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what would you do if you won the lottery?

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what would you do? retire, buy an island, give money to all your family and friends?

so i keep seeing some lotto story in the news about a family winning a $300M plus jackpot and they are having their entire family retire. i don't play the lottery, but i have to admit that i've thought about what i would do if i DID win big, say over $100M, or more money than i could ever rationally spend in my lifetime.

first of all, money cannot buy happiness, but it can help lift some things that weigh us down. money is a powerful tool, and i could definitely do more with, well, more money. money is also a central focus of many of our lives, in that we work to earn it so that we can use it to get or do stuff. money has the power to help us fulfill our wildest dreams, but also to break up marriages and create suspicions and discontent.

still, i wouldn't complain if i won a large jackpot or got a hefty inheritance. but i would realize that it won't fix all of my problems in life, and that with its ease would come new problems.i watched some show that chronicled the lives of some lottery winners, and sometimes it doesn't turn out well. one of the themes in the show was how unscrupulous some friends and former family could become when the dollar signs appear in their eyes, and how the winners became unsure of who they could trust and then isolated and lonely. then there are the folks who spent their money too quickly and outran their bank accounts, leaving them worse than when they started, or the ones who were taken by crooks and lost it all anyway.

i think about how, even though it might be nice to not work so hard, having a purpose is very important to some people. i'm not sure what purpose i would find with having a ton of money, and i like to feel useful for my personal skills rather than what i have in my bank account. i also don't think it's a good idea to give handouts and enable people to look at you like their personal piggy bank, and let them become lazy and dependent.

with all of that in mind, below are the things i would do if i ever won the lottery (though i have to say that this should not be considered binding should i win, and that i have every right to change my mind ;)):

  1. pay off all of my debts and all of the debts of my friends and family. this would be way better than just giving people a hand out, it would free them from some burden and give them a fresh start without allowing them to become too complacent in the future. this would be a one-time deal, not a recurring bail out because anything else would be teaching them they can keep screwing things up and would always be taken care of (take note, feds).
  2. buy 2 or 3 nice houses, and a decent amount of property for the future. the world isn't getting any bigger, and i might need a safe zone should the zombie apocolypse ever occur.
  3. buy a decent house for each of my immediate family members, and give them enough money to pay property taxes for 20 years. no mansions, just a nice place to lay their heads and enjoy some space.
  4. buy my parents each the car of their dreams, and put half a million in their retirement account. they had to put up with me for 17 years in their home, they've earned it ;)
  5. keep $5M in my own account in addition to having 50 years of anticipated property taxes on all my properties, invest some of it, but more have it as a safety net.
  6. set up medical care funds for any friends or families that need it.
  7. donate the rest to pay for medical expenses for working class and poorer families. i have no need for so much money, it would allow me to be less of a person than i am and become lazy and complacent. i don't want people begging me for easy outs, or worrying that people are just using me for my money (i already feel so overly used for my amazing good looks *cough gag*) :P

so that's what i would do if i won the lottery. how about you?

-z

i'm back!

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ok, so i never left GS, but this blog isn't about a triumphant return to a website. it's about my triumphant return to actual gaming.

if you've been following my blogs for a while, you know that i had some very bad personal things happen this year. it really knocked the wind out of my sails. and while i'm not yet full speed ahead, i've finally recovered one thing i had previously lost: my love of gaming.

part of my departure had to do with a heavy work load and a rather negative living situation over the last few years. add to that the purchase of a PS3 that died in 15 months and the fact that there were almost no games that tickled my fancy, and i was left as one jaded gamer. i like FPS, and i couldn't get back into it in consoles since i left them 5 years ago for my PC. the RPGs i found just didn't seem to have the magic i'd found in previous games, and i lost the one person i used to play games with (ironically the fallout initially started over a game, which didn't help).

the bottom of the barrel was when i was really down and could only play bejeweled 3. BEJEWELED 3!!! sure, there are lots of shiny objects and fiery explosions and stuff--every girl's dream--but it's not my usual game. i pretty much played it to get lost and pass the time because i was too stressed out to play any challenging games. i had a conversation with a good friend of mine from here and he said something along the lines that i wasn't a real gamer anymore. he may have been joking, but it kind of stung!

so i got busy ;) i ended up getting borderlands and am having tons of fun with co-op! i've never been able to play an online game with real life friends, but this game is an awesome FPS to play with other people. i got the game of the year package on steam for like $8 (that seems too low so maybe i'm wrong but i know i wouldn't have paid $20 for it). i actually look forward to gaming again and am having a good time :) but the game that really got me going was deus ex: human revolution. what a polished game with fun gameplay and amazing story! that's the first game in a while i've actually looked forward to getting home to play. i even had dreams that i was stealthing around, knocking heads together and tranqing targets. all in a day's work!

All in a day's work

i still play bejeweled 3 a little here and there, but c'mon it's hard to go cold turkey. i like looking at all the shiny gems i'll never see in real life!

did you ever have a gaming lapse, and what brought you back?

-z

boredom...

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is a luxury.

think about the last time you were truly bored: you probably weren't thinking about where your next meal was coming from or where you would lay your head to rest the next night; you probably had lots of things you could do, but weren't in the mood; you probably had people to call and family to catch up with, but just didn't feel like it.

the next time you're bored, look towards wherever you get your inspiration and, at the very least, mumble a "thank you" to the stars, because it means that you are not preoccupied with drama and sadness or--better yet--safety. take a deep breath in, hold it for a few, then exhale the boredom.

and then find something worthwhile to do.

:)

-zyxe

chillin with my homeboi, yoda

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i just got a request for this so i will post it. this is me with the yoda statue in the courtyard of big rock ranch at lucasfilm, about the only thing i was allowed to take pics of. fun!

yoda 1

yoda 2

i hate pics but heck these were just too much fun. i love going to their sites :)

-z

the long journey home

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as she came to the edge of the forest, the throbbing started. in the fray and after, she had other things distracting her from the pain of the gash in her arm. unsurprised but unsure exactly how it happened she scrounged for some herbs on the forest carpet, hidden between in the bits of sunlight fighting their way through the leaves and branches above.

much like she had fought her way into the heart of this place.

it was much easier marching her way out without all of those pesky minions aching for the attention of her weaponry. finding her herbs, she sat down on a stump and chewed on the bundle and poured the small bit of water left from her hidden flask into the dirt next to her feet. she grabbed the mud in her hands and spat the herbs into it; the paste stung her arm as she patted it into the wound.

on the way in, she felt alive. every bead of sweat clinging to every hair on her body chilled as the wind flowed by; every twig that snapped under her feet sounded like a boulder crashing down the side of a mountain; every breath reinvigorated her and cleared her mind, fueling her progress.

but after the battle came purgatory. she knew she survived, but was numb from the outside in. muddled thoughts muted the sound of the ground passing under her feet and she could not remember the last time she took a breath; sweat had been replaced with blood from the various nicks and deep cuts all over. but they didn't hurt until just now.

the throbbing started pulsing throughout her body as she sat on the stump so she decided to press on. hours of daylight remained, but in her condition, she wouldn't be travelling fast.

as she passed through the remaining forest and the trees thinned, she saw the fields stretching out before her. the tips of grass danced in the wind with a quiet peacefulness she had forgotten could exist in this world. it was a stark contrast to the sounds of battle in the morn, and even though it was quiet, her ears were still ringing.

the throbbing was taking over her thoughts and she matched the pace with her steps. one foot in front of the other. as the sun set behind her, she saw the familiar site of the farmlands just on the outskirts of her home town. the familiarity gave her the final bit of strength to plow forward and make her way towards the lights.

she wondered what she would tell them as the town drew nearer; she had left without telling them of the nature of her travels. she figured that she would take care of the evil herself, and if she couldn't, there was no need to let them know what would be coming. there was no way they could have escaped, let alone won, even if they were prepared, and knowing would have only put everyone into a panic--their last moments would be that of fear and dread, and she did not wish to burden them with it.

as she crossed into the main road, she heard laughter of the town's children nearby and the call of their mothers to come in for the night. a few steps more into town and one child saw her. "she's back!" he cried to his mother with his finger extended towards her, as the energy instantaneously drained from her body, and she collapsed as a sweet darkness swallowed her sight.

her battle was over, both in the forest and to get home, and she decided they need not know. her body was home to rest for eternity.

feminism and gaming... where do i fit in???

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metroid prime depiction of samus aranVS. zero suit samus aran

this blog was prompted by an article i recently read here on GS. i thoroughly enjoyed it, personally, and it got me thinking about what my own definition of feminism is, and how i feel it pertains to my own gaming experiences. below is a comment i made for this article:

to me, feminism is trying to get the world to see that i just happen to be a female, and not having that be the very first thing cataloged in their brains when i am playing a game online and speak into the mic. it's perfectly OK to realize that i am a female, but it should be just one of the many qualities on my resume, not the primary (or sometimes the only considered) quality.

it's like the good and bad about how nintendo has portrayed samus aran throughout the various series. first, it was totally awesome that the main character in the original metroid just happened to be female, and you didn't find out until the end because--wait for it--it didn't matter! (+1) but of course you only find out about that if you beat the game in enough time for her to lose her space suit and be revealed in a bikini... (-1)

then there was metroid prime, where you get her to take off her helmet at the end, which was really well done. she did not look like a young teeny bopper, what i admired most was her mature and war-torn look, like she had just been through a LOT and was older and wiser, and more tired for it. (+1!) then you get to zero suit samus and the promo drawings for her in SSBB, and she was once again hypersexualized, looking like she was 19 with big bazongas and a ridiculously skin-tight suit (yes i get the need to have a skin tight suit under the armor but COME ON the bazongas were unnecessarily huge, so -1).

it just gets old after a while. i just want a female character in a good game, a game i actually want to play, who just happens to be female, where that's not a big deal, like from what i hear of portal and mirror's edge (i don't care for either game play so i can't quite speak for those, but from what i've read they seem to be what i'm asking for).

keep in mind that this DOES NOT mean i do not play video games because of this, but it really gets old. i still do enjoy gaming, but it degrades the experience slightly each time the sexism is terribly obvious.

also, it doesn't mean that it's ok to hypersexualize men either. i'm not sure what to say about that, except i'm not sure making these brawny characters is so sexual, it's more portraying some stereotypes about what guys might wish to be in some sense (i'm not a guy so i could be wrong), whereas the female sex toys aren't really what us females would like to be.

i also thought this video put it pretty well.

that about sums it up. questions? comments?

-z

a little taste of happiness (UPDATE)

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one of the things i've been doing lately is trying to mentally go back to a place where i was happy. i remember looking at pictures of my old bedroom and i had put all sorts of junk on the walls, anything that made me happy! it was a bit of a mess, but really fun. then, when "that guy" moved in, i kind of got rid of a lot of it to make it more suitable to him, and make it a bit more mature.i still had some fun stuff, just not as funky (i had cartons of toys hanging on the wall like in a toy store and some dragonball z and gundam posters and stuff).

then i completely redid my room last year (about a year before everything) and really tried to make it grown up. but i realize it was missing something. so when he left, it just felt empty and hollow. i mean i like the design and everything, but dare i say it ended up a bit too mature?

well, thanks to my amazing buddy, coolcon2000, sent me a wall scroll of jensen from deus ex: human revolution. that's a game that kind of helped me get through a really tough part of my break up because it was the first game in years that i had a tough time putting down, and looked forward to playing all day. the character and design of the whole game, as well as the graphics, are amazing. ironically, they also match my room ;)

jensen on doors

here's an up close of one of the mirrors that has a cool scroll graphic on it

scroll mirror

and the corner it's in (with an ugly flash):

sexy jensen

it just makes it feel like a little bit of the old life i had when i was fairly happy. i'm hoping that every morning when i wake up to sexy jensen i realize that things are all right. no harm in having a sexy man in my bedroom for once! (even if someone did have to pay him and ship him from china...)

so now i'm curious, do you guys have any cool game posters in your rooms, or is it just me? :D

-z

UPDATE

sadly, laurie died this morning. thank you for all of your well-wishes and prayers. i believe that she is in a better place, but, selfishly, i wish she were still here. i dedicated my flowers i planted this morning to her.

tomatoes and flowers in my front entry

Flowers on Balcony

we love you, laurie.

-z

a prayer for laurie

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laurie

last night i got an email from a good friend of mine, laurie. she's been battling cancer, angiosarcoma, since 2006. after surgery and chemo, it came back in 2009 and hasn't gone away since. it has spread to her bones and she was just given 2 months to live. she is seeking more natural cures since chemo and radiation have failed again.

the picture is a link to her website that talks a little about her disease. there is a link to donate, but i'm not asking for that. i think more than anything, laurie could use your prayers. i know religion isn't popular these days, so please take no offense; even offering thoughts of well-wishes does a soul good.

laurie is a wonderful person. i got to know her through a women's engineering program when she was assigned as my "little sister" in engineering. she worked with me in the atmospheric boundary layer wind tunnel (ABLWT) at uc davis, and became a good friend. she got a job at the insurance company CNA and that's how i learned about loss prevention consulting and got my job at FM Global (CNA had a hiring freeze and laurie thought FM Global's engineering fit would be better for me). we went to a Muse concert together like 6 years ago (pic at end) and she even stayed out with me all night while i waited in line to try and get a spot at the apartment complex she was staying in. she moved to arizona for treatment a while ago, and came back about 5 months ago in the middle of my personal drama and was kind enough to let me cry on HER shoulder about this jerk while i had no idea things were getting much worse for her. what a woman: kind, smart and beautiful.

so, if you find it in your heart to send her a prayer, be it for healing or for peace in the time to come, it is much appreciated. in the meantime, live your life like you mean it and enjoy life with those you love. life is too short to be forever bitter and angry and closed off to others.

laurieANDbethMUSE

we love you, laurie.

-z

the avengers (OMG a review)

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i'm not really a review-writer, but meh, it's nice to write about other stuff once in a while :)

i went to go see the movie, "the avengers", on a whim with my friend tracy from the office. i'm not usually in the office, as it's an hour away from me withOUT traffic, but i went in to have lunch with tracy and stephanie, another field engineer who happened to be in that day and is usually too far away from me to hang out.

so tracy was going to see the movie and invited me along.

AND IT WAS AWESOME!!!

i love action flicks, and this was one of the best i've seen in a long time. the action wasn't too drawn out (think matrix 2 ick) but it was present throughout most of the movie. the plot was actually pretty solid; not too twisty, but it served as a good vehicle to get all of these heroes together.

what i enjoyed most about this movie is that all of the actors and heroes shined, i didn't feel like any one took over the movie. it was great teamwork through the writing AND the acting. a job well-done all around.

the pacing of the movie was also exceptional. there was never a point where i felt like it was boring or spending too much or way too little time on any one part. it is a relatively longer movie, over 2 hours, but it really didn't feel like it. there was enough seriousness along with enough comedic relief to keep it fun and interesting till the end.

and you will want to stay till the end, too. the final scene is great :) make sure you really stay till the credits are completely over to catch it.

now, before you head out and see it, if you have yet to, i do recommend that you watch at least the first iron man and thor (watching the captain america movie is a good idea too but i felt not as required, but it will help you connect with his character more). thor is a must-watch because it's important to know the villain's origins. i did not watch the second iron man and did just fine.

that said, this movie was just fun all around; a great summer blockbuster that doesn't completely overcompensate with super long fight scenes or way too many special fx, and just gives you some good laughs and is solid entertainment. finally, a movie felt worth the cost to see in the theater.

zyxe's score: two thumbs AND two big toes up!

i'd like to...

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  1. drop 10 pounds - well, my BIG goal is to drop a total of 30 pounds, but the first 10 is my next goal. i will ALWAYS weigh more than other people my height because of my build (a former roommate once said my legs look like they could kick through a brick wall... i'll take that as a compliment?) and that's cool with me, but about 30 pounds ago is where i had no real weight concern, and was very happy and comfortable. but my goal is really 10 pounds permanent loss per year, slow and steady so that it STAYS off forever.
  2. start jogging - i'm a HORRIBLE runner, but a few years back, i decided to get past my qualms and use my 4-year old running (aka not running anywhere really just walking around because they were ultra comfy) shoes and start jogging. one block at a time. two weeks later and my legs were looking WAY better, but i kind of crimped my back. so, i figure once i drop the next 10 pounds so it's easier on my knees, i'm gonna get a good pair of shoes and get started again, but improve my results by throwing in my 15 minute stretching DVD after any jogging session, or on off days do my 60-minute stretch.
  3. start paying down debt - previously, there was a certain someone leeching off my earnings, and i hadn't realized how much i actually lost until *it* was gone. now that i have some extra money, i bought kind of a whole new wardrobe to up my game, and now i need to start paying down the debt i accumulated when my job went bust a few years ago.
  4. buy a condo - AFTER i pay down a bunch of debt, which will probably take a good 5 years of hard work, i would like to start saving for a living space of my very own. i'm sure i won't be able to afford a house, but even a condo would be fine with me. something nice, cozy, with enough room for a guest and office, and maybe 2 cats :)
  5. get 2 cats - i love animals, so when i'm more financially sound and have money to make sure if they get sick i can care for them, i'd love 2 cats. 1 would be fine, except i am gone a bit and i would like them to have company.

so those are my goals that i hope to really make some movement towards by the end of the year. right now it's been tough due to lack of energy from depression, but maybe writing this down, i can check them off one by one and maybe i will start to feel a bit better!

special shout out to Valek1394 who recently attained a goal of his own, and gave me some inspiration to start daydreaming about what i would like to do with my life.

happy cinco de mayo..

-z