IMBSquared / Member

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IMBSquared Blog

Videogame Violence

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It's been a loooooooong time since I've posted anything here, but I'm happy to report I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I am, however, crawling ever closer to the degree I sought for more than 10 years ago. I've taken at least one cla$$ each semester (including the summer sessions) and I have about 2or 2-and-a-half years to go at my current rate. At the moment, I'm writing a paper for a cla$$ on Communication Ethics, and I've been posed with an interesting topic: Videogame Violence. I've been charged with exploring the subject from both sides and carefully outlining a neutral, fact-based argument in favor of, and against censoring said violence, and why. Then I would need to pose my own conclusion on the effects of this violence on the public-at-large.

The reason I'm posting all this here is because... well... It's GAMEspot. The best place to acquire opinions on this topic is at one of the common gathering spots for gamers. My project has some rather broad margins from which to gather data and literature on the topic, and I thought it would be interesting to include some actual user opinions in my analysis. I KNOW most of everyone here has a rather passionate feeling on either side of this common debate and I'd love to hear about it. Even if your professional opinion on videogame violence is simply"violence is teh roxorz" or other equally un-substantiated drivel, I want to hear it. I haven't decided how I will include any statements I gather here, but be advised, I might be compelled to submit where the statements came from: i.e. handles and screennames. If you wish to keep your names anonymous, please include that with your statement and I'll gladly leave your name blank in my report.

Now, it's just a dumb little paper being turned in to a local professor at a small university for a painfully ridiculous little summer class, so it's not like anything I collect here will end up in the hot-sheets or on 60 Minutes. However, itwill, for all essential purposes, be technically "published," so keep that in mind. Anyone willing to help me out will be greatly appreciated and the more opinions I collect here will make my report more interesting, so if you like, take a minute and shout out your feelings on this matter... for science!

Couple Days Off

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Wow! It's been a loooong while since I posted anything here. Video games, among other things, took a back seat to work and cla$$ for the past few months. I've still been hammering away at school to throw my best efforts at turning my career path around. The rest of the time has been spent at work, and work really takes away most of my creative will, so writing outside of cla$$ just seems like a chore. However, with the weeks surrounding the holidays, I've managed to take some time off and unwind. I'm ready to approach the new year with a fresh perspective and take a new approach toward things. I also managed to acquire a PS3 with all the overtime money I've earned, so now I've finally managed to join in with the next-gen-console gamers. That said, now that I have this new toy, and ample time-off to use it and catch up with other things... I can definitely say that life is good these days.

Right now, I'm at work getting ready to finish up my work week and head home for some more R&R. Afterwards, I can sit on my ass, relax, and be a total waste of life with no remorse, while dispensing death to total strangers on the PlayStation Network. I suppose that's my favorite feature of my PS3 so far. Most of my friends are at work during the day or moved to areas far-far away. Now, no matter what time it is, or wherever my friends are, I can obliterate them through my shiny, black, oddly-shaped little internet appliance! I love it!!! Now all I need are some more "PS3 Friends". Unfortunately, PS3 is rather cost-prohibitive and never really caught on as I hoped it would. I do hope that any PS3-enabled readers that browse through this post or peruse through my profile will think to add me to their friends list. I know I've been a lousy GS member and my friends list and profile has been horribly neglected, but like I said, a new year should yield a new perspective, right?

Anyway, I have to wrap this up, but send me some news to get me abreast of how everyone's doing nowadays, and tell me some holiday details.

-B² out

Insomnianity

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So it's been a while since I was last on here, but I figured I'd share something for a quick moment between work and cla$$. I had mentioned to a friend that I had trouble sleeping the other day. Naturally, he said it's because it was the other day and not the other night. Anyway, I told him that I went to bed as usual, got the room nice and dark... and stared at the ceiling for 8 hours. I felt nothing. I didn't even get drowsy in the least. The next theory my friend proposed was that I couldn't "switch off". I asked what he meant, but he just said that my "ADD brain is always all over the place and makes it hard for me to settle down". I kind of left it at that and shrugged it off because... well... he's right. The creeping on of middle age hasn't really slowed down my crazy brain very much. The next day, THIS appeared in my e-mail and I got a humungous laugh. Never has my head been portrayed so accurately!

-B²

Inspiration from Subjugation

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It's funny how inspiration can come from unlikely sources. It's equally interesting how true it is that one really does need to suffer to write. I had intended to start a whole series of blogs about my adventures in gaming and write my observations and comments about my findings. However, I never really saw myself being so busy in the past month.

The school had their graduation commencement a month ago, and the entire time before that day was hellish. (I have stories for later) To top that, my partner and best friend, "Lt. Tom", tendered his resignation on graduation day to end almost 9 years of service and 4 years of friendship, after deciding that he'd "had enough of this job". It sounds rather drastic, but I understood some time ago that his potential had already been capped at his last promotion. With no opportunity for any further advancement at the school, and the current state of things in our department, I can't blame him for leaving. The biggest shame is that his new job has him working daytime hours, so I'll probably rarely see him again, especially if he moves to Arizona later on, as he always planned.

With most of my friends gone from the department, work will be more unbearable than ever, and although promotion opportunities will arise from this development, I'm less than optimistic about my chances of moving upward anytime soon. The politics within the department and the entire University are taking an ugly turn, and I'm not very confident about where things are heading, or where I fit into their goals. I'm quite aware that most of the staff has realized that I don't really belong there, and although I'm quite capable at my job, it's no secret that there are things I'm much better suited for than what I do now.

With that in mind, I've re-enrolled into the school as a student, and have registered for classes in journalism and communications to explore my own potential and refine my writing style into something more professionally recognized. Having said that, if there are any of you wondering where I disappeared to, you have your answer. It's been quite a while since I last had homework, and... well... I don't remember ever being so... busy.

I used to breeze through assignments, but for this first semester, I'm taking a theater class, so I'm doing a lot more reading than writing. The class really doesn't interest me at all, either. The only reason I'm taking it is to fill up all my pre-requisites so I can get to the good stuff later on. If I can make it through the mindless drivel that the admissions department has required for my degree, the rest should be easy. Kind of like stuffing your face with Brussels sprouts so you can get to your dessert. For now, I've got a big mouthful of sprouts, so I'll be cranky and unavailable for the next few months.

With all this going on, I've been rather jaded and cynical in general, so I haven't felt much like writing for my assignments, let alone writing about myself. However, with most of my current assignments complete, and a free moment at work, a chance to put all this to writing is very therapeutic. Lately my head's been "all full of thinkin'" about if all this work will actually bear some results or if it'll all pan out to nothing again. My current career path is rather risky, considering I know very little about the publishing business, and even less about writing professionally. All I know is I like cars, I like video games, and I like to write. I'm just hoping the rest of the answers will fall into place as I go on with classes and I hope even more that I meet some people that cal help me get involved. Kevin Smith grew up near my hometown (Clerks and Clerks II were filmed down the street from my high school) and I can only imagine his battle to climb upward was just as brutal as mine. If he can do it...

Anyway, this whole blog didn't really have a point to begin with, and now it's just turning into a whole mess of untrained and incomplete thoughts. It's about time for me to get to work, anyway. I hope you enjoyed reading, and I hope to have more to post here later on, but for now, my professor will have to be my primary audience. Anyone who has any particular topics for me, should absolutely feel free to drop me a line. Otherwise, I'll post again after my final exam.

-B² out

Un-toons

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...so I was putzing around online, and I came across this little gem of a picture of Homer Simpson (don't ask me how). To my surprise, there's a bunch of these "un-toons" on a blogspot by some very talented Photoshop genius by the name of Pixeloo.

D-oh!

That's all from me for now. I just thought I'd share something hilarious... and morbidly fascinating. My next blog should be posted tomorrow. Right now, I'm off to bed. Oyasuminasai! ^_^

-B² out

What is This Thing Called Internet? - Part 1

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I suppose that because I'm usually a year or two behind in owning current technology, some pretty ordinary stuff continues to fascinate me. The concept of "internet", for example... The internet has been around since just before I was born. There's nothing new about it, but yet, it still continues to amaze me. Not only because of the kinds of data that can be transmitted, but how it can be transmitted fascinates me most. I remember when modems had a little box that you'd put your phone receiver on top of, to get a connection. (Ever see WarGames?) Then they gradually matured to plugging directly into the line and then they even began to build them into the computer itself. After that, then things started to take off with broadband.

The possibilities expanded to a point where now almost anything we can think of that exists in data can be transmitted near instantly. Wires don't even limit us anymore. I download my email and chat with friends through WiFi on my PDA everyday. iPhones and other internet appliances are constantly breaking boundaries that we previously thought couldn't be done. The idea of price-busting a car salesman while you're on the lot is not only satisfying, but it's absolutely awesome! Your average dude off the street would never even imagine trying that 3-5 years ago, because that technology was hugely expensive and hadn't fully matured and optimized for handheld devices yet.

The Jornada 540 PPCI bought my first Pocket PC when I was 20. Pocket PCs had just come out on the common market in 2000, Windows CE was starting to resemble a decent-looking OS, and the HP Jornada had evolved from a Palmtop PC to the first Pocket PC that was half its size. I had to have one! I was working at a Sears while I was in college and I was making some relatively decent money when compared to my expenses. The thing was about $500... I had just been paid... so I grabbed one... and starved for the week. It really couldn't be considered a laptop alternative yet because it didn't do a whole lot besides manage MS Office applications. I could update contacts and appointments, write Word documents, listen to some mp3s and rudimentary videos, and that's it.

Then, when some decent upgrades emerged a few years later, I sold it and got another Jornada... one that could accept a WiFi attachment. Now the world was getting smaller! I could stream videos, download emails, view certain websites online and even chat on AIM. It still needed work, though. Most common websites hadn't been optimized for that tiny screen, so they took forever to download, just to realize that you couldn't read them because the text was either to miniscule to read, or too huge to fit on the screen. Now, I have one of the last generations of the Dell Axim. It cost me half the price of my first Jornada, it does nearly anything a basic laptop can do (with the right software), and it fits in my pocket. I can view just about anything on the internet from anywhere with a WiFi connection, and it all looks amazing.

I've had the thing for about 3 years now, and I still look at it from time to time like it's a device some time-traveler left behind from the future.

When I got my first handheld, I had images of seeing something like it about 20 years in the future, in the hands of just about every grade-schooler in the US. No more bookbags! Everything you would need would be in the flash-memory of that little device... except your lunch. Think about it... about 98% of the stuff that goes in your bookbag in school is books, notebooks, calculators and writing utensils. All of that stuff can go in a PDA that fits in your pocket, plus the ability to look up whatever you need online! I suppose that's why I bought my PDA. I took all of my notes in c.lass on it, thinking I would start some revolutionary motive for everyone to go buy one as well, and therefore make my image of the future, a reality. ...Well, it didn't happen. ...At least, not right away...

Yeah... you're a naughty girl, aren't you?Now, I've recently read about a bit of a breakthrough HP is making with the first generation of "kid's" laptops designed to take the place of that Apple IIe that's sitting in the back of most of the c.lassrooms in my hometown right now. It's mostly designed to do word processing and internet viewing, but it's still a full-functioned laptop that's about half the size of average, with an MSRP of $499! Not a bad step in the right direction. Considering how miserable my out-of-school experience has been, I've been a pretty big advocate of education, and I really hope that one of these little laptops, or something like it, is on every desk in every c.lassroom in the near future.

I wonder... with all the germs and colds kids give to each other... how will these laptops hold up being connected to each other?

Digital notes being passed back-and-forth... hard drives eating homework... viruses being thrown like spitballs...

Teacher? Billy broke the internet! ...No ...he really did ...the whole thing...

*sigh*

Next week - Part 2: What is this Thing Called Online Gaming?

-B² out

A Dangerous Game

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It's funny how intentions can lead to nothing. Like how I "intended" to keep my blog page full of fresh posts? Yeah... my page could probably be likened to the bottom shelf of Jack Black's fridge: littered with rancid, unidentifiable substances that were once edible at some point about 3 months ago. Well, now that the winter is finally over, and my apathy that typically follows it has passed, I can finally go on with a clear head, and actually commit some thoughts to written word.

First of all, I must say that 2008 has really been a horrible year so far. Apparently the powers-that-be that wrote up Murphy's Law decided to throw the book at me sometime at about... oh... say... 12:01AM on January 1st and things have been all downhill from there. I was actually at a New Year's party that night, which went sour for reasons I will not discuss due to privacy for those involved, but I should have heeded the proceedings of that night as an omen for the days after. Needless to say that the day-to-day shuffle through life has been spotted with expensive mistakes, personal defeats, needless confrontations, and inconsiderate strangers.

Now at this point, I'd like to make it clear that this whole rant that I'm about to enter isn't just to #$@%& and vent at unsuspecting readers here. I guess, now that the worst of what's happened is over, it seems a lot funnier to me, so this is a way to step outside of myself and look at it among the rest of you.

The most recent (and prominent) issue of the year (so far) was a speeding ticket that I earned a little more than a month ago. Anyone that knows me (and quite a few that don't) is only too aware that I love to drive. I derive no greater pleasure from anything in this world besides being behind the wheel. ...Anything except driving that wheel like I was fired from an RPG! If I'm touching the ground, I'm going too slow. ...That is, until last month.

On the day of my infraction, I had worked the midnight shift (as usual) and I was scheduled to work overtime that afternoon at 1600 hours (4:00PM to the lay person). Unfortunately, that left me with about 5 hours of actual sleep between shifts if you account for changing in/out of uniform, travel time, feeding time, etc. On top of this, in this 5 hour span, I had to run an important business errand to a friend at the last minute. Therefore, I must've figured this was absolutely no problem, since I decided to ignore my alarm clock, and inadvertently maximize my sleep time to about 5½ hours. I leapt out of bed, ran to my car, and rocketed down the highway like a metallic blue missile to the above-mentioned friend before work.

Now, I know what you're thinking. I must've had this coming. Rockets aren't street-legal! However, even I have my limits. The little gnome in the back of my brain usually kicks me in the cerebellum and says, "HEY! Yer goin' too damn fast!" Well, that gnome was still fast asleep, and all that was left was my inner-self chanting, "...you have 17 minutes to get to work! ...you have 16 minutes to get to work! ..."

So, there I am, quickly approaching mach 2, the guy in front of me is only doing about mach 1, and I then decide to do the only sensible thing: pass him. I kick it to the throttle and I get to about mach 3, when I feel a great disturbance in the Force. The feeling as if 3 pairs of eyes in uniform had just spotted me, and knew that they'd be getting that promotion this year after all.

It was then that I was pulled over by a pack of state troopers (honestly, since when did the cops decide to roll 3 deep around here?) and their "leader" sauntered up to my window. I sunk into my seat as I passed him my credentials. Then, I'm asked a question that would decide the whole outcome of this incident. "Do you know why I stopped you?"

Of course I did. I could almost see the flames still searing into the tarmac.

I grumbled out, "I was going a little fast, wasn't I?" The cop was still examining my paperwork out of view of my window, so a shiny belt buckle replied, "how fast do ya think ya were goin'?"

Now, I knew I was doing some decent flying down that road, but I actually had no idea how fast I was really going. I was paying more attention to how slow the other cars were going. The best reply I could manage was my typical cruising speed.

"I guess about 80... maybe 85?"

The cop laughed, "You really think so? Try again."

I guess it was a rhetorical question because before I could embarrass myself further and take another guess, he answered for me.

"Try '95' buddy." My mind raced.

"95!? How could I be doing 95!? That's 7mph over time-travelling speed! If I were in a DeLorean, I'd be back to the future and home again by now! Oh, wait... he's still watching me. Say something!"

By the time I could respond, he was already heading back to his car with my documents. It's just as well, since I had no particularly intelligent response to offer, anyway. However, it still wasn't looking good for me. If you don't have your license back in your hand in the first 5 minutes, you're done for.

The actual time he spent in his car, writing, was probably only about 10-15 minutes. For someone with no points on his license, a clean driving record, low insurance rates, and a tight budget... this felt like eternity. I couldn't afford fines and my wife would be none too happy about sharing inflated insurance premiums when her record was spotless.

I'm not a particularly religious person. I could use one hand to count how many times I've been to church in the past year. However, like most closet Christians, guess who I turn to for help when the chips are down...

"G-d? I know you're up there. Listen, I've got a little favor to ask..."

I suppose He really does have a sense of humor, because I could almost see Him sitting up on His cloud, glaring, as the cop strolled back to my car with tickets in hand. (yes, that's plural)

A voice echoed in my head. "Yeah! You're on your own, buddy! Do for me no favors, and you shall receive none!" ...or something like that.

I got 2 tickets. One was for speeding 30mph over the posted limit (let it be noted that I was in a 65mph zone and fines are doubled for that in NJ!) and one for "obstructed view". That last one was particularly stupid, because the only thing "obstructing" my view was a tassel that was approximately an inch wide and 5 inches long, that was hanging from my rearview mirror.

If a vehicle exists that is 1 inch wide and 5 inches long, I'd like to see it. (No comments from those of you with your head in the gutter. There could be children reading) :D

Anyway... to put an end to this tirade I've embarked on, the conclusion of all this was that the speeding ticket was actually quite serious. It carries 5 points and a $500-something fine plus a possible loss of license for 30 days (which all could be doubled, by the way). I had to get myself a lawyer and do some considerable nail-biting for a month before the court date. The end result was a plea for reduced charges, which included a $200 fine and 2 points. I got off pretty easy, considering what the charges could have been.

In closing, the moral of this story is: Speeding is expensive. You can either spend a load of money on lawyers and fines, or buy yourself a badass radar detector and/or scanner. Either way, it's an expensive hobby. Too bad it's so much fun...

-B² out

Mobile Gear: Portable Ops

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Brace yourselves. My entry for today actually has a particular topic for once!

Not exactly pocket-sizedFor some time now, I've been noticing a new trend in modern gaming. Throughout history, it's a common fact that as new technology arises, not only do new gadgets appear, but existing ones get smaller. When mobile phones first appeared almost 30 years ago, they came in a suitcase. Now, I don't mean they came with a suitcase that had a phone in it... the suitcase WAS the phone (for those of you born post-1989). Now, not only do we have phones the size of a pebble, but they have cameras and mp3 players and all kinds of cool junk in 'em. Not only that, but everybody has one! I dare you to find a Starbucks without some vacuous socialite on their phone flapping their jaw, taking horrible pictures of themselves in moronic poses to post on MySpace for posterity. My point is that alongside the advent of new technology, comes some unexpected changes to social culture as well.

The handheld legend that started it allWith this in mind, think about some of the first game consoles. The first Nintendo was huge. All of the Ataris were monsters, Sega was about the same, and Commodore 64 was even bigger than that. It you wanted to get your game on at a friend's house or on a road trip, you had to lug your behemoth of choice with you. Oh, and don't forget a TV to play it on and an outlet to plug it into. Then came the first portables... Game Boy, Game Gear, Lynx, etc... They changed everything. Now all we kiddies could get our fix away from home! 12 hours of Tetris wasn't enough? Well, now you could take it with you! Recess no longer meant kickball or tag... you had a mass of loyal gamers sitting amongst nature with their Game Boys in hand, plugged into a virtual, pixilated, monochromatic world that was apparently vastly more interesting (What was I thinking!?) However like the first phones, these portable consoles had their limits. They were still fairly bulky, usually demanded a sizeable repertoire of accessories, devoured batteries like it was their job, and came with a pretty high price tag to top it off. The result was that you would see them in public from time to time, but only when its owner was tethered to one place for awhile. It wasn't practical to carry around everywhere. ...Until now...

Anyway, enough with the history. I have a story to tell.

So, I was at my friend's engagement party a week or so ago... yeah, I know... "aww, cute..." ...Whatever. Anyway, I'm there at a restaurant, surrounded by the friends and family of both the bride and groom to be, and at one of the tables in a corner of the room, was a bunch of kids of various ages and genders. In itself, this isn't unusual, but this gathering was not just a random get-together of kids in an adult setting. These kids were organized. All of them had their DS and PSP systems firmly in hand and had set up a little network gaming party... right in this secluded corner of a restaurant! At that point, I realized 2 things: First, I wondered what they were playing over there, since I naturally had my own PSP in the car... and second, I realized that the process of making friends and interacting with others has completely evolved, which is the point of my whole topic here.

Is this you?

Kids and adults alike are at the point where strangers with nothing more in common than having the same game in their pocket, can now play against each other and form an unlikely bond that used to only exist in chess clubs and pool halls. The only difference now, is that this bond is no longer limited by proximity. Thanks to readily available WiFi, a 6 player game can take place outside with players that may or may not even be anywhere near each other. You and a friend could be sitting at an internet café, playing against each other along with 4 others at another café across the country. Even more amazing is the dexterity some gamers have developed with various mobile appliances. A friend of mine witnessed an ambidextrous gamer on a train with his mobile phone in one hand, and his DS in the other, happily looking up cheat codes as he was playing his game.

Love knows no bounds. Now... love and gaming know no bounds.

Games without borders.

Hell, even this blog is being written on a WiFi-connected PPC the size of a scientific calculator. How great is it to bang out some literature while standing around at work, waiting for orders?

The next PSP?

I predict that home consoles and desktop computers may even see a decline in the future. How many people do you know these days that still have home phones? Many households have cut the cords and just assign mobile phones to everyone in the family, since the family plans on most carriers end up cheaper and easier than landline plans now. Most anyone in the US is now issued a name and number at birth. "My name is 987-654-3210... call me." Using that logic, is it so hard to foresee that mobile consoles may eventually have the same graphics and capabilities as some decent home consoles, and therefore become more popular? The PSP for example, has similar graphics to the PS2. It's not quite the same, but pretty close. I barely use my PS2 now. I'm always out and about, so my PSP barely gets a rest and my PS2 barely sees action. There'll probably be a PSP2 with PS3-like graphics and motion-sensing and stuff like that in the next few years, and it will likely further blur the lines between home gaming and mobile gaming. Computers have already gone that route with laptops. Most college freshmen at cla$$ have on their person:

•1. Their books

•2. Their mobile (set to ring anytime the room goes quiet)

•3. Their laptop

Only those with the most particular needs end up with a desktop these days. Most laptops are just as powerful and loads more convenient than their stationary counterparts.

Ahhhhhh... nature

I'll close this whole exploration with my newest brain-child, which is an idea for the next mobile Nintendo console. I'd claim exclusive copyrights to its name if I were sure I was the only one who thought of it. Get ready for it. ...ready... ...here goes: ... "PiiWii" Clever? Yeah, I thought so too. Anyway, if this idea were to actually see reality, this little gadget would probably resemble a hybrid of the Wii and DS, and have a Nunchuk attachment of sorts. I haven't hashed out any other details. I just liked the name. Regardless, I'll likely own it... whatever it is. I'll be first in line for a PSP2 as well. Meanwhile, my home entertainment center will likely continue to collect more dust. (I miss my couch)

-B² out

In My Head

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It's funny to look back on something you've written a while ago and ponder on what you were up to at the time. The longer the while, the funnier it is. I'm not quite sure how I ended up abandoning my blog for over 4 months now, but frankly, I've had nothing I felt like writing about. Random encounters, daily grind, and mostly work-related headaches that only myself and close friends & relatives would find interesting at all. With that said, the rest of this passage is really for the benefit of my own memory and of anyone who feels like taking this trip with me. Therefore, I might as well begin with the more recent note-worthy events and work my way to the back of the stuff in my head:

First of all, 2 years of hard work have finally seen results and I recently received the rank of sho-dan (first-degree black belt) in Shotokan Karate, along with my wife. Naturally, I'm über-excited to have finally made it, but at the same time, I'm also reminded that it's still just the beginning. My other mentors in the dojo refer to it as the "learner's permit" to start the real training. Unfortunately, my first act as a new black belt in the class was to receive a stress fracture in my foot from repeated kicking and stomping, followed by a recent barefoot mile-run as part of our annual "Winter Training".

Winter Training is a 38 year-old tradition at the dojo where everyone gathers at 5 AM for a week of basic training, sparring and katas, followed by a 1 mile jog around Trenton in nothing but our standard uniform or ki and our bare feet. Now, one would think that this is some horrid ordeal, but it really wasn't that bad since everyone is still all hot from training. However, after about 5 minutes of January finally catches up to your feet, they eventually go numb, which causes other problems. My problem was that Trenton isn't the kind of place one would jog barefoot in the summer, let alone in winter. Debris can definitely put a big kind of hurt on bare skin. My doctor's theory is that I probably stepped on something nice and hard, but I couldn't feel it through the dead appendages that were my feet at the time. For this, I have been condemned to wear a weird-looking sandal-type-thing on my foot at work for a week, and I can't go back to Karate until it comes off. Worse things could happen.

Work has been generally unpleasant since the school year began and the hours have been taking their toll, so naturally I delighted in taking up some of my vacation time over the holidays to spend time with the wife and my friends. Christmas was nice and quiet. Most of our gifts had been gradually exchanged throughout the month, since neither Diana or I are very good at containing ourselves. We're adults now... why wait if we don't want to?

My PS2 has seen a lot more attention in recent months due to the above mentioned work-ethic. I've finally revisited a bunch of games I've been meaning to conquer, while poking around with some new ones I acquired from my Christmas loot. One game that's been keeping me particularly busy is GTA: San Andreas. I've been meaning to add it to my collection for the longest time, and now I know why: It's HUGE! I could quit my job and make this game my new career. There's so much to do, it's rather not unreal, but REAL. The graphics are the best in the series (for now), and you can do everything from visiting a bar, to workouts in the gym, to clothes shopping, etc... If that's not enough, you can still occupy your time with the usual gauntlet of random missions, or get busy robbing people, or simply go on a wanton killing spree... because, well... who wouldn't? My favorite experience was playing pool with some guy in a bar and betting on each game. I spent about an hour draining this random dude of all his cash, and then in Vegas fashion, I bet it all on one last game and (of course) handed it all back over in a hurry. Naturally, I was not particularly satisfied with this outcome, so I pulled out a flame-thrower (from my back pocket I suppose) and greased the guy with 3rd degree burns until he refunded my money. Yeah, "seh hello to mah little fren'!"

Anyway, on to bigger news... I received an e-mail a few days ago from a nice lady on behalf of the Primedia Publishing Company. Apparently, I had written a response to an article I read in Motor Trend some time ago that I had almost forgotten about, asking about the particulars in becoming a professional driver (i.e. race cars, rally-cross, stunt driving, etc.) Well, it had finally reached the eyes of someone who took an interest, and apparently, it will be featured in the February issue of Motor Trend! The best part is that I even get a prize for this article: a Garmin Nüvi GPS navigator. Now, I wasn't expecting any of this. I was just curious and looking for an answer, which is ironically the one thing I haven't received yet, but we'll see. I guess the moral to this story is: Ask questions. Your answer may come with presents!

Unfortunately, I don't really have any workplace stories for anyone this time. Work has been fairly boring lately and I can't really recall any good scuffles that stand out in my mind. I'll have to look through my incident report archives and pull out something good for my next entry, which won't have to wait another 5 months this time... I hope. Until then, I look forward to reading comments and I'll try to wander around the blogs and forums more often over the next couple of weeks. Welcome back, me!

-B² out

The Pursuit of Happyness

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Waugh! September has truly been a hellish month for he who has been named after an algebra component. I've spent enough time at work in the past month that my locker looks more like my apartment pantry with all the instant noodles, toothpaste and other personal junk in there. Thankfully, that's all behind me, I'm back to living at home again, and I've granted myself a 5-day weekend to do... nothing. Absolutely... nothing.

Actually, "nothing" wasn't half as appealing as "anything", so I spent most of my time doing just that. I spent some time with a friend of mine who lives near Philly, hung out with my Dad for a night, and today, I'm catching up on e-mails, my internet fix, my blog (obviously) and some quality time with my neglected love... the PS2. Oh, and Diana and I shall go out to dinner later as well. J While I'm near the subject of PS2, I do have a public announcement to make:

For all of you who use consoles with removable memory, I cannot make this message urgent enough: Don't forget to back-up your game saves!

There is nothing on this earth that is more frustrating than sinking 30+ hours of your life into a game that, although enjoyable, has a very persistent "Start A New Game" option on its intro screen... and then haphazardly overwriting all your hard work in a careless instant. ...I wouldn't know of such tales of reckless abandon... *ahem* ... but I imagine it could drive someone to embed their PSP into the nearest drywall surface. It was actually kind of neat how it stuck in there... uhhh... I mean... theoretically.

Anyway, if you made it this far into the passage, you might wonder, just what have I been doing since my last entry? Well, above all, I've been working roughly 80-hour weeks since move-in day to cover our lack of personnel. After all, it sucks when 4-5 people have to share the workload of 7-8. Fortunately, we've acquired some sharp, young recruits to carry that weight, and it looks like we might actually operate like a full team this year. We were just in time to intercept a bomb threat that some fool decided to e-mail to a bunch of universities on 9/11 too. Naturally I got called in on my day off to help restrict access to campus. I wanted to cut out someone's pancreas that day. Oh yeah... that hurts. I've written my share of incident reports in the last week as well. Mostly general college nonsense: underage drinking, simple assault, narcotics, vandalism, etc. I don't even have any particularly entertaining stories because none of us have really been in the mood for dealing with anything elaborate. We just want the problem done with so we can get on with the next one.

At any rate, I've still managed to further some personal interests in my infrequent downtime. I had made a mediocre sketch of Diana that I wasn't really happy with, but it didn't warrant starting all over again, so I imported it to Photoshop and I've been working on it from time-to-time when I can, and I'm actually pretty happy with the results. The hair on her left shoulder belongs behind it, but I'm working on it. Still, my favorite part is the lips. I actually borrowed them from Kim-Possible and I really like how it turned out. She's not particular to grinning, so the demure little smile fit her well. One item I need to acquire next is a Wacom pad, though.

However, since I can't afford that, I bought myself the Hitman trilogy because... well, why not? I felt the need to fulfill my predatory instincts, and since Solid Snake's newest saga isn't quite ripe yet, I decided that I should know the story of Agent 47 instead. I'm overall really impressed. I'll probably write a review on them once I'm done murdering hapless innocents over the next day or two. I just have to get used to the controls because I've played entirely too much Metal Gear and my strategy doesn't apply very well, since the bad guys in Hitman are unfamiliarly suspicious. I'm used to sticking people up or sinking a dart in their neck and dragging them to a bush or an open locker. Not these guys. Nope, they start shooting before you even know what happened. Not that a bald dude with a UPC on his head is hard to spot, but that could be anyone. There was this one time I was assaulted buy the shelf-stocker at PathMark...

My last bit of personal news is I'm supposedly going to test for my black-belt sometime "soon" and get myself all registered with the JKA and ISKF. I started taking Karate as a method to get in shape and learn how to handle myself in the inevitable Thursday-night fights we break-up at work. Over the past year, though, I've come to understand the art-form aspect of Karate as well as the almost religious experience of it. It's no exaggeration to say that it really does become a way of life if you choose to accept it. It really does build confidence and morality. I'm very excited to take it to the next level. I'm just not sure what to expect. All the kung-fu movie myths are all wrong and being at the dojo isn't what everyone thinks, so I'm trying to empty my head of all the Karate Kid ideals I had before. I've heard that a lot of people train in Japan after they've received their 2nd, or 3rd Dan, and that's a HUGE thing for me. I've always wanted to see Japan and that'll be a major experience for me. The only possible superlative is to meet Megumi Hayashibara and the Boom Boom Satellites and Japan could be my final resting ground.

Anyway, I'm using up valuable Hitman time and I could even be recovering my lost Test Drive profile. ...I mean... if I were to lose it... Oh whatever!

-B² out

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