended a jamboree, he would be on very soft but kind of OK grounds to say Obama didn’t attend a jamboree. No, he must say he never attended. Yet, there is proof he talked to the crowd.

The thing is that the Fox News crowd will never split the hairs, will not do the analysis and comparison. They will take the current officeholder at his word. Speaking of Fox News, I heard on the early morning radio broadcast that a host said why are people are concerned about the speech of the President? He said the Boy Scout organization should have known what they were getting into when they invited the President.

Excuse me?

They expected the President to be presidential. They expected the President to understand he was speaking not to voters but to the freaking Boy Scouts! This is not your drunk uncle giving a winded, bringing up family secrets Thanksgiving speech. This was not the time to be regular Trump; the guy who can’t let go of a grudge.

Trump is less like the President of the United States and more like John Candy from Uncle Buck.

The sad understanding coming from this is Trump, and I guess some at Fox News, find this normal and shame on the Boy Scouts for not understanding what the President is like. I guess from now on we cannot expect this President to rise above petty litigation of the previous election and focus on inspiring us and the youth of this country to become better than we are.

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My Fourth of July

For a lot of us, and I saying us in the minority POV, we can’t appreciate the Fourth of July. We’re supposed to be proud of country, feel honored to be living in “the greatest country in the world” and all that, but we don’t feel the sense of pride of country as we probably should. There are too many reminders about how imperfect this country is.

Whenever you start to bring up criticism about America, many of the gun-toting, freedom loving ‘mericans are willing to pounce on you, saying if you don’t love America then you can get out if the country.

So, if you criticize America, the answer to that is to leave? Where should someone who isn’t red, white and blue go?

You say, on the one hand, the whole reason the country is great because these shores accept all peoples from all countries to this land. Bring me your tired, your poor, those yearning to be free, all that stuff. Also, you have the freedom to speak out, the freedom to voice opposition, the freedom to speak about a true and diverse country.

If your answer is to challenge and oppose that freedom with others, to deny them the allow dissenting opinions, then what does America stand for?

Right now, the way I feel about America is that America is a dream unrealized. I don’t blindly shout USA for America. There are many things about America I dislike, but part of my birthright, since I was BORN in this country, is to criticize and point out those flaws I see with America without the fear of being ostracized, ridiculed or banished because of my speech.

There’s a lot to love about America but there is a lot to improve. I very thankful for being born here; I realize how lucky I am, but I also realize my freedom isn’t really free. There could be some, reading my words, that would insist I don’t love this country. Why, because I point out some rather obvious issues with America? Here’s the thing; those same people who claim to love this country blindly are the same people, just a few years ago, hated there was a black man as President.

Oh, why did you want to put race in this discussion?

Well, of you are bothered about me bringing race into this, in the words of Yoda, that is why you fail.

You want to take my country back and you want to make America great again. You say the slogans but you don’t understand the meaning of those words. When the old guy was in office, and I mean Reagan not the new person, he had the same slogan about bringing back the greatness of America. Back then, there were the same discussions about how in the world could people hate America and would not love to turn back time to a simpler time?

What is rarely taken into consideration how foreign and how discriminating those good old days actually were, from a certain point of view.

Back in the 50’s, the good old days, the color of your skin determined where you would live, what jobs you could have, in some cases, even where you would be buried. Of course, a few people “made it” and they were touted as examples of escaping the poverty and despair of their race to glow in the wonderment of the American dream. But very few were permitted that dream and still, if they got a little too comfortable in their skin, they would be strongly reminded of their place in society.

Yes, we have had strides, we have made progress. Yes, we had a black man as President of the United States, but look who we got in return. Yes, we had a black man as President, but black people can still be shot randomly by the police, by security guards, and in more cases than not, the perpetrator of the killing will get away with it.

You may want to couch the issue by saying the person caused their own death by doing “illegal” activities, but I don’t recall instances where the theft of cigarillos or selling loose cigarettes was punishable by death.

America is a country strong enough to withstand the criticism of a few voices who are pointing out issues and concerns that if addressed, can make this an even greater country.

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What would it take to convince people that Trump should not be the President?

My friend posted as interesting question a few hours ago:

Honest question. Donald Trump said “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters”. Looking at the FiveThirthEight analysis of polls, he actually enjoys an approval rating of around 40%. His supporters echo his claim that he has done more than any other president in his first days of office. They don’t care about collusion with Russia or his tweets or his conflicts of interest that violate the constitution. They don’t seem to care that he has alienated our allies or about any of the myriad actions that in a normal world would disqualify him from ANY government job. So my question is, what would it take to convince 40% of the population that this man should not be the president?

The cold simple fact is they will not be convinced.

The big problem is with Trump is the same problem with your garden variety common criminal, scoundrel or worthless baby daddy. As a person on the outside, you can try to convince how wrong Trump is, how detrimental Trump is, but if some have convinced themselves Trump is going good, you will not change their minds. The reasons for sticking with Trump could be because of a political agenda, maybe because they are profiting from Trump or it could be dumb luck that Trump has no impact on their family. As long as Trump isn’t seen as a threat in their eyes, and since they have invested so much in Trump, they will lie, deflect and ignore any thing that hurts that gravy train.

Have you seen Kellyanne Conway on interviews today? Have you seen Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator trying to defend Trump yesterday? If you saw that spectacle a week or so ago where Trump asked for and got almost every cabinet member in the room singing the praises of Trump, then I feel it’s unlikely many people in Middle America, who voted for Trump would change their minds. Conway, Lord and all those cabinet members are sticking with Trump and every day, in the case of Conway and Lord, they go to the American people, look them in the eye and lie us.

I heard this morning that just under 35% are in favor of Trump. Sure, you can say that 65% are against him, but since the Republicans are trying to get their piece of the pie they aren’t going to challenge Trump. With the Democrats, you literally need to have a “come to the deity of your choice moment” and unite against one candidate.

Here’s what I see at the moment; as much as there are reports about dissension in ranks, the Republicans cannot mount a coup for new leadership. They’re going to be stuck with Trump with no one to challenge him. As long as they, and Trump, have an Obama obsession they’re going to think about the short and not the long term. They’re hitched their wagon on hatred of Obama, it got them Trump, and most of the power players in the Republican party figure they can ride the wave for 4 to 8 tears and position themselves for life after Trump.

The other side of the coin is that Democrats want that savior to come in and unite the country. Unfortunately, they keep thinking old guard candidates right now. Do you see one candidate that has overwhelming support of the Democratic party that can challenge Trump? Four special elections and four losses. OK, so you might mention Elizabeth Warren or . . . that’s the problem. You can name Warren but I don’t see her doing any better against Trump. There is no one out there on the national stage challenging Trump.

As long as the critics of Trump are comedians and talk show hosts, he will continue to keep the support of the hardcore followers. Get some real, out of the box thinking politician, of which there are none at the moment, to really go for the heart of Trump. Otherwise, we will be stuck with Trump for longer than expected.

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It’s My Obsession

When I got home Wednesday around 8pm, I wanted to do a little project to change some wording on the organization (guild) in Star Citizen. A few words being changed turned into making a “few” other changes. It’s now Friday and I finally got a few hours of sleep. I spent most of the day and evening making those “few” changes, which went into a graphic overhaul of the page as well as creating a Facebook page for the site.

The frustration, OK sort of frustration, I get from getting so focused is I can get tunnel vision and I will plow through a project. Between 8pm Wednesday and 9pm last night I got 1 hour of sleep, and I know the reason I woke up was because I had turned off the AC and it was hella hot inside the room.

I did have a food break at 10am on Thursday, but every time I wanted to get something to eat I kept thinking I would finish one last little thing and I would take a break, and I find something else to focus on.

The thing I didn’t count on was Photoshop. In the past I’d used another graphics program but it got corrupted a month or two ago to the point where it wouldn’t recognize jpg files. I signed up for Photoshop but I hadn’t taken the time to do full navigation of the program. In the back of my head, I thought that I had to learn Photoshop and the best way to learn was by diving into something.

So, I stumbled through Photoshop while getting the graphics prepared, and the presentation for the site set up, then I got the idea to set up a Facebook page for the site. That’s when I realized, other than the hour of sleep, I have been glued to my computer the whole time. I missed a call from a friend, I missed visiting my bartender friend because I knew she would be working until 6pm and I was pretty sure I was going to be at a stopping point so I could stop by.

At 9pm I went to the grocery store to pick up stuff, specifically to make breakfast this morning because of yesterday.

It’s now 8:30am and after going to bed at 2am and waking up at 6am, I’m back at this blasted computer and I keep saying, just a few more minutes. Right now, the graphics changes I made yesterday aren’t displaying on the main game page. It is probably a glitch on the server site, since all the other graphic changes in game are working and I did find someone with the same issue. After taking an hour to reproduce, document and sent the information over to the Star Citizen site, I’m kicking myself why I just don’t start a new organization. It would be easy (I have all the files copied) and I don’t have other members I need to inform of the change. I just keep seeing that 200+ day counter on the board. I don’t want to start over again, but that might be the best and sanest option. I know doing an investigation as to why the issue is occurring is at the low end of task, especially since there is 1 other person who initially reported the issue.

I have to break away from the desk because I feel another narrow focus coming. Already I’m thinking about just starting over, but I also want to get a formal website up. It’s just weird that I spend my days off locked in a room staring at a computer screen.

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My Mini Vacation

For most of the day, I anticipated the trip with my usual calm demeanor. I was excited days earlier about the planning, making sure I had everything for the trip and preparing the cat for my few days away. By the time the actual day started, it was all set and there was nothing left but leaving work and getting to the airport.

My coworkers, on the other hand, were excited for me. Well, probably excited is too strong a word. They were happy, or relieved because I wouldn’t have me around for a few days, that I was going on this trip. I was asked if I was excited I was going. There were lots of well-wishers hoping for a safe trip. I think they were hoping I would sight see and have wonderful adventures. Really, all I was looking forward to was some rest away from all the distractions and responsibilities of home and work.

I kind of didn’t want this vacation. I would have easily have worked, or I could have stayed at home on my time off vegging in front of the TV watching the usual crop of daytime TV. I needed some time away, because after the dealings with my parents on their current health crisis and the awful and sorrowful incident at my friend’s wedding, I needed to get right with myself, as the saying goes. I assessed myself and the path I was heading on, especially after the wedding, was going to end up in a world of hurt for myself and possibly others.

So I started to take steps to turn things around. Not having alcohol was an easier step than I thought. I was always more of a social drinker rather than an addictive one. For addictions, I have comics and Star Wars collectables. Drinking was never something I needed or craved. What I desperate needed to have, especially when people talk about drinking, was to constantly be reminded that I am a problem drinker, that it is a struggle for the rest of my life and at any time I can fall off the wagon and I need to be vigilant at all times.

I’m sorry but I’m a rare exception to that rule. All that means is that an addiction approach is the wrong approach because it was never about addiction; it was about acceptance, it was about fitting in. There isn’t a craving for alcohol, a desire for alcohol nor a need for alcohol. I’m sure if I drink I could go into the same tailspin as before, but I don’t feel the need or the craving to have a drink to fit in. As long as I can be my weird, semi socially awkward self, I’m good. As long as I can feel good as who I am without the need to be someone else who is counter to who I am, I’m OK.

So far, it’s been two months since I’ve had a drink. I’m not craving for a drink. I don’t longingly look down the liquor aisle wanting one last drink. My bartender friend can honestly say I have been to her bar on a few occasions, have ordered a beer and water, and at the end of the day I have left without the beer being touched.

I needed this trip to reconnect with my awkward, slightly insecure, geek self. I’ve been not me for so long I’m not sure I know what it is to be me. Do I have a new definition for me? Am I becoming a different me? Is this an existential exercise which will determine what I’m changing can never change, did I make the change a long time ago, or is this a dream of what I want to become and the reality is I already, or never did, change?

Does this all mean I seriously need a vacation? That I need to let loose and have fun?

 

THE TRAVEL

Up to boarding the plane, the vacation started like most of my vacations. I planned a lot, causing a lot of added stress on myself because by now I know my routine. I had the usual minor annoyances of my fellow travelers complaining about things you can’t change or with a little bit of forethought you could have avoided.

There were a couple of college students who were talking constantly in the TSA line who definitely had traveled before but had no clue about preparation. While they jabbered with complaints about why they had to take their shoes off AGAIN and trying to figure out what was and was not allowed, I was all prepped and ready to have stuff separated and out well before I got to the grey trays. By the time I walked through the metal detector, two of the five students, who had already gone through, were waiting because their bags had to be checked. Why? They had saved large bottles of sand from the trip and, well, when you scan a bottle of sand through an X-Ray machine what does resemble? If you say explosive, give yourself a star! So, if you’re three other friends, who have not yet had bags go through the x-ray machine, see you and hear your ordeal, would you think at some point they might separate the memento of sand from their packs? Would you might think, upon the TSA repeating that materials need to be separate, might want to think about separating the material? Nope, these fine examples of higher learning asked the TSA about if gum was a food (?) rather than asking about the sand that was in their bags that their friends also had and were in the hand screening line.

So, after than bit of drama, I had 30 minutes left before my flight. Once I boarded the plane, and felt real lucky because I had one other passenger in my row which meant no crowded seat (got to look for the little miracles) that’s when the tide changed. Ten minutes before takeoff we were told there would be a delay. There was an issue with the backup AC and there were two passengers who had a connecting flight delay and we would be working on both issues for about 10 minutes. We were scheduled to leave at 8:20 and I knew the delay would have a cascade effect with meeting buses and the trolley for the trip to the border.

There was no need to overly upset about it. I had to just ride the wave and deal with the delays. As it turned out, I was late but right on time. Yes, we came into San Diego almost an hour late. By the time we de-boarded the plane, I had three minutes to get the next bus and it was a 10 minute walk. There was no way I could make it and I didn’t rush through the airport. When I got to the bus area, there was massive traffic and miraculously I saw the bus about two minutes away! When I got to the trolley station it was three minutes before they departed.

The travel deities smiled on me for whatever reason!

While slightly late, I got checked into the hotel at 11:40pm.

 

VERY LOST AMERICANS

I woke up this morning and went straight to the computer. I was up at 6am but since I’m normally awake at 3am to get to work, I really felt like I overslept. By the time it hit 7:30, I wanted to take a look around and see a few things. I could stay locked up in my room all day, and I didn’t want to do that.

There has been a lot of construction since the last time I was here. I thought they had moved the border crossing. It turned out there is a new location which most people flock to but the branch I go to seems to be active. I will have to be sure on Friday when I leave. I’d rather spend a half hour tops including a walk from the hotel rather than take a taxi, then endure foot traffic that can take anywhere from an hour to three hours.

While exploring the new border crossing, I saw this lost couple of Americans. They had the look of being lost, because they were desperately trying to seem like they knew the lay of the land and were really bad at it. The picture of the two were so typical. She was deferring to her partner, yet she wanted to ask questions because she was afraid they were lost. He was the trailblazer, not wanting to believe he was lost but he was. How could I assume that? Because I overheard them wanting to go to downtown, and the direction they were going was wrong.

The arch I pointed the couple towards. Instead of walking forward, they walked to the left.

I went up to them and told them, “If you want to get to downtown, cross the bridge and walk to the arch. If you make a left at the arch, you will get right to downtown.” They thanked me, so feeling my good deed for the day was complete, I went along my way. The couple was heading in the same direction as I was, crossing the bridge, and in the back of my head I thought about making sure they were heading the right way, but I decided not to.

A few years before, the Tijuana Bridge was not a safe crossway. I was almost positive a few years ago I saw a dead body in the river. In the past, homeless encampments dotted the area. It looked like a scene from a post-apocalyptic low budget film, with dangers lurking around the pillars and wash ways. Today none of the homeless people are around. I figured there was only one area where the couple could get into trouble, but I laid the path clearly for them to follow. Head for the silver arch. It’s easy to spot. No not waver from that goal.

By the time I got across the bridge, I saw the couple found the one direction you didn’t want to go to. It was like something from a bad horror film. They were heading in the opposite direction of the arch, towards the main street, and the only way to get to the main street was to walk through a littered and filthy alleyway which was partially fenced off. It literally screamed DO NOT GO HERE. They headed straight for it.

I tried to shout down from the top of the bridge, “Go for the arch” and “You’re going the wrong way.” I thought at first they didn’t hear me, but I realized they were lost again and didn’t want to look up because it would look like they were lost. I tried to get their attention again but they moved faster to the wrong spot. The last I saw they were going through that gap in the fence, going into that dirty alley towards the main street.

 

FOOD, WONDERFUL FOOD

One reason why I love staying at Pueblo Amigo is less than a block away there is a grocery store. It’s a big store, which includes household items, toys, electronics and a food court. The prices are incredibly inexpensive, especially by hotel standards. What I’ve done the past few trips is I’ve spent money on dinner at the hotel, a little splurge, but I would get all other food at the store.

Today I got a chicken leg and rice, two large juice boxes and a bag of grapes. How much do you think that cost? Just for comparison, I got grapes a few days ago in Phoenix. They were on sale for $0.77 a pound and that part of the bill came to $3.50. When I did the peso to dollar conversion the bill came to $5.50! The large juice boxes alone, in Phoenix, are $1.50 each if they are on sale. By my thinking, I got the chicken and rice for free.

 

KICK IN THE TEETH

A few moments ago I got a call from my mother. I thing that I find annoying about my mother is she decided to reveal things well past the time you can do anything about it. She will deal with the issue, ponder it and sort through the pros and cons. By the time she brings me into the loop, she really already made the decision and any input I put in doesn’t matter. A few years ago she wanted to make a decision about a partnership in her will with a relative I don’t know. She had discussed the situation with him for over two weeks and she wanted me to sign off on it, we were literally 30 minutes from the lawyer’s office when she dropped the bomb on me. Naturally I had some concerns, but she told me it was kind of a done deal. You know what? When we got to the lawyer’s and before we signed the paperwork, she mentioned something and when the lawyer looked into it the whole dynamics of what she wanted to do was changed.

Right now, I think the news is too fresh. I need to take time to process everything. Yes, I hate to do this but I’ll take a few moments to stew on this, just so I can properly write and express my feelings appropriately.

 

STRANGE DAYS

Today I dealt with someone who had no thought about what I was saying and as a result they asked a question that was bad. I didn’t want to talk to them about this subject, but I’d been thinking about what my mother told me and about the implications of the news. I had to speak to someone, just for my sake to think about the issues I learned about.

Now I see where that was a mistake.

I had to make changes to this section. I went through explaining the issue my mother discussed yesterday; the thing I had to deal with. I had to erase the page or two I wrote about it. It’s a very personal thing to talk about and the repercussions about the issue effects my family and how I have to cope with some future issues.

Today, I think I made the mistake of trusting the wrong person. I was looking for a sounding board, a sympathetic ear, maybe even a shoulder to cry on. I just to talk about it in the open, just to share and not think I was crazy or cold about some of the feelings I was having.

The blank stare I got from sharing about it made me realize I had made a mistake. I think they struggled to understand but it was for me like the couple who were looking for downtown Tijuana yesterday. I laid out what I thought was a simple, straight forward path, and somehow the person got completely and utterly lost.

I decided to gently drop the subject, talk about other things, but 45 minutes later, while things were well off the subject, there was a pause of about ten seconds. Out of the blue the subject was brought up again. We were done, well off the subject, and for the longest time we talked about a lot of other material, but for some unfathomable reason they asked about the same subject again.

I share a lot on social media and my websites, but some things take time for me to process. I will probably share fully what has caused all these issues with my parents but I’m not going to lay things out bare without considering the consequences. I had hoped talking with someone would have helped ease the process, but it hasn’t. In fact, it has made things a little worse.

This vacation was supposed to give me a break for a few days from every day struggles. It hasn’t. I’m not going to say things have gotten more complicated. I need to hear the information from my parents. I need to see what one acquaintance was capable, or not capable of. What am I going to do at the moment? I’m going to do something I should have done on this trip. I’m going to have fun. I’m going to walk away from the keyboard and just have a few laughs. Tomorrow I head back bright and early to 110+ degree temperatures.

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Dream Big and Real

My dream job was to work for one of the big two comic book companies and have a long and distinguished career. Writing came natural for me and knew what was involved in having a career because I knew several people who had careers for writing for comics. Some I would call a friend, because we worked together at a certain comic shop in San Diego (this is the comic book writer, not the novel writer, oh yes, not so subtle name dropping without mentioning names) had a wonderful stint at Marvel and DC Comics.

Yes, I knew how to get to my dream job and I just needed luck to get in.

Well, as Obi-Wan said, “there’s no such thing as luck.”

Luck is what you forge yourself and luck is dependent on what you consider luck.

There were a lot of writers I studied in the 80s when I was working to break into comics and get the dream job. My friend you got to work for Marvel and DC became so successful that he had two or three movies, depending on how you count, made about his character. (Hint: Winter is coming, soldier) I would have imagined this would bring fame, fortune and financial security.

He’s not working for the major companies right now. He still produces comics, very successful comics but they aren’t household characters. People in comics will know where to find his material but you won’t see is work mass produced on T-shirts and jumping out from cereal boxes. He’s content where he is because the one thing I never understood about the industry is the amount of control you can lose when you are tied into the massive money-making machine.

I’ve read about the commerce vs. art wars all the time. I’ve been involved in small scale skirmishes myself; where I felt the integrity of the work was sacrificed because of sales or higher ups wanting to take a safe path. It’s a battle that the artist will always struggle with. What happens is you begin to realize how fickle fame is, especially on the level with a massive fan base like Marvel and DC with the whole movie and TV universes. You may want to make a dramatic, life altering change to the character, but that might be counter to possible product and merchandising options down the road. You want to make the change for the art, the company, the people who pay your salary, wants to keep things the same. You butt heads but it is fruitless to fight the battle. Either you keep the status quo or the thousands of people who also dream of becoming the next big creator will gladly grab the brass ring and you will be fired.

The artist life, be it music, acting or writing, they always must think about the struggle of being successful and the “be true to your art” attitude. If you want to define your craft, whatever it is, by how much material things you have, well, it will be a beast of a struggle. People sometimes talk about being edgy or different, but acceptance and compromise will make you successful. It’s contrary to what we believe because what we think is edgy and different isn’t measured by what small town safe Middle America is thinking in a clutch the pearls moment.  The successful creators will instinctively know when to push the envelope and when to pull back. They will learn what battles are worth fighting for and which ones where you take a bullet for the greater good.

But, coming back to the main point, you must define what is successful so that you know what is a compromise, what is fighting for principle and knowing what your goal is. I am by no means successful in terms of fame and fortune. My parents remind me of that every chance they get. The problem is I don’t have the same definition of success as they have and that is why we aren’t on the same page. My parents have a general 50s attitude on success. They want me to have the wife, kids, house, car, church going, God fearing, community leader kind of success. I’m not looking to be the next pillar of the community, because from my POV, many of the strong community leaders haven’t been leaders. They haven’t been happy with the responsibility. Because they have been held up as examples and community leaders, when they have fallen, and they have fallen hard, many will look at them with shame and pity.

I don’t want to be Kirk, Picard, Sheridan or Blake (from Blake’s 7). I’ve always been comfortable as Scotty, La Forge, Garibaldi or Avon (from Blake’s 7). I’m the guy who will got down and dirty to get the job done. It’s might not be pretty but I’ll get results. I don’t need a lot of the fame, but a little recognition goes a long way for me. I’m making a little money from writing, or from any creative stuff in general, but I have a job that pays the bills and I can have a bit left over so I can enjoy myself. That all I’m looking to have right now. I just want to be happy and even keel.

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My Friend Insomnia Returned

I got a couple of hours sleep today. Three I think. No, two. I went to bed just after 11pm. I noticed the radio was off just before 1am. I lost internet connectivity, which I knew was a bad sign for me because without listening to something, I would stay awake for hours. I tried stay in bed, but I was frustrated because I had no internet and because I wasn’t getting back to sleep.

Five minutes later, slightly annoyed and frustrated, I woke up. I went to my computer and yes, there was caution sign showing I had a local connection. I should have realized it might be a minor glitch, but I wasn’t thinking. I reset the modem and I figures I’d wash some clothes and watch some bad TV, which at 1am, turned out to be Dateline: Mysteries. This is a show where they show real life crimes and with dramatic music, a serious and gravelly voiced narrator, and just a few missteps to make you guess who is the real killer, it is the kind of show that sneaks up on you with interest on a late Sunday night/ Monday morning.

By the first commercial break, I was reminded I wanted to do the laundry and I loaded some clothes in and started the wash. By the second commercial break, I remembered I wanted to check the internet connection.

The good news that the connection was back. The bad news is I’m wide awake. So now I’m washing clothes, watching Dateline and surfing the web. I can’t sleep. Starting the day right (not!).

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Life Lesson from Star Citizen

Sometimes frustrating advice can be helpful in seeing past the BS and clarify the issue.

Yesterday I posted an article about the ships I had in Star Citizen. I was trying to work out an ideal formula for the playstyle I have in the game, the options I wanted for professions I wanted to pursue and to do this on an affordable amount. I put the information on my website and I posted the information to Spectrum, the official Star Citizen forum.

After an unrelated call to my mother (which went alright until the last five minutes of conversation when things turned sour) I checked the responses to my Spectrum inquiry. It seemed like it was a continuation of the call to my mother because instead of helpful information I was lightly criticized for my post. To be precise there were 3 responses at that time, and they were either confused as to the actual question or I was accused of being naïve because the ships were of unremarkable value and they assumed I was bragging about the ships I had.

A few hours later I had three more responses, still wondering if I was bragging with mediocre ships or not understanding the question. I will say that I didn’t put the inquiry in the form of a question, but I thought I had been clear about looking for options for my profession. By 6pm I decided to terminate the thread.

What I found interesting about the thread was before I terminated it I had close to 70 people reading the thread. For a post being up for 13 hours that was a good number in my eyes. Probably if I focused on the reads I might have been satisfied with that as a positive take away, but with the few responses and my mindset, there wasn’t a way for me to put a positive spin on things.

What confused me about the inquiry, especially about the bragging aspect, is that I didn’t think by listing the ships I had constituted bragging. On constant videos on YouTube, I’ll see ship reviews or players doing test on ships. I will see them scroll through the ships in the kiosk. Some have a little, some have a lot. I don’t assume they’re bragging about the ships they own.

I did explain how I wanted to stay focused on my profession in the game, but I wanted to multi-task. I used as an example the Drake Caterpillar, which is a ship I think is very cool looking and would love to buy if I had the money, but since it hauls freight and I have two ships capable of hauling freight and it needs a crew of 4, as much as I like it I will probably pass on it.

That’s how my thinking goes with purchases. I think of the uses, the options and ultimately I will decide if it is a good fit or not. I figured, since there are sites and videos that goes through explanations and options for determining ship purchases, I could explain my thought process.

Like I said, I was more confused than mad about the misinterpretation of my sentiment. There was a time soon after I joined Star Citizen that I had a problem with griefing and the response, basically, was for me to suck it up. I didn’t like the responses, but I took measures to make changes to my play style, which meant learning PVP skills. Now, when it arrives that I get griefed I can handle the situation a lot easier.

I have had to handle the “pressures” of work in a way I have to deal with “griefing” in Star Citizen. When there are certain obstinate sites or vendors at the site, I try not to get mad at the situation. When I try to push my way to the resolution I want, there can be unwanted pushback, which makes me push back and it could get ugly. If I put a smile on my face (it’s fake since it’s on the phone) and listen and work to find the core issue and get it resolved, it tends to end up OK for all involved. I may not give them the answer they want, but at the end the stores and vendors know I’ve exhausted all avenues to resolve the issue.

I’ve realized I’m better off as roleplaying in Star Citizen and that is how I’ll handle issues in the future. It has already paid off because that evening Star Citizen had a Father’s Day sale with two racing ships for sale. The redundant explorer ship I owned I traded in for the one of the racing ships. It didn’t cost anything as I traded in hanger for the price difference. It looks like I might be making a few trades in the next few weeks which will further stabilize my multi-profession activities in the game.

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