Category Archives: education

The Importance of Excellent Spelling Skills

The Eternal Sophomore Tackles Spelling
SHCOOL is painted along the newly paved road leading to Southern Guilford High School on Drake Road Monday, August 9, 2010, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/News & Record, Joseph Rodriguez)

Oscar Wilde in the 1895 play “The Importance of Being Earnest” once said, “To lose one parent, […] may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both seems like carelessness.”

While Wilde uses that quote to illustrate the sometimes ludicrous nature of “high” society, it has a more powerful message when you look at it through the eyes of a writer.

In today’s instant gratification, instant information culture, the amount of time we have to create copy/content has become extremely limited. Writing on deadline is not only a journalistic ideal, but a mandatory part of SEO writing as well. The unrelenting demand for content has come with a terrible side effect, the loss of accurate spelling, punctuation and sentence structure.

Every morning I start my day with a look through multiple digital media outlets. I start with The Wall Street Journal and New York Times; make my way down the coast to Atlanta and CNN; then to the West for The LA Times; across the pond to BBC News from London; then round out my digital globetrotting with the Associated Press and Reuters’ websites to read the breaking news. After that, it’s checking my local news on all three broadcast networks and finally sitting down with a print copy of the local newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal or “RJ.” Yeah, I consume a lot of news before I have finished breakfast.

The one thing that I have repeatedly noticed? Typos everywhere.

In our mad rush to sate audiences with fresh content, we’ve either forgotten to proofread or we have become far too reliant on spell-check. I catch typos with frightening regularity in large publications like The New York Times and USA Today. Every time I spot a typo or a fumbled sentence, I sit back and ask two questions:

Doesn’t the writer realize that typos damage the credibility of their story? Don’t they realize that they are damaging the reputation of their publication each time they don’t thoroughly check their work?

I’d hate to think that most news stories are entered through a smartphone, but odds are that’s closer to the truth than I even realize – because I have caught some errors that could only be attributed to auto-correct.

The argument can be made by those who think the typo is “okay” that people are lazy and don’t read past the headline. To that I ask, what about those who do read past the headline? Should the people actually reading the entire article be forced to put up with atrocious spelling and expect their work to be called “credible”?

My answer? Each time I see a typo, I can’t help but think that writers are dropping the ball and not doing their jobs right.

One of my favorite sayings is:

“Spell well, write well, communicate unforgettably.”

It’s pretty simple, right? It just says that when you spell well, your writing has a fighting chance to reach and impact an audience. But then again, I may be asking too much. After all, as a wise friend of mine once said, “Not everyone speaks Sheri,” meaning that I communicate differently than most everyone else.

I wrote script and cursive and read aloud from National Geographic by the time I was four and then wrote my first lines of computer code by the time I was eight. But it all boiled down to one thing, I have always known the importance of spelling. The reason that I began reading so early is because I was taught to sound out my words, using phonics to make sure I was pronouncing words correctly. When it came time to write, I used the inverse, sounding out the words to ensure their proper spelling on the page. Over my lifetime spelling has become my stock in trade, so when I see a typo or witness the desecration of the English language on social media, I cringe. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we all be cringing when we see a typo? I would think so, but maybe that’s just me.

When you write, you have to make sure that your word usage and spelling are accurate. I’m often told that I own “The Vocabulary of Awesome” because I use words that other people usually don’t. The truth is that really I don’t own “The Vocabulary of Awesome,” I just make sure that when I write that I use the perfect words to convey my thoughts or emotions. I have no fear of saying “I don’t know”, so going to a dictionary to look up a word’s proper spelling or definition doesn’t bother me one bit. At least I know that when I write, I can at least reach the bar of good spelling skills, which in the end, gives me outstanding credibility. (It makes me fun to read, too.)

Right now, in schools all over the world, they are taking handwriting out of the curriculum. To me, that is tantamount carelessly wiping an endangered species off the map. When we take handwriting away, we take away a sensory mechanism for teaching proper spelling. Besides, in our instant information/instant gratification culture, a handwritten letter sent by snail mail has become a treasured artifact.

So, for me, the next time you go on social media, write an article or attempt to communicate with the world, make sure what you write is spelled properly. It will do your credibility a world of good. Think of it this way, when you spell well, people take you seriously and your “street cred” (“cred” being short for the word “CREDIBILITY”) will skyrocket. If that fails to convince you, think of Oscar Wilde:

“One typo may be regarded as a misfortune. Two or more seems like carelessness.”

1,825

In any job interview, there is always one question that sticks out: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

When that question has come up for me in the past, I never really had an answer. Do any of us? We’re all so busy trying to survive, I don’t think a lot of us have the foresight to look that far down the road and think “THAT is where I want to be in five years.” It’s usually, “Am I going to be able to make rent next month?” or “I’m more worried about the next six months than I am the next five years. Who knows where I’ll be?”

1,825 days ago, a life-changing event happened to me that threatened to take me down for the count: I discovered my then-husband in bed with someone else.

I don’t care who you are, when you find the person you promised to love “until death do you part” inserting his Tab “A” into someone else’s Slot “B”, your mind will reel.  When it happened to me, I was decimated. My world as I had known it had crumbled and I was powerless to stop it or do anything about it.

When I asked him if he ever considered my feelings when I found out about his affair, all I received as an answer was a very icy, “No.” He could have cared less about how badly he had hurt me. As far as he was concerned, he didn’t want me anymore. He had found someone new and he was moving on, end of story. It became quite clear he had no ethical objections to abandoning me as he quickly left town to move across the country with his new whatever-she-is, only to impose on me to pay for storing his stuff until he was ready to come pick it up. He even left his car behind which I had to start once a week, a constant reminder of how little I meant to him, forced to care for someone’s things who could have cared less about me.

While the pain of the betrayal really rocked my world for the first couple of years after being left with almost nothing, I have given up on being bitter because it’s just a waste of time. Now, I just hope my ex-husband has found contentment with the choices he has made and now has to live with on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, every time I see a Basset Hound I quietly chuckle to myself along with Chihuahuas remaining  in my mind as footballs-on-feet just waiting to be punted through the uprights. I think of it this way: if I can embrace one of the darkest and most sinister betrayals I have ever encountered with that much of a sense of humor, I’m doing pretty good; it’s all that’s really left of the anger I have for my ex-husband. Oh, but that thing he ran off with? The only thing I have to say about that is that I’m really sorry no one ever told her that she came with a shelf life. Judging by his first two wives’ clocks, she’s only got a little bit of time left until she’s discarded for a newer model. I’m sorry if that disappoints anyone but just on principle there are some things I just haven’t had the ability to let go because no matter how hard anyone may try, there’s just no way to shove the manure back into the horse on that one. She asked for it, she got it.

In the aftermath, I immediately reached out to my friends for support. The very first person I reached out to was my close friend KP because he had gone through something eerily similar and I knew I could trust and rely on his wisdom.  As my voice trembled through relaying the events that had just transpired, KP did what he has always done for me, he ‘kept it real’. He told me that there was no time for a pity party, no time for blame, hatred or revenge, but that I had only one pressing task ahead of me: “to build a bridge and get over it.”

While KP and I spoke daily to help me get my bridge components together, my massive support structure, consisting of my virtual family from around the globe, immediately built a fortress of protection around me.  Their words of comfort  and encouragement became my strength as I endured the trauma that immediately occurs when you are forced to go through the process of marital demise, something I like to call “The Six Week Epic Suck”.

After that first six weeks and multiple discussions with family and friends, I realized that I was being faced with a character-defining moment: how I would handle the situation would define me and eventually tell me what kind of person I really was.  I had a choice to make: I could either ride the shame spiral forever and let what happened defeat me, or I could defiantly pick myself up by my bootstraps, keep on walking and build myself a new life while I worked with KP on the emotional blueprints of the bridge that would help me get over a marriage gone belly-up.

So, I broke out the metaphorical hammer and nails, requesting old transcripts and ACT scores. Then I did something completely nuts: deciding to build the remainder of my bridge out of education: I went back to school, gaining admission on appeal to UNLV.

With his long history in academia, I decided to speak with my ex-husband about what major I should choose. I relayed to him that I was at a crossroads between my two life long loves: advertising –  which was housed in the journalism school – or go with what I do effortlessly and naturally: teaching. He immediately suggested that I major in education, because it wouldn’t require the self-promotion that I would have to do to be successful in a career in advertising (that I had dreamed of since I was a little girl). At seeing first-hand how many times his decisions had landed him on the rocks by losing him more than a few jobs in the time I had known him, combined with his arrogant, condescending tone which had gained him more than a few political enemies and an evisceration by the local press, I thought it best not to follow his advice. I immediately majored in Journalism and Media Studies.

1,825 days later, I am surrounded by the souvenirs of a journey of self-discovery. I look on my shelves and see a collection of academic works that I have used to start my own home library; a pile of notebooks filled with hand-written class notes chronicling more credit hours than I can count; a drawer full of university t-shirts and baseball caps, and a collection of photos filled with memories. The most important thing that marks the closing of this cycle in my life is my new  academic degree, a Bachelor of Arts, in get this:

Journalism and Media Studies with a focus in Integrated Marketing Communications with a minor in Leadership and Civic Engagement.”

Could that degree title get any longer? It’s definitely a mouthful.

Allow me to translate: Journalism and Media Studies means that I’m a student of the mass media, that I’m also a critic of that same media and that simply, I can write news stories, feature stories and things you would find through any news outlet.

A focus in Integrated Marketing Communications means that simply, I know how to use social media effectively for marketing purposes. The fun part is that my AA in Graphic Design for the Web ties in nicely here. This also means I can help you choose the right social media channels and a pile of additional fancy stuff that if I kept writing about it, we’d be here all day.

A minor in Leadership and Civic Engagement means that I have learned the leadership techniques, methods and awareness that you would find in the skill-set of a really great CEO.

You know, I would have never guessed in a million years that when my ex-husband left that he would inspire an epic comeback. That five years later I’d be sitting here helping everyone figure out that even though I’ve got some fancy-schmantzy degree title, I’m still just me, only with a new skill-set in some cases, and an existing skill-set that I’ve just made even better. Not to sound prideful, but the things I was good at before have evolved into something more akin to a juggernaut.

I know lots of folks that have let the disintegration of their marriage destroy their lives. One of my friends drinks a lot and you can tell the experience left a hole where my vibrant, funny friend used to be. Another one of my friends nearly had a nervous breakdown because of their extremely messy divorce, only to have their finalized divorce papers act as Carte Blanche to immediately find a new spouse, then wondering why that marriage went down in flames too. Yet another friend is constantly terrorized by their ex, making them even afraid to leave the house or post on Facebook for fear of another round of cruel eviscerations on social media.

I see the aftermath of marital demise all around me every day. I’m no saint by a long shot because I’ve even been through a fiasco or two since my marriage fell from bliss and landed with a resounding THUD.  But what remains is one simple fact: When my ex hit the door, I went to work on myself. Kinda like the Six Million Dollar Man…”We can rebuild her…” because no one was going to do it for me, the only person that could do that rebuilding was myself – and I’m still not done.

Towards the end, there were moments where I thought I wouldn’t see graduation. There were days where people told me they seriously doubted I would succeed because of the massive setbacks I had endured on my journey. The most mortifying question came from someone extremely close who asked,

“Well, you are going to finish, aren’t you?”

When I heard that question come from the mouth of someone who is naturally expected to be supportive, I never came so close to decking someone I love in all my life. To me, that’s an insult because you can tell they really don’t know jack beans about me.

Case in point:

When I was a kid, a friend of mine found me crying after a really hard day of being viciously bullied. I had tried to hide somewhere where I thought no one would find me but he did. He looked down at me and said, “Sheri, are you okay?” He said that my response changed his life. He said my 15-year-old face just looked up at him, sniffled and said, “I’m not okay right now, but I’m going to be.”

That same friend used to watch helplessly as a pack of ignorant bullies made it their daily mission to viciously attack me, every chance they got, day in and day out for YEARS. I guess you could say they had refined their ignorance into a science, calling me all sorts of names, terrorizing my every breath, much less move, and overall making sure that they exploited every opportunity to make my life into a living hell. If you ever saw Pretty In Pink, think of the dynamic between Molly Ringwald’s character and James Spader’s, that’s basically it.

What astounded my friend the most is that those bullies, no matter how cruel they got, no matter how horrific their attempts, they never broke my spirit. Of course, the more those bullies failed in their attempts to break my spirit, the more vicious they would become; leaving my friend to remark that he had never in his life seen anyone take such vicious mental beatings over such a prolonged period and survive it.

Here’s the secret: the one thing I knew, which no one else seemed to catch on to, was the fact  that I had hope. I knew things in the future had a chance at becoming better, however unlikely it seemed at the time.  I knew, even then, that change is the one constant in the universe that descends on all of us, whether we like it or not. Like Doc Cat says: “Change isn’t always possible, it’s probable.”

Admittedly, the bullying I was forced to endure during my childhood was there for a reason. All of the pain, hurt and tragedy I have endured is all connected to this one beautiful moment. Without them I wouldn’t have the fortitude and heart that has inevitably carried me when I thought I couldn’t take another step.  When I set my mind to do something, I will never waiver, I will never quit, I will never fail.  God help the person who decides to pull the Darwin Award Winning move of telling me that they doubt my competence by stating I can’t do something, I’ll do it anyway just to prove I can.

If you push me down. I’ll get back up.

If you tear me apart, I’ll  put myself back together.

If you set me on fire and try to destroy me, I’ll just rise from the ashes.

1,825 days filled with love, hope and recovery – all mixed with a healthy dose of humor.

From Day 1, all the way to Graduation.

It’s me and Teddy, in the middle of the Mojave, dreaming of better days ahead.

I’m Sheri. I’m a wise fool. I’ve been through hell and back again, but I have persevered.

 

Life’s Movie Moments: Twister

Disclaimer: This one goes a little long. Make sure you go to the bathroom before you start. You may want to grab a snack and a drink on the way back.

Two weeks ago, I got a large manilla envelope in the mail from the county courthouse. Judging from the content of my last post, you can probably guess what was inside: a bundle of legal documents also known as my divorce papers.

When I first saw the envelope, I was expecting it to be the final divorce decree, so in my own way I dreaded opening it. But, I sucked it up and charged head first into the breach. In true Sophomore fashion, it wasn’t what I expected at all. Attached to the top of the pile of papers was a note informing me of something I would have never guessed would happen.

I think I may be the only woman in the world besides Helen Hunt’s character “Jo” in the film Twister to forget to sign the final page of her divorce papers.

As I read what was attached to the top of the document, I was mystically transported into the film with Jamie Gertz’s character of “Melissa” (complete with long Bassett Hound ears, surrounded by a snarling pack of rabid footballs on feet) looking at my ex and asking “Did she sign it? [pause] She didn’t!?!?”

Unlike Jo, I didn’t do it on purpose. It wasn’t some desperate attempt to keep my ex-husband in my life. I was just so stressed out by the whole process that I simply missed a page.

Upon realizing that my signature and address were missing from the most important page of the document, I filled it in. As I did though, there was a lump the size of a softball in the pit of my stomach. I was suddenly filled with a deep regret realizing that my life, as I once knew it, had come to an end.

But here I am, talking about endings again. Seems I’ve had a lot of them lately, but like the Myst Universe teaches:

The harder an end is to face, the more hope we take with us to the next beginning.

That’s really what I’ve got my mind focused toward right now, new beginnings. As I’m finding out, while the lessons of the Myst Universe are poignant and extremely worthwhile to keep in my pocket, I still feel like I’m caught in the middle of Twister.

If you remember from Twister, there is a scene where Jo’s whole gang of storm chasers is sitting around the table at Aunt Meg’s: Dusty’s going on about “imminent rueage” in regards to a rival storm chaser, Cary Elwes’ character “Jonas”, futile attempts to go head-to-head against Bill’s “The Extreme.” That line of conversation is followed quickly by talk about the Fujita Scale and the F5 tornado being called “The Finger of God.”

Remembering that movie moment reminded me of how fast and out of control my life has been since that April afternoon when it seemed my world had completely shattered.

If you don’t remember, here’s the clip:

My moment of regret is more akin to what Meg says to Jo: “He didn’t keep his part of the bargain. To spend his life pining for you and die miserable and alone.”

Every time I see the scene between Jo and Aunt Meg, I think especially of my Auntie June. I remember after my ex left, she had very similar words for me.

Meanwhile, back in the real world… After signing the last remaining page, I found myself downtown in a long line outside of the County Clerk’s office. In line with me was a man whose life’s work is serving divorce papers. He mentioned the diametric opposition of how men and women handle the news. He noted how women accept the situation with strength and composure while men crumble to pieces. I was quite surprised by the revelation, and it made the very emotionally troubling trip worth it as it made me laugh during a moment that threatened to make me cry.

It was then that a woman named Karen came out and asked me what I was there for, so I handed her the envelope and she proceeded to check it over and inform me that she would send it over to the judge’s office.

With that experience behind me, I got into my car for the trek home and the entire time driving, for the first time I didn’t find the need to dwell on it. I guess you could say that the bridge my friend KP helped me build to get over it was hard at work holding me up.

However, any way I try to slice it, I’m in what Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character “Dusty” calls “the suck zone” because I feel like a tornado has come and sucked me up into the middle of it.

As I’ve written a thousand times before, when you are handed a rough situation, you have to make choices. Whether we want to admit it or not, the choices we make when things seem at their worst is what defines us. The emotional risk we all fear becomes unavoidable and in that moment we either stand strong or we crumble.

Since I am a notorious (to the point of self-destructive) emotional base jumper, I guess it’s time for me to get a little extreme. I’ve made my choice and no matter how scared I get, I’ve got to walk up to the raging storm ahead of me, tell it to “have a drink,” chuck the bottle into the tornado and be just as amazed as everyone else when the bottle never hits the ground.

Inside the storm is my final semester at UNLV. I got all my classes lined up and during the time between now and May, I’ll apply for graduation, get fitted for my cap and gown; get my photos taken in my cap and gown (especially for Mom) then have my graduation invitations printed and mailed out. That’s all got to happen while I’m taking Photojournalism with an award-winning photographer, going through a stint as a Leadership Intern and wrapping it up with my Leadership Capstone class.

Simultaneously, the lightning and thunder will be coming from the pursuit and hopefully the public release of what has become my magnum opus, finally Chasing Tron to the most unlikely of places, going into the digital universe in an effort to help parents pull their child out of what I lovingly call “Console Quicksand.”

With everything else in my world feeling unsteady, the storm clouds over my work have seemed unceasing, that is until recently. As everyone knows, since stepping out of a movie theater in 1982, I’ve spent my life desperately searching for the Encom laser to pull me into the digital universe. The best way to illustrate it is “The Grid” monologue from Tron Legacy.

The Grid.

A digital frontier.

I tried to picture clusters of information as they moved through the computer.

What did they look like?

Ships?

Motorcycles?

Were the circuits like freeways?

I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see.

And then,

one day…

I got in.

I felt like a complete idiot when I realized that my search had been fruitless because I didn’t see that it had been right in front of me all along. I had been looking for exactly what has evolved around me over the last ten years…and I’m lucky I guess because I’m the only one who can see it.

The hardest part will be taking the brunt of the storm head-on. I won’t lie, it’s going to hurt when it hits. It’s going to come from folks not ready to face hard truths I’m going to be revealing. I mean, seriously, when was the last time anyone enjoyed holding themselves accountable for the obstacles they have to admit to creating?

It’s truly hard to fathom the mere idea that my colleagues and I could possibly be the only people in the universe that will have a decisive impact in the current battle of man versus machine. I have the distinct feeling we’ll be the crew who tethers themselves to the water pipe only to have the F5 of modern technology pass over us as we watch our feet dangle over our heads as we get the rare privilege of watching the storm from the inside.

Just like the storm chasing crew in Twister, if we can get Dorothy to fly, I’ve got a distinct feeling, as a line in the film says, “We’re going to be very popular.”

It’s all down to a little more writing, long hours editing and revising, then going toe-to-toe with the most intimidating thing I’ve ever faced when I present my revolutionary idea to the world. All this with a ton of reading for my classes and homework to boot.

Outside of all that stuff, there are a few funny ironies in the film clip I posted above with even more “life imitating art” moments: First, my pals from the Hairier Legion Flight Team inside There.com will laugh their backsides off when they hear the character “Rabbit” say, “We’re going to take a little walk in the woods,” as I said that to them once while in the lead of one of our flights around the islands. And yes, I could hear them saying, “Mother of God…” just before promptly flying them into a no-fly zone on accident.

Secondly, the song “Humans Being” playing during the ‘walk in the woods’ scene by Van Hagar Halen literally has the line “like lemmings breeding” in it. You know me and my lemmings…the constant symbol of mindless following I’ve railed against now for over four years.  Yep, that’s in there too.

So ladies and gents, the only thing I can say for sure from my point of view: a storm is coming. As Dusty says,”It’s headed right for us,” only to have Bill reply,”It’s already here.”

Here’s my last dose of irony for you: If you keep track of astrological signs, I’m a Libra, one of the cardinal signs. Guess which element it rules over?

Air.

So, with that in mind, I always have to remind myself that there is always one phrase inextricably tied to air when it is in its’ excited state. You might know it best as “winds of change.”

Things are changing quickly and for the better, so for today’s song of the day, I’ve actually chosen two. From the Twister Motion Picture Soundtrack: “Humans Being” followed by what is argued by some as Eddie Van Halen’s finest instrumental, the Grammy-nominated (perfectly titled for today’s post): “Respect the Wind.”

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

This evening, walking back from the mailbox, I looked down into my hands to the large package of papers that were mailed to me by my ex.

You guessed it, after four years of waiting while he and the BHFB have been living happily ever after and buying a new house together, my divorce papers finally came.

As I was looking through them, I suddenly realized that I never really have coped full-on with the prospect of divorce itself. I mean, look at what happened…I caught him in bed with the BHFB, I tossed him out and then immediately (as in, didn’t stop, didn’t pass go, didn’t collect $200) enrolled at UNLV.  It wasn’t soon after that I got the news that he and the BHFB were packing up and moving to Kentucky of all places.

Now, to my folks and friends in Kentucky, no offense to you, but to my high-browed, educated-out-the-wazoo ex, well it might as well be ‘hillbilly hell’. Okay, do you one better: he’s Atheist in one of the most religious places in the world. You know what, I’m going to ice the cake for ya…he’s a French-Canadian, anti-gun, environmentalist, Atheist in a place where you either shoot it, stuff it or marry it; none of which is appealing to a guy with four college degrees and PhD work under his belt.

Oh, the stories that I’ve heard from him make me want to pee my pants. Just the looks he gets walking into church on Sundays is enough to get me rolling on the floor, but to hear his tales of ‘gravy that requires a chainsaw to get through that smothers everything’ from a guy who’s a marathon-running, ultra-fitness, symphony-loving, Pinot Noir snob, I cackle regularly on our bi-annual phone calls.  I mean, he’s the same guy that John L. Smith in the Review Journal took to task in his weekly column for calling Las Vegans uncultured and he ends up landing in the bluegrass, hell and gone from Louisville which is the nearest cultural center he can reasonably reach.

So with all that going on, school and me trying to get back on the horse after waiting for two years in my apartment alone, I never really did imagine what it would feel like when the papers finally came.

Looking back, I did do the Kubler-Ross model of the seven stages of grief. After all, getting abandoned, divorced or anything ground shaking like that, when you look at the empty side of the closet, when you have to teach yourself to once again sleep in the middle of the bed, and when you realize the promise you made that meant “forever” actually meant “for the time being” to your other half, you really do go through the non-linear process of going through what is logically likened to a death in the family.  When it’s all said and done, the person you loved has vanished like a puff of smoke leaving a trail of destruction behind them, leaving you standing in an empty house that used to contain your dreams.

But it’s like what KP kept insisting to me through those first two years: You’ve got to build a bridge and get over it. So, in my own way, I guess I did. Board by board, nail by nail and OOH did I smash my thumb with a hammer a few times along the way.  Well, KP never said building the bridge would be easy…

I got caught up in the fact that my life had to keep moving forward; a life filled to the brim with speed bumps along with a very large, bone-jarring pothole I had to get through to get to where I am now.

I keep thinking about the words of Atrus at the end of Myst IV: Revelation

I love that line Rand Miller speaks with such perfection: “The harder an end is to face, the more hope we take with us to the next beginning.”

Every time I’ve had to pick myself up and dust myself off (which is becoming a far, far too often occurrence), I try to concentrate on that phrase remembering a simple truth about my life that is on one part sad, but on another quite encouraging: I don’t do well in cages, no matter how gilded. Simply, I’m not the marrying type and even though I’m sure some other goofball is going to try their best to put me back into a cage (which they really say isn’t, but we all really know it is), looking at that pile of papers sitting across the room makes me realize that outside of financial benefits that come with marriage, I still believe with all my heart that it is a useless institution.

I think if you love someone that much, a piece of paper doesn’t mean anything. I mean seriously, the expense of a wedding is cost-prohibitive, from the engagement ring to the horrible cake everyone chokes down at the reception, not to mention the cost of a dress that you’re only supposed to wear once but some girls now have collections of them. That little piece of paper, that I view as the equivalent of ownership papers, only mean things to lawyers who want to be richer and vindictive people who didn’t earn a damn dime but try to take their partners for every dime they have  because they have neither the heart nor strength to put in the day-to-day work that is any serious relationship.

As far as relationships go, after my experiences and looking at that pile of papers, I’m to the point of saying “Thanks, I’m done” because in my estimation, it’s an experience I’ve had, and one I didn’t particularly like. So, I’m just going to make myself a t-shirt that reads: “Been married, learned my lesson.”

My friend Jamie once told me, “I could never imagine tying you down into a relationship.  It’s just not you. Every time you get into a relationship, the whole world watches in anguish as they see you wither and lose hope. When you’re left alone and free, you are like watching a wild horse running with all its’ grace and beauty; and things like that should never, never be caged.”

See?  That’s the beauty of NOT being a lemming…I don’t need someone else to be happy.  I’m good on my own. I’ve gone through enough experiences to know one thing about myself: I don’t do relationships because simply, they’re inconvenient. I am tired of being stressed out by other people’s drama that has nothing to do with me at all. I don’t have children and that means my life belongs to me and no one else.  So honestly, looking at that pile of papers…I’m getting that particular grin that means that I’ll finally be free. (And oooh!  That’s heady stuff!)

At the end of the day, I’m happy for my ex and the BHFB. There is someone for everyone out there. Like I always say, everyone deserves happiness, even if I still look at Chihuahua’s as footballs on feet that need to be punted or sucked up into vacuum cleaners.

I’m fortunate, I’m coming out of this as really good friends with my ex, which leaves me feeling really bad for those who are getting put through the Seven Sins wringer; having to endure the lust, gluttony, wrath, greed, envy, sloth, and pride from their exes who just won’t let up, no matter what they do. What’s sad is that you can see them out in the world every day walking around, their shoulders slumped, the light in their eyes merely a glimmer because they’re two-foot-six because of all the hammering they take from vindictive exes and their lawyers who, as KP preaches regularly, “Just need to build a bridge and get over it.”

Marriage isn’t for everyone. Certainly not for me. But for those of you who believe that the piece of paper means everything, I’ll share something my ex did with me: “It’s a formality, that’s all. Nothing changes,” which I found is the absolute truth. So really, what’s the point? Gifts? Materialistic gain? If you love someone with all your heart, reams of paper wouldn’t change that, would it?

So, I’m looking across the room at my divorce papers.  Life could be worse. At least I know I won’t ever have to go through this again. Once was plenty.

90’s Nostalgia

Ok, let’s put this into context.  Since I can’t publish this post until after the competition, I’ll date it for you.  It’s February 13, Whitney Houston died yesterday and I’m knee deep in research for the NSAC competition.

The last few weeks have been about nothing but finding the one thing that connects Nissan to the Millenials.  We found it.  Everything for the Millennials right now is about the nostalgia that these young people are now experiencing.

In your 20’s, you get to look back on all of the fun things that happened in your youth, from the toys you played with and the activities that you participated in (like playing outside) to the boy bands you loved. For me, I had a love for Duran Duran.  I was torn between John Taylor and Nick Rhodes.  As a teenager, nothing said “Rebel” to me more than a boy that had the courage to wear eyeliner and still be a man’s man, so I’ll just leave my nostalgia trip into my teens right there.

As we all know, as I hit my 20’s, I became a hippie revivalist.  I love bell bottoms, Jimi Hendrix, the whole gamut all the way to wanting my own Summer Of Love.  It’s a very tangible emotional connection to me because my rebellious nature enjoys their anti-establishment view of things.  Along with that, being a hippie revivalist of the 90’s, I was also into the grunge scene from Mother Love Bone to Pearl Jam and Nirvana.  (I still love Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, who doesn’t?)

Now comes the comedy, which brings us to my activities for the evening.  I just got done watching videos of the Spice Girls, *NSync, The Backstreet Boys and a few other 90’s tween bands.  Ok, someone call the dentist, I think I have cavities and a severe case of sugar shock going on.  By the way, my gaydar totally tripped off when I watched Lance Bass…how anyone couldn’t know that kid was gay back then is beyond me, but like I say, I don’t care if you’re blue, green, aquamarine, gay, straight, whatever, I’ve got respect and love for you all the same so it doesn’t matter if that kid was gay or not, it’s just surprising that people didn’t figure it out until he came out.

Oy veh.  I’m holding on to Eddie Vedder’s Doc Marten’s for dear life.  I have a severe need to cuddle with a piece of Kurt Cobain flannel as well.  Mid-way through going through the hundreds of vids on YouTube, I had to boot up “Smells like teen spirit” to even get a rational view of the world.  I am absolutely just mortified and repulsed by all of that sugar rah-rah.  Matching suits?  Ok, yeah, The Beatles did it, but oh wow, my 40 year-old body can not handle watching that enormous expanse of mass media induced sugar.  I dare you, go back and watch a few hundred pieces of tween media from the 90’s and I swear to you your teeth will hop out of your mouth, look at you and say, “Really?”

I mean, it’s bad enough that we’re going through Pokemon, but to hear grown men, I’m talking 22-year-old men, swooning over Tommy the Green Power Ranger, it’s enough to make me want to vomit.  I cannot believe what is coming out in the focus groups I’ve been doing.  It makes me want to run screaming like a madwoman into the night going, “NO!  No more!  I can’t take it!”  Seriously, I’m beginning to believe their whole lives were sponsored by some toy or some boy band.

But then, oh yes, I had to hear from my sweet darling Amanda (who I love dearly) say, “If *NSync put together a reunion tour, I would BUY THAT TICKET.”  When she said that, I nearly keeled over.  Oh, my body internally convulsed and I prayed for the ’03 Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial featuring Dirty Vegas’ “Days Go By” and remembering sitting on the balcony of The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel surrounded by movie and rock stars, watching The Eagles at the hotel’s opening.  By the way, watching The Eagles live totally rocks.  Don Henley on drums for the win.  Ok, for all of you Gen-X’ers who need a bit of help, here’s a link to Henley’s “Boys of Summer” to ease the sugar shock.

Don’t get me wrong, while the other students in my class were mere tweens dreaming of getting their parents to take them to a Spice Girls concert, I was impersonating Baby Spice at the nightclub I was working at, in a dance team skit for “Wannabe.”  This was of course followed up by me getting up and doing a solo as Meredith Brook’s “Bitch” just to get the sugar sloughed off my body as quickly as possible.  But getting up and doing an edgier song was never enough, I had to follow it up by raving to some of the great electronica of the late 90’s.  Oh yeah, when I booted up the Spice Girls tonight, my body involuntarily convulsed with all of that sugar going on.

It’s not easy being 40 and going down memory lane with these young people.  I want to keep my mind open, I really do, so I did my best to stuff all that sugar down my gullet without throwing up, but oh man, it was a rough one.

On their list of things they love from their childhoods I could understand, like No Doubt or Third Eye Blind.  Those I could get into, after all, who doesn’t love Gwen Stefani?  But things like Pogs, Arthur, The Magic School Bus, Rugrats, Doug and other things just flew over my head.  Sailor Moon?  Really?

I guess I’ve gotten old, or simply my love of all things “groovy” go over their heads just as much as Tamagotchi goes over mine.  When they said “Tamagotchi” in the focus group, I went “WTF’ie?”  Even after Wikipedia’ing it, to the shame of my technojunky background, I still don’t know WTF it is!  LOL

Yeah, their sense of nostalgia is completely different from mine and I’m doing my best to embrace it.  My fave though is my gal Lizzie who, when I asked for soundtrack cuts, gave The Spin Doctors and 4 Non-Blondes.  Bless you Lizzie.  Bless you.

But, I’ll cap this off with the commercial idea that sprang from my head after hearing Amanda wanting to buy a ticket to an *NSync reunion show…it’s my idea of a perfect Superbowl ad to kick of a campaign.  I’ll leave it to you to judge it.

Fade up:
A girl driving an orange *NSync themed Nissan Versa pulls up to a stoplight, girl bops to the sounds of the song “Bye Bye Bye” as the radio blares the song and out the rolled down car windows.
Another car pulls up, this time a black and blue Backstreet Boys themed Nissan Versa pulls up, the sounds of the song “Backstreet’s Back” come out of the speakers as the radio blares the song.
Each girl has a small photo of their boy band icon framed and attached to their sun visors.
Each girl lowers the visor, blows a kiss and says a line to the photo, disparaging the band supported by the other car.
An “imaginary” Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys appears in the passenger seat of the Black Versa, looks at the driver and says, “You’re not going to let her get away with that, are you?  Show her what it’s like to be a part of the Backstreets.”
An “imaginary” Justin Timberlake of *NSync appears in the passenger seat of the Orange Versa, looks at the driver and says, “C’mon baby girl, you can take her.  We’re *NSync, you and me.”
The “imaginary” passengers disappear as the two girls glare menacingly at each other, revving the engines of their cars, getting ready to drag race when the light turns green.
As the light turns green, before the girls can hit the gas, a Nissan Leaf goes flying by both of them with Britney Spears’ “Oops, I did it again” blaring out of the stereo.
Logo fades in:
Nissan. Innovation for You.  Innovation for All.
Fade to Black.

I don’t get to write that ad for competition because I’m not on the “creative” team.  Oh well, at least I get to write it for my Ad Copy-writing class.  Do you think an ad like that would go viral?  I’d say yes and I’m positive Amanda would hit “share” on Facebook in no time flat.

But that ad will never see the light of day besides to you nice folks.

My semester thus far can be summed up in a single word: Stymied.

Living with people who love online worlds…

For a long time, this has been a topic I’ve been dying to cover.  Yep, with the rise of so much technology around us, I’m almost positive we all know someone that is either hooked into World of Warcraft, Uru, Second Life or any of the rest of the Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOG’s) that are on the web.  We can’t forget to mention the millions of Facebookers who love nothing more than to sit and play Farmville or Mafia Wars, even down to Bejewelled.  One thing is certain, in one way or another, whether it is through a cell phone app or computer, we’re all plugged in to an online game.

Historically, all of this started with chat rooms and MUD’s (multi-user dungeons).  The thought of a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons players hovering around a monitor anxiously anticipating the results of the moves they had made via green or amber type reminds me of how I played football via text on my old Apple IIe in the same way.  Either way, it wasn’t the most fun you could have, so it’s no wonder technology has advanced to keep us interested in the games we’re playing.

I remember that my playtime on my Apple IIe was never very long.  Instead of the enduring the green type displayed on my monitor, I could go over to my small bedroom television, turn it on and play my Atari 2600 by the hour.  My favorite from back then?  Raiders of the Lost Ark for Atari, and oh, looking back at it, the graphics were bad.

 

It all started with bitmaps.

Another game I loved from back then was Pitfall.

Can you hear the Tarzan call sound effects?
But there were only so many vines you could swing from, backs of crocodile heads to jump on, scorpions to avoid, ladders to climb, and various other things to jump over.  It was the same screen over and over again.  After dying to a fire or falling into a tar pit for the fifteen-bajillionth time, I’d find myself bored again and switching cartridges to find something else to become bored with.  But that was the extent of home video game entertainment back in the 80’s and it was cutting edge at the time.  Cutting edge or not, it never held attention for very long.

Yep, it wasn’t easy back in the days of bitmaps to sit by the hour.  Yes, you could definitely spend hours doing it, but at one point or another you always shut it off because let’s face it, it wasn’t very immersive.  Back then, there was only so much you could do with a video game that only had a joystick or a paddle as it’s controller and eventually, you’d either beat it or become bored with it.  Finally, when we had amused ourselves enough, it would sit and collect dust while we found something more exciting to do.

Now, let’s fast forward to thirty years later.  Instead of the same screen over and over again, or descriptive type on the screen, we have something far more engrossing than what we once did.  Enter the online world.

Instead of this:

Atari 2600 Pac-Man
Ye grand old days of Pac-Man on the Atari 2600

We now have this:

or this:

Isn’t it funny how far we’ve come?

The point is, now, in video game culture, there are a multitude of immersive environments that give a sense of realism to what we are playing.  Yes, it’s all still pixels on a screen, but in comparison to the days of the old Atari 2600’s and ColecoVision consoles, even back to the archaic lines of text in a MUD, it’s something completely different.   It’s a whole new world and people are lining up by the millions to explore the plethora of new environments spawned from the imaginations of game designers.

Trust me when I say that when someone has grown up in a world where video games were only a quarter (25 cents) for three lives, the prospect of having unlimited lives or the inability to die at all, but if your avatar does die, the fact that you can resurrect and keep going has a pretty strong appeal.  The game never ends, it just keeps going and in turn it has allowed us to sit longer, become more engrossed and engaged in what we’re doing.  We’re not getting bored anymore doing the same thing over and over again because the days of those types of games are long gone.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not a console gamer.  Closest I come to a console video game is my Wii that I do my yoga with every day.  That’s the extent of my console gaming.  I tried playing games on my Wii, but, I became bored with it, much like I did with my Atari 2600 and my Apple IIe back in the 80’s.  No, the juice now is with my computer.  All seven hundred and fifty gigabytes of hard drive space, quad core processor, and six gigs of RAM that make everything I ask it to do run like silk, even though it’s now two years old.   When a computer runs as smooth as mine does, it’s comparable to sitting behind the wheel of a high performance sports car, enjoying the incredible power in your hands.  It makes the archaic text football game I played on my Apple IIe back in the 80’s look like I was playing with blocks.  Now my game time is spent in immersive worlds that have text on the screen yes, but it’s not telling me the action that is happening to my character, instead, it’s conversation between me and other players.

We’ve all heard of the proverbial sports widow, whether they are football, basketball, baseball, hockey, you name the sport, there have always been sports widows.  With the advent of online worlds, there is a whole new wave of widows coming to the forefront.  Yep that’s right, like watching a game on television, we’ve got a whole new set of folks who have no interest in online games and hence, they watch their spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or relative plug away by the hour leveling toons, solving puzzles and spending time adventuring with people in distant cities connected to them via the internet, much to their neglect and chagrin.

Now, as anyone will tell you, when you have a great toy, you’re not very likely to put it down.   With the advent of social worlds like WoW or Second Life, well, we’ve come upon a whole new set of widows that would rather see our computers go up in flames or see our subscriptions cancelled rather than hear another word about our gaming adventures.  They don’t care if we just hit 80 or downed the Lich King, they don’t care what new clothes we designed and put on to our avatars.  To them, if it all went away, they’d be happy, just like the football widow who breathes a sigh of relief when the season comes to an end.

However, what ever happened to showing interest in what your partner does?  Now, I’ll be the first to say I envy all of the couples who engage in their recreational activities together whether it be hiking, watching sports, going to the movies, playing video games or the list of things a couple can do together.  It’s always fun to see them enjoying themselves and sharing their adventures, increasing the enjoyment of their chosen activities because they do them as a couple.

Enter the diametrically opposed couples.  The one who loves to watch TV versus the one who wants to go hiking.  The recluse versus the socialite, the gamer versus the non-gamer.  In WoW, where I spend the most time, we have a phrase for the non-gaming spouse who loves nothing more than to repeat ad nauseum the fact they hate our chosen form of entertainment.  It’s called spousal aggro.  If you don’t know what aggro is…aggro comes from the word aggravate…get it?  It’s the flak we take from the non-gamers around us when they don’t understand what we’re doing and/or prefer that we didn’t do it, then interrupt us while we are in the middle of heavy in-game action.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that with online worlds, there comes a certain point where each and every one of us who play in them need to recognize the fact we have to put them down.  I’ll go the point that some people take their gaming far too seriously, to the point of addiction.  I remember seeing a video on You Tube of a child throwing a tantrum and destroying his bedroom after his mother cancelled his World of Warcraft subscription. Ok, that’s a bad thing.  If he was to the point he couldn’t survive without plugging in to his online world, he needed to stop.  He got too caught up.  He needed some time off the computer if his online world meant more to him than the real world.

A lot of the online world widows I know of don’t really understand why gamers play.  In fairly violent worlds such as World of Warcraft, it serves as a great stress reliever.  Think of it this way, some people, like my friend Jeff, work in call centers all day long; they get called rotten names, they’re blamed for things that aren’t their fault, day in and day out.  Instead of taking all of that negativity into themselves or lashing out at the people around them, they relax by killing a few monsters, achieving a personal best or vanquishing a bad guy made of pixels.  Personally, I think that’s a pretty constructive use for a video game.  It also gives a great ego boost as well when you’re praised for the good things you’ve done while in a team environment such as a dungeon or a raid.  Even when people are brought low by something as horrible as a death in the family, a relative getting cancer or in the midst of a divorce, that small amount of time, that you might believe is so huge, is really a comfort and distraction to them so they can better cope with the ills that life has dealt them.

However the most important fact above all is this: we all need to recognize the fact that online worlds, while they are an escape, are just there for their nutritional value as entertainment, they are not a substitute for real life and they most certainly shouldn’t be used to mask a more serious underlying problem. Life has to be dealt with, problems can’t be solved if you avoid them by using a video game as an excuse.

Most reasonable players I know, including myself, are evening gamers, ones who partake in their online world of choice only after all of their ‘real world’ commitments have been covered.  It’s the proverbial den, circa the turn of the 19th century, where men went to relax after dinner for brandy and cigars to share stories of bravado and to decompress from the rigors of society.  It’s a few hours in the evening where we blow off steam, play as a member of a team and enjoy the company of friends.

The conundrum that comes along with living with someone who likes to play in online worlds is that the players really get immersed.   However, there are some things you can do to learn to live better and happier with your family members who enjoy online worlds, giving you a more healthy and fun relationship.

For all of the online world widows out there, I’d like to suggest a few things.  Now before you tell me you’ve tried them all, let’s go through the list of how to get through to your online world engaged other half or relative:

  • Have you made an effort to understand the game or activity they are partaking in?

A lot of times, spousal aggro comes from the fact that the spouse of a gamer really doesn’t understand the game that’s being played.  Whether it is role playing, leveling, puzzle based or first person shooter, each game has a unique appeal that the gamer has come to identify with in some part of the experience.  A good thing to do in that case is to ask why they enjoy the game, what nutritional value they get out of it and find out if there is some sort of mutual point that you could engage them at so that they feel you are genuinely interested in what they are doing.

If the game they are playing holds no interest for you, that’s fine, but you really should take the time to really make an effort (and don’t go half way) to get to know why they’re playing.  Who knows, you may just like it once you understand it better.  Either way you go, you may find out something new about your spouse, partner or relative in the process.

 

  • Have you actually sat down and tried to play the game they are playing?

Take a moment and ask your gamer to let you sit behind the controls of their avatar.  Ask them to show you how to control the character’s movement; have them park you at a test dummy and let you cast some spells or use some abilities.  Feel what it’s like to press the buttons, do some damage and make things go boom. Give the game an honest chance and try to immerse yourself the way your gamer does.

If it’s not fun for you, fine, at least you can say you’ve tried.  But here’s the caveat:  there is a chance your gamer will backseat drive you while you’re driving their toon.  Be patient, they’ve spent hour upon hour perfecting their toon and their play technique.  Listen to them, but if they start driving you nuts, express some boundaries, after all, it’s a miracle you’ve gotten this far.  Allow them to understand how incredibly precious the moment is to you and how much you want to understand what they’re doing and how much you want to understand why the game is so special to them.

In online worlds like World of Warcraft, there is quite a bit of skill that goes into learning how to play the game well.  It’s timing, hand-eye coordination, it’s awareness of the people around you, it’s learning a strategy, and there is usually a lot going on when an end-game raid or player versus player situation happens.  There are lots of mistakes a player can make and it takes a lot of concentration and effort to do things just right.

What is uncommonly known to people who live with end-game raiders is that it is very easy to get into a situation that is frustrating or mentally taxing, especially when a player is learning a new fight.  Their eyes are watching timers, health bars, their spatial relationship to other players, their abilities bars (also known as cast bars), the aggro meter, the damage meter, the foe’s health bar, the foe’s abilities, dodging damage and all the while listening to and communicating with their fellow players.  Now ask yourself if it’s a really good time to give them grief when they’ve got all that on their plate already.

If you think it’s easy, try again.  This isn’t Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 back in 1983. Gaming these days takes more effort than it ever did because it’s even more complex.  It’s not meant to be easy.  If it were, 9 out of 10, we wouldn’t be playing it.  They’re most likely playing for the challenge.

  • Have you asked them questions about their avatars and the game they’re playing?

 Part of the draw of online games is how performance driven we all are in our every day lives.  Think about those who strive for promotions at their jobs, that live by strong ethical codes and so forth. Those folks are probably trying to do the same thing in their chosen online world.  Whether it’s solving a puzzle correctly or attaining that next level, reaching the current-end game content and beating the final boss, there is always some sort of neat new thing that they’ve gotten and are proud of receiving.  Ask them about their avatar.  What’s that weapon they’re carrying? Why do they have a staff instead of a sword?  Why did they choose that shirt over another? Why are they in a specific location? Why are they casting a particular spell or using a particular ability?

  • Be genuinely curious about what they are doing.

There are lots of neat questions you can ask your gamer if you take the time to understand why they play, the conditions of the world they’re playing in and the reasons that they do the things they do with their avatars.  What abilities do they have, what do they find as the coolest part of their avatar?

  • Who does your gamer hang around with in-world?

Another great part of being in online worlds is that they’re social.  Your gamer is spending time with folks who have similar interests and the same hobby.  Odds are, they’ve made a lot of friends, they have guildmates, they have people who reside in the same area in-game as they do.  Ask your gamer who they are.  It’s no harm or foul to be interested in their fellow players.  More than likely, they’ll have more than a few funny anecdotes to share with you.  

Find out more about who your gamer hangs out and plays with and why.  You might even make a new friend as well and get the nutritional value of meeting someone new who shares common interest with your beloved gamer.  It might just reveal something about your gamer that you didn’t know and can be a wonderful jumping off point for new and exciting conversations over dinner or times when they choose not to play.

  • Is it a role-playing world?

Believe it or not, some worlds such as Uru (U-R-U as in “You Are You”) are based around the tenet that the player is (outside of the avatars pixelated appearance) for all intents and purposes, the same person that you’d meet if you met them in real life.  In this aspect, the people, even though they are being represented as a pixelated character, are just as genuine as in the real world.  They represent their personality in the world they play in just as they do in the physical world. 

On the other hand, there are role-playing worlds (World of Warcraft has servers specifically set up just for that purpose), in which your gamer has come up with, through their own imagination, a character that behaves in a way that is completely different from their real lives.  It is a different play style altogether.

If you have a role-player, a great way to understand them is to ask them about their character.  What are their motivations for playing the character in the way they do?  What purpose does it serve in the larger picture and atmosphere of that world?  Odds are, if you didn’t know that your gamer is a role-player and find out that they are, there can be great conversations about their imaginations and their motivations for creating their characters.  How do you find out whether or not your gamer is a role-player?  Ask!  Just the simple question, “is that a role-playing world (or server)?” is a great way to find out.  If they seem bashful about it or if it sets them off, don’t be taken aback by it.  Some people don’t like to share those things, but if you reinforce that you’re only curious, and you’re accepting of the fact they do, odds are they’ll overwhelm you with details.  

  • Don’t push, approach gently.

If your gamer isn’t comfortable talking about their role-playing, don’t push too hard about it.  Ask if you can sit in and watch them play.  Overall, for anyone who lives with a gamer, it’s time well spent to sit and watch your gamer and be amazed by their skill and imagination.

  • It’s a two-way street.

    Ok, so now you’ve swallowed your hatred for online worlds and taken the time to show positive interest in your gamer and why they play.  You’ve even sat behind the controls and been mystified by how incredibly your gamer handles their avatar.  Now it’s time for the gamer to do the same for you.  As we’ve covered, spending time with your gamer can provide you new insight into who they are and it is only fair that they spend an equal amount of time with your interests as they do their game.  It shouldn’t be a tough sell.

 

  • Expect initial resistance

If you have a resistant gamer, you should take the time to find out what their in-game schedule is like and plan around it.  Yes, I know it seems to be too giving and structuring your life around the play time, but it really isn’t.  At first, your gamer might be a little hesitant to give up a raid night in lieu of a movie night, especially if it’s a new occurrence.  Give it time.  If you’ve already created a situation where you think they play too much, you need to sit down and talk with your gamer and come to an agreement on relationship priorities and how time should be allotted to give you both equal nutritional value from the situation.

If you both come to an agreement that will give you both equal play time, you’ll find life will be much easier.  Give them time to adjust to a new habit.  However, this does not mean that they can’t meet you half way.  If you allow a set amount of time for their gaming, they can allow a set amount of time for your activities too.  Don’t let them get away with not meeting you half way.  Relationships filled with nutritional value are also filled with a lot of give and take.  Be equal.  Don’t give too much and don’t take too much.   Most of all, don’t yell or scream when things don’t go exactly as planned.  Give them lots of reasons to turn off the computer and spend time with you.  It’s only fair that if you have made the effort to understand your gamer, they can do the same for you.

 

Online worlds are a hobby for most gamers.  They’re fun, they provide a positive outlet for aggression and they can be a great confidence builder.  The biggest thing I guess I can say about living with people who love online worlds is that simply, the real world has more to offer than the digitized one.  Hobbies are great, but so is going outside to throw a Frisbee or taking a trip somewhere with someone you love.

Online world widows, remember, if you take the time to show interest in your gamer’s world, you might find out something interesting.  Please don’t tell them that you don’t have time for what they’re interested in, that hurts, and it’s not exactly fair.  You may not be interested in their game, but you should at least make sure that they are aware that you are interested in them enough so that they’ve got a reason to turn off the game.

For all you gamers out there, make time for the real world.  Show interest in what the non-gaming folks in your life like to do.  If they take the time to understand you, the least you can do is try to understand them.  I know you wish for your flasks and buffs in every day life, but remember, you’ve already got them, they come from within.  All the magic you create in-game is nothing compared to the magic you bring by being around the people who love you in the real world.  Besides, too much time on the machine isn’t good for you.  Go outside!  Enjoy ALL the aspects of your life, not just your virtual one.

And if you don’t believe me, I’ve spent years as an end-game raider. Exactly at the same time I was killing the Lich King, my University GPA was a 3.73. Beat that.

UC protests

Every Sunday, I take a look at the news to get abreast of what’s happening in the world, and of course, to see if there is anything I can contribute to the Monday Evening discussion of law and schools for my Nevada School Law Course.

Tonight, I flipped on CNN.com to find that California has raised tuition to all of their public universities by 32%.

My question is:

How in hell are we supposed to get an education if we can’t afford it?

The UC protests are close to home.  It only takes 5 hours to drive from my apartment in Vegas to the campus of UCLA.  If the tuition increase stands in Cali, how are students in Nevada supposed to relax knowing that they just may be next?

What happens in Cali affects us.  When the Northridge Earthquake hit Los Angeles in 1994, we felt the tremors here in Vegas.  I remember being at a friends house when the apartment started to shake.  We turned on the news the next day to find whole sections of the 10 and 5 freeways laying in rubble on the ground.  The movies “Speed” and “Lethal Weapon 3” all had scenes in them that were missing sections of freeway because of the quake.  Almost overnight, the population of Las Vegas went from 620,000 to over 1.2 million.  The city doubled in size because of the quake.  Now tell me that what happens in Cali doesn’t affect Nevada.

UCLA, UC Berkley, etc, they all have tremendous reputations for turning out some of the finest students.  Are they now just reserved for the rich elite that can afford exorbitant tuition fees because of the depth of their parents pocketbooks? 

Now with the rising tuition costs, who says that Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, the man who loves to gut and cut education in Nevada every chance he can get, won’t do the same?

It’s bad enough that the public education system in Nevada ranks 48th in the nation.  Let’s add a whole new list of problems that will arise from students leaving California schools to go to universities like UNR (Reno) and UNLV so that they can stay close to home, IF they can even afford tuition here at all with the out-of-state tuition fees.  What about Oregon and Arizona as well?  Arizona is the only state who is WORSE than Nevada on the national list for the standard of education, but with rising costs, where else are these students going to go?

What’s worse is how it will affect campuses like UNLV.  Undoubtedly, we will see an increase in enrollment, an increased demand for campus housing and other services provided by the UNLV.  How are we supposed to hold the influx of students that will come from this latest case of bureaucratic idiocy? It’s bad enough we have highway congestion that has resulted from Californians moving 5 hours up the road to Vegas, taking highways that were built for 620,000 that now have to service 2 million.  What about water?  Vegas is in the desert.  It’s bad enough that we have idiots running the Las Vegas Valley Water District, but worst of it all is that we have no rights to the water that runs down the Colorado River.  California took it all, doling out small portions to neighboring states in quantities that we can no longer survive on.  Ranch lands in Northern Nevada are being purchased wholesale, because of the water that lies beneath them, by people who have not a single solitary clue how to run a ranch or know diddly squat about cattle, yet California takes our water, then expects us to house, water and feed their residents because of the deterioration of their state.

It’s not Nevada’s fault that California can’t take care of itself.  Cali only has some of the richest people in the world living there, but they can’t cough up and help out their state?  How self-absorbed and pathetic. 

You know, it appalls me to no end that the U.S. Government wants us to stay on the cutting edge of technology and have the finest minds in the world, but the states forbid us from the education we seek and desire because of their own problems or greed.  It’s not the students fault that California is in a financial bind, so why should THEY have to pay for it?  Those students are trying to obtain an education that will allow them to get out into the workforce to make sure California doesn’t go under, but they can’t do that with rising tuition costs that make it impossible to go to school.

You know, it’s disgusting to think about education in America.  In Nevada, teachers start at $36,000 a year, and with the costs associated with living in Las Vegas, it is impossible to make ends meet on that kind of money.  We, as teachers, affect the world when we teach our students, we’re giving them the tools to succeed and be successful in life, but we are paid close to nothing to do a job that innately ensures the survival of our species.

In the end, this latest round of idiotic behavior by bureaucrats who have no earthly idea what it’s like to live in the real world, are going to end up screwing us ALL once again.  How sad. 

Keep protesting UC students!  I’m with you 100%!  Do NOT let them up your tuition!