James Martini archive

Date : August 2011 (12)

This Blog Sucks

Categories: Life
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Published on: August 25, 2011

I think that this interview with Ira Glass pretty much sums up why I’ve always bailed out of many of the creative endeavors I’ve begun. Thanks to WWdN: In Exile for bringing it to my attention.

So if you’re reading this crap blog on even a semi-regular basis (sorry Jyllian) be prepared for it to suck. A lot at first, maybe less a few years down the line. Who knows, twenty years down the line when I’m shaking my liver spotted fist at kids with their direct neural interfaces and semi-autonomous matrix zones this blog may continue to suck. Maybe I’ll achieve perfect zen beginners mind and suck as much at the end as I do at the beginning.

Which brings me to what I love about zen, nothing to achieve which takes long, difficult years full of hard work sitting down to accomplish. You achieved enlightenment? That’s nice, did you remember to take out the trash and scoop the cat box?

Author’s disclaimer: not an enlightened being by any stretch of the imagination.

It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Categories: Buddhism, Family
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Published on: August 20, 2011

I’ve been an asshole today. It started out okay, I went out this morning and picked up donuts for my daughter and also surprised my sister-in-law and niece with some as well. There was some confusion regarding what Jyllian wanted and what I thought they were called so I picked her up a big cinnamon roll. Pickings were scarce and the bakery was like a combination mob scene and Running Man food riot.

Anyway, I was feeling all good about myself and puffed up with what a good Dad and all around great guy I was when I brought Jyllian coffee and the cinnamon roll. What I didn’t remember was that she’d gotten sick after eating a cinnamon roll a couple weeks before. She said “ugh” as her stomach rolled over and handed the plate to Emily which completely let all the air out of my inflated self esteem. I didn’t get the praise and accolades I was looking forward to. How dare she!

With my vanity wounded I barked out something that inadvertently hurt her feelings and went downstairs to nurse my bruised ego. I ended up working out in the yard; mowed the grass, cleaned up dead leaves, watered the plants and moved the woodpile to it’s new location, holding on to my anger and wounded pride the entire time. I finally had to come in as it was after noon, over a hundred degrees and I was flirting with heat stroke.

After a shower and some water I sat down in my office to finally have a cup of coffee and that cinnamon roll while I read only to find that Zak had vomited hair into the top air vent of my desktop computer. All the anger came rushing back and I spent the next hour cleaning my office and generally barking at anyone who came within twenty feet of me. I got my office clean but made my daughter cry and barked “I’m not angry!” at Jyllian which would have been funny at any other time.

The girls went out to go swimming while I continued to work on my office and clean up the house. With the quiet and lack of targets for me to blame for my assholery I had to admit that I was the one acting out and that my girls had been trying to find a way to help me feel better.

I’d love to say that I’ve learned and grown from this experience but to be honest this isn’t the first time I’ve just been a general ass to everyone around me simply because things weren’t going my way or I’d had my pride stepped on. Next time maybe I’ll pull my head out of my ass a little more quickly though.

I txted Jyllian an apology and spent some time hanging one of the strings of prayer flags she and Emily got me for Father’s Day which have been buried in the general chaos of my office. I also made space for another present that Jyllian got me, my Buddha Board, by putting my desktop machine under my desk where the cat can’t vomit on it as easily.

Tibetan prayer flagsI’ll hang the second string soon but have to trim the evil holly bush with the sharp leaves before I can get a clear run from the house to the tree. I’m sure there’s some lesson lurking in that statement but, to be honest, I’m a little too wiped out at the moment to try being profound.

The Itis

Categories: Fitness
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Published on: August 19, 2011

My knees hurt a little the other day. It’s not entirely unexpected, I’ve had issues with my knees since I fenced too much in college with too little warmup and I’ve been loading about ten pounds a week onto my squats. I took some ubuprofin, glucosamine and chondroiton and took an extra recovery day.

Yesterday: same deal. Not as bad but I figured I’m over 40 so being conservative with the joints was a good idea.

Now not only do my knees still hurt and feel “full” but the second knuckle joints on my right middle and ring fingers feel the same. WTF? I don’t even work those. My left shoulder, however, is just fine even though it’s always been a little stiff.

About the only change in my diet is that I added milk because I was worried about making sure I got enough calcium and protein to support the extra stress I was putting on my body. I guess GOMAD is not in my future (not that I was GOingMAD to begin with). Back to salads, veges, water and meat.

So, in conclusion, don’t grow up kids. Stop aging once you hit about 26 because it’s all downhill from there. If that isn’t an option, get fit as hell in your mid twenties and hang onto it. Trying to reverse a decade of bad food and no exercise in your 40s is not an easy road.

One Day of Peace

Categories: Life
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Published on: August 17, 2011

Sometimes you look at a problem and it’s just too big. You don’t even begin to know where to start or whether any effort you make will make the slightest bit of difference. Quite frequently these are precisely the problems that most need a solution but any action you can conceive of would be like attempting to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems that afflict us at the personal level let alone on a global scale.

We forget the power of a single person armed with an idea and unshakable determination.

 “A man has an idea. The idea attracts others; likeminded. The idea grows. The idea becomes an institution.” — Top Dollar

I shouldn’t love this but I do

Categories: Buddhism, Gaming
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Published on: August 15, 2011

 

Achievement Unlocked!

Categories: Family, Fitness, Gaming
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: August 14, 2011

I’ve tried a number of ways of staying motivated when it comes to exercise and other long term goals. I’ve written the goals out, stuck them to my wall, put reminders in my phone, just about everything recommended to self motivate but in the long run it’s usually failed. I even tried recasting the activities in my mind as ‘leveling up’ various stats i.e. the gamer’s fitness program.

Looking back, everything I always achieved at had some sort of cert, diploma or other badge of completion at the end. When playing MMOs I always set my eye on the high end achievements and every session attempted to make some progress towards that goal. The more difficult the achievement the more I wanted it. The Loremaster? No problem. Hand of A’dal? Now we’re talking.

A few weeks ago I really didn’t feel like going to the gym. I wasn’t sick or anything, just being generally lazy but I went anyway. When I got back I posted the following on Facebook: “Achievement Unlocked: I Lift Things Up And Put Them Down.” It got a few odd responses from friends who either didn’t play video games or hadn’t seen the Planet Fitness ad. I didn’t realize it at the time but I may have finally hit on the perfect motivational tool for hardcore gamers.

I like gaming for the relaxing pass time that it is and don’t get overly wound up by pvp losses or wiping in raids. I enjoy pvp and raiding for themselves and while motivated to win I can accept losses as part of the ebb and flow of the game. Achievements, however, are another matter. A list of achievements does something deep down in a part of my brain that is obsessively neat and ordered. I will choose an achievement and work towards it with each gaming session. I won’t make myself unhappy with grinding but each achievement comes with a set of goals and each play session allows me to take a step towards those goals. In short, it focuses and guides what would otherwise be unstructured game play.

Yesterday, while working on this website, I thought it might be funny to include an Achievements page like those found in most MMOs and on XBox. I jotted a few down and found that as I went more and more came to mind. Joke achievement lists I’d seen on the internet were looked up and merged in and I started looking at expanding the list beyond just fitness. The list currently stands at 24 achievements and is growing.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal but I’ve spent thousands of hours playing games and pursuing achievements over the past few years. That’s thousands of hours of training my mind to hold on to a goal and to shape my actions towards achieving it.

I put the list up yesterday. As I went about my day today I realized that the list was in the back of my mind and that I was sorting out what could be done in the short term and what needed a long term siege approach, which achievements could be worked on simultaneously and which ones it wasn’t feasible to do at the same time. By plugging my goals into the same achievement/reward model I’ve been trained to pursue by MMOs it looks like I can leverage years of conditioning to accomplish real life goals.

I’m pretty sure that after reading this my wife is going to hack my wordpress account so she can add housework achievements to the list.

I secretly envy Wil Wheaton’s beard.

Categories: Family
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Published on: August 14, 2011

Me: I should probably shave before church.
Jyllian: Maybe
Me: I don’t know, the stubble does make me look roguish.
Jyllian: …
Me: It’s all right, you can say yes.

A Long Day of Updates

Categories: Wordpress
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Published on: August 13, 2011

It’s been quite a day for Monkeyhouse Zendo:

  • Updated the template
  • Tied the blog into my twitter feed
  • Added entries to the blogroll
  • Added an ‘Achievements‘ page
  • Cleaned up some of the categories

I think the design is finally at a point that is visually simple enough for me without being utterly bland. It’s functional enough that I can use it.

Left to do:

  • Create a stylesheet for the Achievements page
  • Figure out why tags and other metadata isn’t showing on posts
    • metadata does show up but not in Chrome
  • Enable comments

What? You mean it was a scam?

Categories: Gaming
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Published on: August 13, 2011

One of the largest EVE scams finally closed it’s doors netting the perpetrators over a trillion in ISK which is valued about about $50,000 it you translate that into plex/game time. I remember seeing somebody pimping the Phaser Inc ponzi scheme some time ago in Jita and dropped a little math on him but apparently even nerds playing internet spaceships can be suckered by the siren call of a deal that is just way too good to be true.

I have to hand it to the two guys who ran it (Eddie and Mordor), this scam was unbelievably successful and far more clever than the standard hot, lonely teenage girl scams or even the manipulation of buy orders and contracts via Margin Trading.

The Phaser Inc website is closed with this message:

Today is the day many expected to come.

Today, the 12th of August 2011, is the day where it all comes together.
Phaser Inc. is done, over, finished.
After a stunning period of eight months, we decided it’s enough. 

No more new accounts. 
No more mails.
No more payout days.
No more ISK.

No more Phaser Inc.

Most likely, this will cause a lot of questions.
The most important question will be answered right here, right now.
The ISK is gone; you will not see it ever again.
You’ve invested it, got a chance on some profit, but it turned out to be not the best choice you’ve ever made. That’s how investing works. At least, that’s how it went for the most of you.

Epic way to part a host of fools from their money guys. P.T. Barnum is applying to your corp from beyond the grave. Well played.

Pulling the Trigger

Categories: Gaming
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Published on: August 12, 2011

 

I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting a guild in Star Wars: The Old Republic very loosely based on Buddhist ethical principles. I think it might be a good thing and to some extent might act as an antidote to some of the more egregious behavior that is becoming the norm in MMOs. Bioware has provided a system with which you can pre-register a guild and I’m already camping the name I want (Luminous Beings) but I’ve held off on recruiting because it’s difficult to know what a person is like until you’ve actually played with them.

When it comes down to it, forming a stable guild with a purpose other than having a cool tag over your head is a daunting endeavor. It’s like starting a business, you need to identify the value proposition which will set it apart from other guilds, prepare documents like a mission statements, procedures and an org chart. Once it’s more than a few people you need to appoint officers and delegate authority. There’s a guild bank to manage and the internal culture to develop. And then there’s the drama. No guild of more than five people is complete without drama.

So the question before me is this: do I pull the trigger and begin development of a guild website, charter, mission statement and code of conduct before I know more than a couple people in this game? My old guild isn’t migrating from WoW and I’ve been out of touch with most of them for over a year so I’ll essentially be starting from scratch.

I’ll guess I’ll put off the website decision for a while as I get the mission statement, organization, and code of conduct put together.

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