Violence in Video Games

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Nothing much else involving gaming makes my blood boil like the idiots who blame video game violence for real world violence. I'm really sorry to go off like this and i know that my general blog audience will mostly agree with me, but I feel the need to rant.

I just read an article about a town in Connecticut that is having a "trade in a violent video game for $25" day. They're going to collect the games, snap them in half, deposit them in a dumpster and then probably burn them. Really? We're going back to book burning days?

The sponsors of the event explained that they're not blaming the recent shooting on video games, but they're trying to encourage parents to have the conversations with their children about violence. What? They want parents to actually TALK to their children? Maybe instead of blaming a video game for violence in society, parents ought to communicate with their children - and maybe parents should try to raise their children instead of just shoving them in a room with whatever will shut them up (whether that be a video game, an iphone or some other flashy electronic device).

What other message is going to be presented by this event than video games are bad?

How many people play COD, BF3, Halo, etc? How many have shot up a school? That's akin to saying that going to church causes violence in society if one person who goes to church shoots up a school! I may get flamed out of the building for that analogy, but it doesn't make it any less true.

/endrant

I'm Old Therefore I Farm?

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Well, since Matt wrote a blog a few days back, I felt like being a copycat and doing the same.

it hasn't been quite as long since I wrote my last blog, but still been awhile. For some reason, I don't seem to have time to spit sometimes, let alone put my thoughts on electronic paper in a blog. Then I start wondering what I'm doing to be so busy all of the time.

There are several things that keep me busy. I took a new job almost 2 years ago at a power plant. It's a bit more of a drive but definitely more $ and an all around good move to get out of consulting. I also help Matt with the Pole Vault team when I can make it to practice. Indoor season will be starting next week. Seems like we just ended last season. I love that we are able to share coaching.

On the gaming front, I've been playing Black Ops 2 with Matt - I still suck at aiming, but I do (surprisingly) enjoy it. I also got a 3ds and Matt was kind enough to get me Zelda Ocarina of Time for Christmas. It's great fun, but kinda hard. My current OBSESSION though is the iOS app Hay Day. That's right, I've become a farmer.

Why in the heck have I become a farmer? I think because as I get older, I look for simpler things. BO2 has too many buttons and is not something I can play right before I try to go to sleep - too much adrenaline. Zelda is challenging and I don't want to think hard sometimes after a long day at work. So, I harvest crops, collect animal products and decorate my farm, lol. I think it goes back to just wanting a one or two button controller like in the old Atari days. See, old!

Regardless of my age though, I still game daily and I really can't imagine life without it. Even though I do miss the olden days often, I am still curious about and anticipating the next-gen of gaming - the WiiU doesn't really count in my opinion.

i wish a happy and successful New Year to everyone out there.

~ Toni

Yikes, It's Been a Long Time

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Wow, it has been a long time since I've been here. Feels a little like going back home - except my Mom isn't here which is a bonus!

First of all, Hi Everyone! Hope everything is good in your worlds. I'm not going to take a bunch of time to catch up right now because I need to get something out of my head and sometimes writing it does that for me.

I still game daily and I have entered the world of online MMO's on my iPad. I went through a few before I finally settled on one that seemed ok - Lords and Knights. I really like the game concepts and mechanics for the most part. Right now after spending months and months building my kingdom, I'm ready to punt the game to the curb. Ok, NOT the game, but the other people playing the game.

At the risk of sounding like johnsteed7, I HATE PEOPLE!!!!!!!

So here's how it goes down...I join an alliance, become a member of the council, help build up smaller players by sending them resources...haha, when I put it down in black and white it sounds kind of ridiculous. I worked my butt off for that alliance. But I digress...the alliance merges with another, things go downhill (too many cooks kind of thing), several original people create new alliance and I gladly jump ship. Well, in my opinion, the new alliance was not everything that was promised by the leadership so I decide to part ways with them and just play my own way til I get tired of the game. Matt is also playing and we have our own 2 man alliance that is great fun.

After a few weeks of blissful peace, I get a message from leader of last alliance asking me if I would be willing to trade some of my castles since they're in his area. He said some of the other big alliances wanted them and he was expecting me to get attacked soon. I get that, alliances pick on the little guy. I checked with some of my other sources and found that there were no plans in the works for taking my castles from anyone else There were only 7 and they were in an ok spot, but nothing special. I had friends still in the neighborhood that I would help out from time to time and I was probably a little emotionally invested since they were my original castles. Regardless, I was mad because I felt like I was being threatened...if you don't let me have them, then someone else will take them kind of thing. I politely declined and said I wanted to keep my castles.

Lo and behold, 2 weeks later I get frantic messages from several people still in my old alliance that there are plans to take my castles by force. I know, I know, I'm so threatening and scary that they needed a whole big plan. :). Wth? These are people I considered my friends and of the whole lot of them, 4 people decided to not attack me? And I know, it's a game of conquering...I get that...but just because it is a game does NOT mean that there are not real people with real feelings behind those pixelated castles. Does loyalty no longer exist? Is friendship not worth anything to anyone if it gets in the way of world domination (even on the server scale)?

After a few days of relentless attacks, I'm down 8 castles - I gave 5 to a neighboring player NOT in said alliance just to spite them. I'm trying to give away a few more before they're taken. I'm defending the heck out of the rest so that even if they do get them, they're going to take tons of losses.

Back to where I started: I hate people....so, put a whole bunch of people together and give them some power and they become monsters. I guess it's probably worse online because of the anonymity. People just don't care...it has really reminded me of the psychology experiments Matt and I have watched that involved making one group the prisoners and one group the guards and seeing how they interact. Give people some (make believe) power and it's Lord of the Flies all over the place. :/

I think my time with game is nearing an end - after I hold out for a little while longer and prove that I won't die. Lol, you can't really die in the game, you get reset and have to start all over. I could continue to be a thorn in their sides forever! They can never win because I could keep coming back. :). It's not worth all that to me, but I know I could do it. :p

Thank you for listening. I feel lots better. :). Have a great day.

~ Toni

Ugh, I Need a Friend (Code)

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Heya Everyone,

I know I've been kinda quiet on the GS front, but Matt has kept everyone up to date on our dramatic lives lately. Thank God for having him there by my side through thick and thin. I think I've really been testing the "for better or worse" thing lately. To cope, I have immersed myself into gaming - to get that numb feeling, I suppose. I guess you'd call me a gameaholic, but with doctor's orders (sort of). She told me to use it to stave off anxiety when I can. Anywho, enough depressing stuff for now. I just don't think I can stomach it.

So, I'm playing Final Fantasy III on the DS. We've had it for a while but I hadn't yet picked it up. After finishing DQ IV and V (I really need to update my "Now Playing" lists) I jumped into FF III. I like it. I like it a lot :) The ONE thing I DON'T like is that I have to send mail to a Friend through Mognet in order to get some cool stuff (like the Onion Knight job). Grumble, grumble, grumble. Why? Why? I have a request...anyone out there have a friend code that they'd share with me (by pm is fine) so I can get the stupid Onion Knight? I kinda feel like someone I know (@Johnsteed7) here. I don't want to chat with you - I just want to get the stuff :D See, this is why I don't do Facebook or MySpace. I don't want a million friends, lol. I enjoy my handful of friends here and you guys are AWESOME, but lordy, I am so unsocial. I was really afraid to post this request on a forum board for these reasons :D Ok, don't ask me where this is going, but I have been tending to babble a lot lately.

If anyone would be willing to help me out, I would be grateful. Drives me crazy when I can't get the ultimate equipment and such (Final Fantasy X and Cocobo Racing anyone?)

On a completely off-topic note, Matt taught me the basics of pole vaulting last weekend. Oh my, I am old and out of shape. It was a week before I wasn't sore. I have become the official scorer for pole vault meets and it's been fun to get so involved.

Hope all is well with everyone.

~Toni

I Like to Shoot Things!

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Well, what I thought would be a foray into the shooter genre has quickly become a long-lasting love. I spoke most kindly of Dead Space and when I finished it, I was left wanting for more. I perused our library of existing games and settled on Half-Life 2. I'm playing it on the PS3. We have the PC version as well, but I'm spending so much time on my computer for work that I can't bring myself to use it for gaming right now. So, what I give up in the graphical presentation, I am more than making up for by being able to sit on the recliner :D

I've decided that I really, really like to shoot things. That sounds a little disturbing, huh? Oh, don't be that way, I know that most of you like to shoot things, too. I just got the crossbow and there is huge satisfaction in that soft thwack followed by someone crumpling in the distance. I think my favorite weapon thus far though is the shotgun. It's very satisfying to shoot those head sucker things. :D

One aspect of the game that I LOVE is the puzzling. Stack some boxes up here, throw some blocks on that ramp, jump on the rocks to avoid the antlions - grr @ that one. It's not just a hack and slash or a plain ol' shooter. One has to think while playing the game. While that can be frustrating, it is huge amounts of fun!

So, as I delve deeper into the shooters, I'd like to know what your favorites are. What did you like about it? Let me know and you'll be helping me pick the next one.

Sorry for the excitement over something that is probably old hat to most of you who have been playing shooters for a while, but it's new and exciting to me!

~Toni

My Laptop is Smokin' :D

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Heya fellow Gamespotters. I have decided I'm tired of looking at my old blog (makes me angry every time) so like many of you, I'm blogging to get rid of it!

So, yeah, my laptop is smokin'. Why you ask? Well, because I get to do this super awesome thing called running a computer modeling program for work. Yeah, truly, it's awesome. :D It works my poor machine to death and it's so hot that I keep expecting smoke to come out of it.

I'll explaina little for anyone wanting to listen. The program is called XPSWMM and it's a modeling program that will simulate what's going on in a sewer system. That's right, I'm a poop engineer :) Anyways,a localcity (like hundreds of cities across the country) needs to stop sending sewage out to the river every time it rains a bunch. Yeah, I know, it's gross, but I'm really, really trying to help them stop. The one obstacle is money. It would cost about $150 Million (yes lots of zeroes) to fix it completely. The City just doesn't have that much cash laying around.

Anyways, the program lets me simulate how much raw sewage is going out to the river during a specific rainfall and letsme change things soI can figure out how to minimize how much hits the river. The program isrunning right now and takes about 20 minutes to run through a month's worth of rainfall. It seems to take longer, but that's it. (And I know, I'm probably slowing it down by being on the internet). So, I enter some data...let it crank for 20 minutes...check it out...change some things...start all over. Yay! Yes, that's been myworklife lately. Well, it was broken up today by a conference call with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). That's always exciting.

I do get all kinds of pretty graphs and things and tons and tons of text files of data. That definitely makes my work very satisfying :) the one really, really great thing about having to do this work is that I scored a new laptop and it's pretty sweet. I even managed a 1 Gb graphics card and 4 Mb of RAM. I can run anything we own in terms of pc games. Right now it's got L4D, Doom 3, AOE IIIand Chessmaster installed and not a problem with anything.

Ok, that was my day...how was yours? :D

~Toni

(Yay, my old blog is gone!)

Warning - Heavy Depressing Stuff Ahead...

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Well, what exactly do you think when you see a blog title laike that? Sorry, random musings, I can see this is going to be hard to follow already. Feel free to not read on. I'm ok with that.

Anyways, something about tprezzy - I can't communicate very well in emotional or interpersonal situations. Have me stand in front of a town board/city counciland talk about their stormwater project? Check! Have me present a paper on a new type of wastewater treatment system to a very large group of peers? Check! Have me interview with a group of people to get more work for my company? Check! Talk about my feeeelings - eww. No. Not going to happen. But see, if you don't let things see the light of day once in a while, you end up being not a very nice person. And yes, sometimesI can be a not very nice person. Sooooo, I'm trying to speak up more (it's hard - and surely a result of my childhood, but I'm not ready to blog about that) and it's going ok, but it's been suggested by a few people that writing might be easier. So, I'm giving it a go.

I've had a pretty crap week. Ok, the whole summer has been kind of rough and there are a ton of reasons. I'm not going to say it was terrible because we definitely had some great times and some good moments, but I'm carrying around a bunch of baggage that I have to let go. Alright, catch! Here it comes...

There is one thing this week that has me really fried. You all know that our 15 year old is not seeing her not-so-nice dad at her own request....ok, no problem there. We live in a different school district than her dad and we wanted to let her continue at the same school she started her high school career at. Not only is she comfortable there with all of her friends, but her older sister goes to school there. I requested a permit about a month ago after speaking to the principal at the school. She had no issue whatsoever with Erin staying at the same school. Then yesterday I get an email fromher dad(the only way we communicate) and he said that he doesn't think it would be a good idea for Erin to continue at the school because there could be problems. Problems? What problems could he mean? He went on a little more in his message, but he didn't explain what problems he could mean. I didn't even respond I was so shocked.

So, I called Matt and asked him to meet me over at the school with Erin so that we could talk to the principal aboutthe permit. It hadn't been approved yet and with school starting next week, I figured I needed to get it squared away. We met with the principal and she started by saying that she hadn't approved Erin's permit yet because her dad had been in and had some concerns about her staying at the high school. I asked her if her dadgave any reasons and she told us that he had said that he was afraid Erin would have trouble with her sisters. Plural. Well, she only has one sister at north, but her dad's gf that he lives with has a daughter (Lexie) that will be a freshman. I asked the principal if he mentioned Lexie and she said yes, he had. So he's more concerned with his gf's daughter than he is about his own daughter? That's what I was getting out of this.

I was flabbergasted. The principal looked at Erin and asked her if she was going to have any problems and Erin told her that she had no problems and that she loved her sisters. The gf's daughter actually has a history of being in trouble at school and doing poorly - we'll see how she does in high school. The principal seemed to be a little confused by Erin's dad and flat out told us that she had no reason to deny the permit and that it would be signed right away. She's probably seen it all and saw thorugh his bull.

The question I keep asking myself is: What kind of person would try to force his own child away from her comfortable environemnta AND her sister just because he's mad and wants to teach her a lesson? (his words) I sent her dad's email to my attorney and he laughed. He said he'd like to see him go in front of a judge and try to defend this. It all ended up ok, but getting there was a pain. Why? Why do people have to be like this? I understand that he's upset that his daughter wants nothing to do with him. I really do. I've also gone thorugh times with them where they were unsure about being with me. But I worked my butt off to solve the problems and get past them. Their dad will make no effort whatsoever to try to fix this. He is sucha control freak and it's his way or the highway (also his words) and he can't even begin to admit that he has any fault in this.

I sent him an email telling him I'm saddened and disappointed in his behavior and that Erin would be attending the school unless I had a court order saying otherwise. That made him mad. He responded to me by saying that he was fed up and done. He said that all of the girls don't like either of us any more because of the fighting we're doing. Fighting? I'm not fighting. I just point things out as I see them. He HATES having faults pointed out to him or to be told that he's wrong. He HATES not being in control of a situation. I kind of feel like he's losing it a little because he's so mad. That's a little scary. Never know what people are going to do. I talked to all of the girls tonight and they still like Matt and I so I don't know where their dad is getting that. I cant help it that his relationship with them is just so screwed up.

Ok, I'm looking this over and thinking that it does feel a little better to let it out. (ok, ok, you were right ;) ) Sorry if you guys feel like it's not worth reading - and really, that's ok. But I feel a little saner tonight and that's all very good.

Anyways, it's later and I need to get some sleep. Depression tends to make me sleepy and pent up emotions make me depressed...so I'm sleepy :) Wow, yeah, sleepy. Thanks for being the ear. I appreciate it more than I can ever tell this awesome random bunch of internet friends that I have :D

Plasma Cutters, Power Nodes and Kinesis, Oh My!

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I started playing Dead Space about a week ago. Holy Cow, it's some scary stuff!

First of all I have to say, that I am not a shooter-type person. I like games that don't require a whole bunch of button pushes or combinations. I like games that plod along a little more. C'mon, give me a break, I grew up playing Asteroids on my Atari. One button, one joystick. That's all. Anyways, I started playing Dead Space and surprisingly, I really, really like it. It's not first-person so it was probably a good introduction for me into this unknown realm. I'm used to things like Oblivion and Fable II being third person.

The visuals of the game are stunning. Everything is generally dark and appears to have a wash. The only things thatare brightare the health and statis meters on Isaac's (the main character's) suit. Even the color of the blood that flows PROFUSELY from dead enemies is a little muted. The music makes the game great (This is the one I was talking about in your blog, Ab.) There is nothing like hearing the enemies coming but not know where the heck they are. I spin around like an idot trying to find them.

The controls are easy to master - I really didn't have much trouble though I still panic sometimes and hit the trigger for my weapon instead of stasis. (Statis stops an enemy in it's tracks for a short time.) There is one enemy that is a big swollen blob. If you happen to shoot him in the body, he explodes into about a million ;) little enemies that are tenacious. They are fun to stomp, but if outnumbered, they're trouble. Stasis works well - then you have to shoot the limbs of theblob to kill it. That's much easier to do if it's not shambling at you.

The storyline is engaging and is told through a series of conversations and audio, text or video logs that Isaac picks up along the way. I'm in Chapter 6 (of 12) and I can detect that somethingbad is going to happen (trying to be spoiler-free), but I don't know what it is yet.

I haven't been so absorbed in a game for a very long time. I haven't even really been on GS lately because I've been so into it. I tried to catch up tonight :)

Yay for me - I got the trophy for maintaining hull integrity at greater that 50% in the asteroids shooting portion of the game. I guess all of my time with my Atari paid off! Ok, actually, it took me 16 tries to get through it and I got really lucky!

I'm off to try to kill the Leviathan. He's a pain and I'm having trouble. Stupid bad guy :)

~Toni

Felony Franks

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I was reading through the news this afternoon and saw an article about a new hot dog shop that recently opened in Chicago. It caught my eye immediately just because it was about Chicago dogs. If you don't know what a Chicago dog is, it a a beef hot dog with mustard, onions, relish, tomatoes, a pickle spear, a pepper and celery salt. (I eat them with ketchup instead of mustard). Yes, all on on hot dog. Ok, you may say that sounds awful, but seriously, don't bash it if you've never tried one. They're sold by vendors in carts and in restaurants around the City. Having grown up outside of Chicago, I ate a lot of them throughout my life. I made sure I got when one during our recent trip to Chicago. I bought it from a stand right outside of the museum. Yummy :D

Ok, back to the news. There is a new restaurant that recently opened that is called "Felony Franks." The owner has made a point to hire all ex-cons. He wants to give some ex-cons a chance to make something of themselves after they've served their time in prison. Currently there are 10 ex-cons working there. They serve different kinds of dogs - one is a Felony Frank and one is a Misdemeanor Wiener. How fun is that? There are a bunch of people up in arms in Chicago about it. A local City councilman doesn't like the name. An alderman says it's a poor choice for a restaurant them. I guess people would rather not be reminded that there are people that they brush shoulders with every day that are ex-cons? Of course, we as a society demand to know where every sex offender lives. But murderers? Thieves? Arsonists? As long as they don't talk to me, then fine. Is that the kind of society we live in?

I for one am happy to see people be able to turn their lives around and do something productive. Anyone who has ever filled out a job application knows that an arrest can follow you FOREVER! I know that their are some "bad apples" out there, but I also know that some people get led astray and if they would have had positive influences in their lives, they would never end up in jail in the first place. The movie "The Shawshank Redemption" does a really good job of illustrating how difficult it is for someone to get out of prison and find a place in society. I'm happy to see someone out there not afraid to offer opportunities to people who need them.

The question at the end of the article was: Would you buy a hot dog from an ex-con? I would ask the question: Why wouldn't you? Funny thing is, if you have been to a restaurant, there is a good chance you HAVE been served by an ex-con, but you just didn't know it :)

What a Man! :)

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First of all, I will state that I'm talking about Matt :)

So, I've been laying about all day today because I have a killer cold. I've had it since Friday (I swear, I sneezed 500 times). We had a yard sale yesterday and it probably made it worse since I didn't rest, but hey, the extra funds were nice - though I HATE the prep for a yard sale. I've felt so awful that I haven't even felt like gaming - though I have watched a ton of tv :)

Anyways, I g ot up and tried to help out a little bit this morning, but was feeling pretty blah. Erin had a friend coming over so we were cleaning the house up a little. We'd left the basement in pretty bad shape after getting ready for the stupid yard sale. Everyone was busy so I said I was going to go to the store and get some OJ (not the murderer) and some cough drops. Then I proceeded to fall over into bed because I was so worn out. Matt comes in and gives me this certain look he does when I'm being ridiculous (stupid) and asked me why I can't ever ask for help.

I have this real problem asking for help. And I hate having people do stuff for me.A prima donna I am not! I'm an "I can do it myself" kind of person and it's not really a good way to be. I'm better than I used to be but obviously still not great. So, I finally asked him to go to the store for me and he was happy to do it for me. And I was happy to to have him go since I felt icky.

The man comes back from the store with my OJ (he wrote the "not the murderer" part on his list and it made me smile), cough drops, some Vicks and lotion Puffs (these are awesome on a sore nose) and last but definitely not least...he brought me HERSHEY"S KISSES! What a man he is. I may not be a girly girl, but I still love chocolate :) The Kisses made my day.

It's a little thing in the grand scheme of life, but sometimes the little things make all of the difference. I've been blogging about so much bad stuff lately (my mom, court, the accident) that I wanted to blog about something happy! So, this is happy :D

I feel really lucky to have someone out there that is willing to do the little things for me. My only advise to anyone reading- don't take anyone close to for granted and don't forget about the little things :D

~Toni

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